Personal investigator, also known as private detectives, are individuals who conduct investigations on behalf of citizens, businesses, and organizations. Private investigators are also available to assist clients and defense attorneys in criminal or civil cases. Insurance companies often employ private investigators or detective agencies to investigate suspicious claims. Private investigators are also available to investigate suspicious claims. Private investigators can find evidence of adultery or other “socially unexcitable behavior” between spouses and partners. This is one of the most lucrative areas of Private Investigation.
Private detectives are also able to perform background checks, skip traces and locate missing people. Many agencies specialize in one area. Some agencies are experts in skip tracing, while others specialize in surveillance. Others specialize in bug detection. This is the finding and disposing of unwanted electronic surveillance that can be found in corporate espionage or personal cases. A PI can have many specialties, including Fraud Investigations and Personal Security details or Bodyguard details. Computer Forensics can be another.
Because of the case, private detectives and personal investigator may work irregular hours. They are required to conduct surveillance and contact people who may not be available during normal working hours. Private detectives and private investigators often work holiday shifts, on weekends, in the early mornings, or at night. Private Investigators and Detectives spend most of their time conducting interviews or surveillance. However, some may also work from their offices doing computer searches and making phone calls. Others might have their own investigations or hire others. They may work in offices, and they might have regular business hours. An investigator might need to be armed to perform certain tasks, such as protecting celebrities or corporate clients. Investigators and detectives authorized to carry handguns while on duty need to have a license from appropriate authorities. In most cases, a weapon is not necessary because the purpose of the work is to gather data and not criminal apprehensions or law enforcement.
In some states, it is essential to have private investigator license for investigation. Some private detectives are former military officers, while others don’t. Many states have strict laws that regulate private investigations. Private investigators work long hours, often keeping detailed notes and video for reports. Surveillance-related work is also a major part of their work. Private detectives often have college degrees and have taken courses in criminal or legal investigations to prepare for their field. Private detectives and private investigators often have previous experience in other areas that can help them prepare for their role as Private Investigators. Many of them have been paralegals or worked for insurance companies and collections. Many investigators have extensive experience in law enforcement, federal intelligence, auditing, investigation, and military positions. They are experts in their field.
Many ex-law enforcement officers, military agents, or government agents have become Private Detectives/Private Inspectors. Private Detectives/Private Inspectors are also available to those who work in finance, accounting, credit, or investigative reporting. These individuals often have previous experience in similar investigative fields and can be considered experts.
A background in criminal justice or police science is a great advantage for anyone who wants to work as Private Detectives and Private Investigators. Most corporate investigators need a bachelor’s degree. Corporate investigators can hold a master’s degree in business administration or a law degree. Some are also CPAs. Corporate investigators might be offered formal training by large companies on topics like finance, management, and business practices. A background check is often part of the screening process.
Most states require that Private Detectives and Private Inspectors are licensed in their respective states. There are many licensing requirements. Seven states do not have statewide licensing requirements. Others have strict regulations and many more. Many states now require private detectives and investigators to attend mandatory training programs. California Department of Consumer Affairs requires private investigators and detectives to have at minimum 18 years of experience. They also need to have a degree in police science or criminal law and 3 years of experience (6,000 hours) in the investigation. Private investigators must pass the FBI’s criminal background check and California Department of Justice’s investigation experience test. After passing this, they will have to take a written exam covering all laws and regulations for a total of two hours. For firearms permits, additional requirements must be met.
Private-detective agencies often have a small staff which makes it difficult to progress. The firm usually has one to three private investigators. There are rarely clear ranks and steps, so advancement comes in the form of salary increases or assignments status. Many detectives and investigators begin their careers in detective agencies. They may eventually open their own agency. Managers and supervisors of security or investigation departments could be promoted to corporate legal investigators.