The realities of a private investigator career do not typically resemble the romanticized and glamorous portrayal of the profession often seen in popular media outlets. While it is true that private detective work is exciting and fast-paced, it is certainly not an easy career path and presents a constant string of new and ever-present challenges to even the most experienced professional investigators.
This resource section provides vivid coverage of the detective specialties in a series of niche focused article topics. Whether you are an aspiring investigator, or a seasoned professional with decades of experience, you can improve your understanding of the detective vocations right here.
Starting a Private Investigator Career
Beginning a career as a private eye can be the most difficult part of the job. Many private detective agencies are hesitant to hire inexperienced or unproven agents to work investigative jobs. Fortunately, a few agencies will still give new employees a chance in junior investigator or intern positions.
An easier way to break into the business is to begin your career in the insurance industry or by serving the public as a law enforcement officer. SIU agents, police and federal marshals all learn the skills that are inherent to becoming a successful private sector investigator. A history of military service will also help and should provide a large number of connections within the legal services industry, after leaving active duty.
Read about some crucial considerations for persons wanting to build a career as any type of investigator.
Investigation Career Topics
How much do investigators earn This is a classic question that we receive each week from people who are interested in pursuing a detective career path. In fact a private investigator salary is one of the most subjective of all career inquiries.
Many readers want to become a private investigator, but are not sure how to go about making the vocational transition. Luckily, we provide expert guidance on this topic.
Retired police private investigators are some of the best in the business, but some former cops have trouble attracting paying clients, depending on the type of case work they offer.
International investigations allow detectives the excitement of traveling throughout their careers, but also demonstrate the considerable downside of minimizing time spent in one locale.
Downside of a Private Investigator Career
P.I. work often consists of long and unpredictable shifts, typically at odd hours. It is difficult to make plans around the demands of a large case load and some investigators are constantly balancing the needs of job, family, friends and their own personal needs. Some positions are less chaotic and might serve busy investigators better than freelance work. Store detectives, insurance investigators and record search specialists work far more typical hours than general private detectives.
Beside the time requirements, investigators who work for an employer generally earn on the lower end of the spectrum for this profession. The gig is steady, but the money is often mediocre. At least most of these jobs offer a diverse compensation package, including health insurance, paid vacations and retirement benefits.
Independent contractors must pay all these costs by themselves and have little security. However, their earnings potential is far greater and many earn in the six figure range year after year. The key to being a successful freelancer is access to a consistent supply of work, which can be very elusive for all but the luckiest or best connected investigation professionals.
Private Investigator Career Realities
If you are qualified by education, skills and personality type to become a private investigator, and are willing to endure some hardships early in your career, then you might just eventually find great success in this nontraditional profession. Finding your first job may be the biggest challenge, but once you are established, your reputation and resume should build quickly, if you are a talented and fast learner.
Eventually you may open your own detective agency and offer new young investigators their first job experiences. Just remember to train them well and build them into competent professionals that are worthy of their job titles. If you can develop a successful agency, you may have the best of all worlds at your feet: a well established business which makes you a fine living, career autonomy and a real asset which builds your personal equity year after year.
There are many risks of being a professional investigator that must be managed and mitigated. Be sure to understand all these hazards before considering a career in the investigation sciences.