Private Investigator and Detective
Private detectives and investigators provide private investigative services to collect information. Private detectives analyze information to solve mysteries and uncover facts. Private detectives and investigators offer protection services, pre-employment screening, and investigate peoples' backgrounds. Some investigate identity theft, cyber harassment, and copyright violations. They assist during criminal and civil cases, insurance fraud, missing persons investigations, and child protection and custody disputes. They are often hired by people to investigate whether their spouses have committed infidelity. Private detectives utilize many investigative methods. They generally use computers to find documents, locate deleted emails, and conduct database searches. Investigators utilize computers to find information about criminal records, telephone numbers, court judgments, and motor vehicle registration.
Detectives and investigators also conduct surveillance. Investigators make phone calls to verify, for example, someone's income or location of employment. While conducting missing persons or background checks, detectives conduct interviews to collect information. Sometimes investigators conduct undercover work to monitor people without being identified.
Most private detectives and investigators understand how to conduct physical surveillance while some specialize in using technology for surveillance. Sometimes private detectives conduct surveillance from a car or a location where they will not be noticed. Using video cameras, mobile phones, and binoculars private detectives conduct time consuming surveillance.
The duties of private detectives are dependent on clients' requests. For example, if a private detective were investigating workers' compensation fraud, he or she might monitor the person suspecting of committing fraud to determine whether it is being committed. If the person is defrauding workers' compensation, the investigator would document it by taking pictures and report the person to authorities.
Detectives and investigators must obey all laws while conducting investigations. They must stay updated about privacy laws, as well as other federal and state laws affecting their work. Often private detectives must make judgment calls when the legality of certain surveillance methods is unclear. They must collect evidence legally, so it will be admissible in court.
Some private detectives spend all day in their office doing computer work and making phone calls, but many detectives spend time out of the office interviewing people and conducting surveillance. When investigators are conducting investigations, they may spend their time in fancy corporate offices or rundown bars. Store and hotel detectives spend their days at the businesses they provide security for.
Investigators usually work alone, but sometimes while conducting surveillance or when trying to avoid being identified, they work in groups. Since detectives often confront people, their jobs can be dangerous and stressful. When investigators have bodyguard responsibilities they often carry firearms.
Since private detectives conduct surveillance and contact people not available during normal business hours, they often work nights, early mornings, and weekends.
Education and Training
Private investigators are typically not required to complete formal training, but many hold graduate degrees. Investigators who specialize typically hold bachelor's degrees and complete specialized training. Aspiring investigators should take classes in criminal justice and police science while in college to improve promotion opportunities. Even though relevant prior work experience is usually required, some private investigators begin their careers after earning a college degree, typically in police science or criminal justice. Companies and individuals that hire private investigators often prefer hiring investigators with law enforcement experience.