What do Private Detectives and Investigators Do?
Whether it is a personal matter or criminal offense, having proper information can help to resolve certain issues. As a private detective or investigator it would be your job to not only collect, but to also analyze and report information about specific cases.
Private Detective and Investigator Skills and Abilities
Being that you will most likely work freelance, customer service and management skills are essential. You also need strong written and verbal communication skills so that you may properly interact with your clients. An eye for detail will definitely assist you in your endeavors, as well as strong organization skills. Critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving abilities are also essential in helping you to decipher clues and pieces of evidence.
Private Detective and Investigator Duties
One of the main duties of a private detective or investigator is collecting information. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways, including:
- Tracking down leads
- Taking photographs
If you collect evidence from an outside source you will need to verify it. Once the facts are verified it is your responsibility to document the information and findings. Depending upon the situation, some further investigation or reasoning may be required before closing the case. If you are connected with a governmental or law enforcement agency you may have to assist with catching criminals, as well as testify in or give statements for court. Upon completing cases you will want to keep good record of them, should you or another investigator need to revisit them later.
Private Detective and Investigator Tools and Technology
A detective or investigator’s tools are critical items to performing many required duties. Some of the most common tools that you can expect to utilize are:
- Digital cameras and camcorders
- Evidence collection kits
- ComputersAlong with the tools to collect evidence you will also need certain technologies to aid in evaluating, storing and sharing said evidence. You can expect to use:
- Data entry and retrieval software
- Photo imaging software
- Internet browser
- Email These and other tools and technologies can assist in speeding up the assessment process, therefore making the investigative process more time efficient.
Education and Training for Private Detectives and Investigators
There is no formal education requirement, though most individuals have at least a high school diploma. In fact, many private detectives and investigators have a bachelor’s degree or some college. Forensic Science, Criminal Justice or some other form of law study may be good degrees to consider. Some may also find social sciences, such as psychology or sociology, to be beneficial for understanding and tracking criminals and crime scenes. In light of the fact that you will most likely be running your own firm at some point, some business classes could be useful.
Private Detective and Investigator Salary
There are a few different factors that contribute to determining a private detective or investigator’s salary. A few key contributors include
- Firm or independent
- Full- or part-time
Considering these factors it is understandable how the salary can range drastically. In 2014, detectives and investigators made between $27,000 and $85,600, with a median salary of $44,600.
Private Detective and Investigator Jobs by Geography
The areas with the highest number of opportunities for private detectives and investigators are California and New York, though there are quite a few investigative jobs available in other states. It is also projected that more positions will become available over the next few years. Considering that it is a common freelance position, you can always develop your own position in your area.