Private investigators are hired to look into all sorts of situations for individuals and businesses, from suspicions of infidelity to workers’ comp to pre-employment screening. You will do heavy research, survey individuals, interview clients and other people related to the case, follow up on gut feelings, document and film activity, and verify the facts of each case while still following federal and state law.
Becoming A Private Investigator
Most states require you to be licensed to work as a private investigator, though no formal education is needed. Many training programs do exist, however, and there are some courses you should take that will help you land a job. Since private investigators spend a good deal of time researching their subjects online, it'd be smart to gain a background in computer information systems or computer forensics, or to find a school that offers a certification in private investigation.
Moreover, some states require that you work a minimum amount of years in investigatory work before being licensed as a private investigator. This requirement can be fulfilled if you have equivalent work experiences, such as serving as a police officer, detective, or military policeman.
The hours of a private investigator are highly erratic by nature. You could be working at 2 p.m. one day and 3 a.m. the next; it all comes down to when the activity is most likely to happen. For example, if you did some research on the subject of your case and found out that he will take his lunch break at 1 p.m. and leave work at 6 p.m., you should be poised and ready to survey him during those times.
Private Investigation: A Typical Day
Upon starting a new case, first you will interview your client to get any requirements and gain knowledge about the person or situation you’re investigating. Then, you will need to research everything there is to know about the subject. You’ll do background checks, talk to neighbors and coworkers, look through record databases, scour the internet for information on the subject, and go through trash—in most states, garbage bags are fair game once they hit the curb.
Your interviews and research will take you to the hotspots of the case, which may be many miles away. After driving to the site, all that's left to do is to wait for something to happen. It gets boring: You can’t read a book or scroll through your phone to pass the time, lest you miss even the smallest detail. When something does happen—anything at all—you will take photos and film the subject in order to document your findings. The photos and video are your hard proof regarding the actions of the subject, and it will document where he or she was spotted, too. You will write down any details about what happened in a formal report.
You’ll need to tail subjects (without being seen, of course), no matter how far they go. Again, you will need to document all that is happening while they were on the move. Gathering proof and fully investigating the subject will allow you to fulfill the requirements of the case.
Case Closed: It’s A Great Career
Being a private investigator isn’t always the most flashy position. Digging through trash and waiting hours for something to happen is dirty, dull work. When you find what you want, though, it can be absolutely exhilarating. You will be uncovering the truth and helping your clients determine all of the facts in their case, a very satisfying job responsibility, indeed.