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Career Profile: Private Detective/Investigator

Why Is Private Investigation a Job of Tomorrow?
As an increasing number of companies turn to private investigators to handle business-related and electronic crimes that are often overlooked by government-employed detectives, this field will do well. Employment opportunities for private detectives and investigators are expected to grow 18 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private detectives and investigators make an average salary of $33,750 annually.

What Does a Private Detective and Investigator Do?
Private detectives and investigators work with individuals, businesses and attorneys to find information on cases that can include computer crimes and unsolved homicide cases. Depending on the specific case that a private investigator is asked to examine, duties may vary. In all jobs, private investigators work to uncover and document facts that may help solve a mystery or prove a theory. Most of this work is done on a computer, uncovering incriminating emails, documents and other files to produce a lead, and then acting on those leads to find more facts. For example, an investigator working on a business crime of leaked information would search employee computers for deleted emails or confidential information that had been copied. An investigator working on a case of marital affair suspicion would inconspicuously follow the suspect and take photographs of where the suspect goes, what the suspect does and who the suspect meets. It is important, however, that all of the methods of information gathering that the investigator uses are legal so that they are admissible in court.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Private Detective and Investigator?
Private investigator education and training experiences vary among states. Some states require at least some college education background in criminal justice, and others have only professional work experience requirements in which prospective private investigators must have worked under the tutelage of a licensed investigator for a certain amount of time. Almost every state requires that private investigators be licensed before working, though the rules for licensure vary.