Movies and TV can make the work of private detectives and investigators look pretty glamorous, but the modern P.I. is more researcher than action hero. As an investigator, you might search for missing persons or proof of marital infidelity. But most work for stores, hotels, or security companies to investigate theft, fraud, and other crimes involving money. Their tools are computers… phones… and cameras… along with a persuasive manner and a knack for thinking creatively. You’ll need to be persistent and resourceful to gather the information your clients need— and discreet enough to do it without being noticed. Investigators and private detectives have responsibilities as varied as court record searches… accident reconstruction… and surveillance. Legal investigators usually work for law firms to help prepare criminal defenses. Hours may fluctuate dramatically when you need to contact people outside of normal work hours. Requirements for entering this career depend on the area of specialization, from a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, computer science, or finance, to a high school diploma and on-the-job-training. A background in the military or law enforcement is common. Most states require a professional license. Many investigators are willing to put up with the long hours and drudgery in exchange for those moments of excitement and discovery. In this field—being nosey is a virtue.
What they do:
Gather, analyze, compile and report information regarding individuals or organizations to clients, or detect occurrences of unlawful acts or infractions of rules in private establishment.
On the job, you would:
Write reports or case summaries to document investigations.
Conduct private investigations on a paid basis.
Search computer databases, credit reports, public records, tax or legal filings, or other resources to locate persons or to compile information for investigations.
Arts and Humanities
Safety and Government
law and government
public safety and security
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
talking to others
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
pay attention to something without being distracted
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include leading, making decisions, and business.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Electronic mail software
Graphics or photo imaging software
Computer imaging software
bachelor's degree or high school diploma/GED usually needed
Examples of Registered Apprenticeship programs include:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.