Becoming a private investigator is very glamorous. This however does not mean that people can easily become private investigators. It requires persistent hard work as well as the right skill set for a prospective would be PI.
How to Become a Private Investigator?
No particular degree is needed for joining this field, although prospective investigators should have attained some form of college or high school education. They must also comply by state licensing and certification laws. A PI license is a pre-requisite for anyone planning to open up a PI firm. Educational and training requirements needed depend upon the category that you are pursuing in this field. Corporate investigators need a bachelor's degree in a field related to accounting, business or finance. Legal investigators should have a background in law as they are hired by lawyers and law firms. A sound knowledge and understanding of federal state and local laws is imperative in this line. Financial investigators are often required to be certified public accountants (CPAs) as they have to work with investment bankers and other accountants.
Computer forensics investigators should acquire a bachelor's degree in a related field. This could be in computer science or criminal justice. Certificate programs in computer forensics are also offered by most universities and colleges along with bachelor's and master's degree. Extensive on-job training is almost always needed because of the rapidly changing nature of their work. More essential for a successful career is an appropriate aptitude. They will need excellent communication and problem solving skills, inquisitiveness and keenness of mind, and credible and honest personality. They must also be trained in the use of appropriate equipment like global positioning systems (GPS), photographic and video cameras and other surveillance equipment.
What do Private Investigators Do?
The job description of this field involves gathering facts and analyzing information and data related to financial, personal and legal matters.
Background verification of individuals;
Computer Crime Investigation;
Locating missing persons;
In order to accomplish this, they conduct interviews with people, gather evidence that can be presented in court and diligently search both non-computerized and computerized records. In recent years, PIs have often been hired to investigate cyber and computer crimes like identity thefts, internet scams and illegal downloads. Their work often requires them to conduct surveillance and they may go undercover to observe suspects. In addition to this they often help out in cases of missing persons, fraud, insurance claims and criminal and civil liability.
What is the Employment Outlook?
As the world experiences advances in technology, the need for heightened security has become evident. Therefore, the demand for these professionals is expected to increase as they are hired by detective and investigative agencies, federal intelligence agencies, law firms and businesses. Some even opt to open their own agencies. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, their employment is projected to grow by 21% from 2010 to 2020.
How is the Work Environment?
Private investigators spend most of their time researching and collecting and documenting relevant information. Mostly they work on computers in order to gather official as well as undisclosed information from sources such as police records, official telephone numbers, social networking sites and emails. A great amount of field work is also involved. Most of them do not have the luxury of regular work hours as there is surveillance work involved.