Private Investigator jobs(Also known as Private Detective, Private Eye, PI, Sleuth, Gumshoe, Dick, Snoop, Bloodhound, Tail (slang), Professional Investigator)
A private investigator is likely to be hired by an individual or company to collect evidence on a case. Cases may be of a professional nature e.g. investigating whether an insurance claim is fraudulent, or personal e.g. whether a spouse is cheating on their partner or the investigation of alimony claims. Private investigators are likely to work on a commission basis if self employed or in a specific area if employed by a company or solicitor. Commissions may vary depending upon skillset and often previous experience/ job role. The role is one of gathering evidence rather than solving crimes and it is important to note that a private investigator has neither legal jurisdiction nor any obligation to solve crimes. A private investigator will be expected to act within the rule of law and it is important that they do so in order to ensure that evidence is not invalidated when presented in a legal context. The methods utilised are likely to vary depending upon the task, but are likely to include both desk work and investigative procedures including surveillance. The techniques employed will ultimately be a key part of the job and will define the success of the investigator. Likely jobs will include
- process serving
- searching for missing persons
- child custody cases
- investigating adultery
- tracing parentage for adopted individuals
- due diligence - namely credit checks, neighbourhood investigation for potential house purchasers and background searches for potential employees
- debt recovery
- investigating fraud
- advising on surveillance and bugging equipment
SalaryPrivate investigators will tend to be self-employed and individual fees for a particular job will be negotiated with a client either beforehand or on an ongoing basis. It is likely that expenses and mileage will also be met by the client where they form a significant part of the individual commission. Hourly rates are also likely to vary depending upon the job but you should expect to charge between £20-£100 per hour depending upon the task (see below). Insurance investigators are likely to start on around £20,000 which can be expected to increase to about £50,000 with significant experience.
- Process Serving - private investigators are often commissioned to notify a plaintiff that a lawsuit has been filed against them.
- Research - private investigators will be expected to engage in both investigative and desk based research to establish the facts of a case. This may require substantial expertise in specialist audio and visual surveillance equipment as well as IT skills. A considerable amount of time may be spent using databases or establishing key facts that form the foundations of an investigation.
- Surveillance and counter-surveillance, including the use of specialist equipment.
- Preparing cases for presentation in court.
- Interviewing witnesses and preparing statements.
- Preparing and maintaining accurate files and case notes.
QualificationsThere are no pre-requisites to becoming a private investigator although the Security Industry Authority ("SIA") in consultation with the Home Office concluded that there was a significant need for licensing within the industry and in the future you should expect to pass an identity and Criminal Records check as well as demonstrate appropriate skills. A background in either the law and/or legal system will prove useful. You will also need knowledge of data protection, health and safety and confidentiality of information legislation as well as a thorough understanding of a range of investigative methods. There is a range of highly specialised fields as well, such as forensic accounting and IT investigation. In order to practise these roles specialist qualifications are likely to be needed. These may include exams such as the ACA or Certified Fraud Examiner. There is now a range of qualifications available for those considering entering the industry; qualifications of note are:
- NVQ Level 3 in Intelligence Analysis.
- Institute of Professional Investigators' City & Guilds qualification in Security (Investigation)
- Institute of Professional Investigators' two-day Foundation course for new investigators,
- The Academy of Professional Investigation's distance learning course in private investigation.
- Association of British Investigators' courses
- Degree level study in forensics and investigative studies, criminology and criminal investigation.
- Research and Investigation - you must be able to research information meticulously to ascertain the facts in a case. This may involve having knowledge of IT systems as well as being able to perform credit checks. You will also need to ensure that all bases are covered so that an investigation is watertight if it goes to court. Performing proper investigation will also involve exceptional organisation and planning skills.
- Communication - you will need to be able to convey and present both verbal and written information clearly and accurately. There may be instances where information is highly sensitive and you will have to deliver this appropriately. There will also be circumstances where you work with other professionals and you will need to have a proper manner and be able to work well in a team.
- Person - you will need to be analytical and attentive with a desire to ascertain facts. You will need to be observant and curious by nature and, if self employed, develop networking skills to source new business leads. For surveillance and investigative work you may have to apply exceptional discretion to ensure that a case is not compromised.
- Knowledge - you must maintain a knowledge of computer techniques and in certain circumstances meet CPD requirements. You will also need to maintain knowledge of legislation and data protection developments.