How do I start a career as a private investigator?
To become a private investigator, you need at least a high school diploma, though many employers may look for additional post-secondary training like a career diploma or criminal justice degree. Private investigators must be licensed, usually by their state, so they do need to meet certain guidelines to qualify. Becoming a licensed private investigator is separate from starting a licensed private investigation firm, so it's important to look into your state requirements for both. Many states also require that you have relevant previous work experience; previous work as a police officer or in the military can usually qualify you to become an investigator.
Additionally, your state may require you to pass a criminal background check.
What are the top qualities of a private investigator?
Successful private investigators share a few qualities that help them in their role. These qualities include strong communication and decision-making skills, patience, resourcefulness, and a commitment to ethics and the law.
What is the average salary of a private investigator?
The average salary for a private investigator was $53,320 in 2020 according to national averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* Salary can vary for investigators depending on whether they are self-employed or work for a corporation or agency. Additionally, salary can vary based on credentials, educational background, work experience, and the state you live in.
What is the difference between a detective and a private investigator?
The main difference between a detective and a private investigator is what they're allowed to do under the law. A detective is usually a police officer. A private investigator does not have the authority of police power and operates under the powers of an ordinary citizen. This means that private investigators must conduct searches, interviews, and more while adhering to federal and local laws. Private investigators cannot enter property without permission, make arrests, or access some criminal files.