Private detectives and investigators have been the subjects of countless movies and TV shows. But while being a Private Investigator or "P.I." can be exciting, the real life career is nothing like the movies.
Patience, persistence, attention to detail, and excellent research skills are what really count.
Private detectives work in many different industries, but the work consists of either protecting something or someone or obtaining information.
For example, investigators may protect the property, employees and customers of stores, hotels, or other commercial businesses; or they may investigate matters of infidelity or fraud, usually to collect evidence for legal actions.
Insurance companies and other firms hire investigators to help eliminate fraudulent disability claims.
Performing background checks on prospective employees may also be part of the job.
A background in law enforcement can be helpful in developing investigative techniques. Even more important is knowing how to find and search through public records such as those for driving, bankruptcy, or real estate. Good research skills, combined with the ability to perform surveillance and interviews without drawing undue attention to yourself, will be important in solving cases.
In addition, since most cases end up in court, private detectives should be articulate as well as properly licensed and bonded so that the testimony presented will be believed by the judge and jury.