We've built the world's most comprehensive career test. Our questionnaire measures over 180 traits to match you against 500+ careers. Our mission is to help you find your calling in life.Take the career test
Also known as: Private Investigator
Private detectives find facts and analyze information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, including verifying people's backgrounds, tracing missing persons, investigating computer crimes, and protecting celebrities.
A Private Detective is a specialized type of Detective.
Would you make a good private detective? Sokanu's free assessment reveals your exact compatibility with this career, your strengths, and any unique areas of interest.
Private detectives typically do the following:
Private detectives typically work for individuals, attorneys, and businesses. Some have their own investigative agency. Private detectives offer many services, based on clients' needs. They may perform pre-employment background checks or look into a charge that someone has been stealing money from a company. They might be hired to prove or disprove infidelity in a divorce case.
Private detectives use a variety of tools when researching the facts in a case. Much of their work is done with a computer, which allows them to quickly get information, such as records of a person’s prior arrests, telephone numbers, social networking-site details, and emails. They make phone calls to verify facts, such as a person's income and place of employment. They also interview people when conducting a background investigation. Investigators may go undercover, pretending to be someone else to go unnoticed, to get information, or to observe a suspect.
Detectives also conduct surveillance when investigating a case. They may watch a site, such as the person's home or office, often from an inconspicuous location or a vehicle. Using photographic and video cameras, binoculars, and global positioning systems (GPS), detectives gather information on persons of interest. Surveillance can be time consuming. Detectives and investigators must be mindful of the law when conducting investigations.
They must have a good understanding of federal and local laws, such as privacy laws, and other legal issues affecting their work. However, as the legality of certain methods may be unclear, investigators and detectives must make use good judgment when deciding how to pursue a case. They must collect evidence properly, so that it can be used legally in court.
Private detectives work in a wide variety of environments, depending on the case that they are working on. Some spend more time in their offices conducting computer searches and making phone calls. Others spend more time in the field, conducting interviews or doing surveillance.
Investigators generally work alone, but they may work with others while conducting surveillance or following a subject. Some of the work involves confrontation, so the job can be stressful and dangerous. Some situations, such as certain bodyguard assignments for corporate or celebrity clients, call for the investigator to be armed. In most cases, however, a weapon is not necessary because private detectives and investigators’ purpose is information gathering and not law enforcement or criminal apprehension.
Owners of investigative agencies have the added stress of having to deal with demanding and, sometimes, distraught clients. Private detectives often work irregular hours because they need to conduct surveillance and to contact people outside of normal work hours. They may work early mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays. In addition, they may have to work outdoors, or from a vehicle, in all kinds of weather.
Perhaps it was an impression created by reading Nancy Drew books as a child or watching Remington Steel reruns, but a career choice as a private investigator seems larger than life.
From being bodyguard to Judy Garland and tracing Fidel Castro's secret daughter to uncovering a Wall Street scandal and spying on Donald Trump's wives, investigator Joe Mullen has had a lot of fun during his 45-year career.
From digging up dirt on a cheating partner to exposing the lies of an accident victim, Ali Wirsche and Marnie Milot were at the top of their game when they were wooed by Bow Valley College in Calgary to train budding private investigators...
Frequently Asked Questions About Private Investigators
A private investigator (who can also be known as a PI, private eye, or private detective) is a professional who is hired by law firms, corporations, insurance agencies, private individuals, or other entities to gather intelligence and confirm or disprove information.
Thanks to books, movies and TV shows, many people have a clear mental image of the stereotypical private investigator. But just how much of the P.I. lore is really true? How many of the events depicted in fiction are really possible -- or legal? In this article, we'll explore what it takes to become a private investigator and exactly what the job involves.