Private Detectives and Investigators

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Also known as:  Certified Legal Investigator, Licensed Private Investigator, Loss Prevention Detective, Private Detective, Private Eye, Private Investigator, Skip Tracer, Store Detective

ABOUT PRIVATE DETECTIVE OR INVESTIGATOR CAREERS

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT Expand
Movies and TV can make private investigative or detective work look pretty glamorous - but the modern PI is more a researcher than an action hero. Most often, licensed private investigators or detectives round up facts, not felons. Some investigators conduct private inquiries for clients, looking fo ...
r missing persons or proof of infidelity. But far more people in this field work for stores, hotels, large agencies, or security and risk management companies. Their job is to investigate theft, fraud, and other crimes involving money.

Their tools are computers, phones, and cameras - along with a persuasive manner and a knack for thinking outside the box. They need to be clever, persistent, and resourceful to gather the information their clients need and discreet enough to do it without being noticed.

The work is becoming increasingly specialized. A majority of investigators work for insurance companies on workers' compensation and other claims involving possible fraud. Legal investigators usually work for law firms to help prepare criminal defenses. This might involve locating and interviewing witnesses, serving legal documents and reviewing evidence.

Investigators may have responsibilities as varied as executive protection, record searches, accident re-construction, "de-bugging," and polygraph examinations. There are no formal education requirements for most private detective and investigator jobs, though many in this field hold college degrees. Often they have had related experience working in the military or in law enforcement. People in this field don't mind putting up with the drudgery for some occasional drama, and for them, "being nosy" is a virtue.
SNAPSHOT Expand
Gather, analyze, compile and report information regarding individuals or organizations to clients, or detect occurrences of unlawful acts or infractions of rules in private establishment.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
HIGH
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
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DAILY TASKS Expand
Testify at hearings or court trials to present evidence.
Write reports or case summaries to document investigations.
Conduct private investigations on a paid basis.
Obtain and analyze information on suspects, crimes, or disturbances to solve cases, to identify criminal activity, or to gather information for court cases.
Conduct background investigations of individuals, such as pre-employment checks, to obtain information about an individual's character, financial status or personal history.
Question persons to obtain evidence for cases of divorce, child custody, or missing persons or information about individuals' character or financial status.
Search computer databases, credit reports, public records, tax or legal filings, or other resources to locate persons or to compile information for investigations.
Observe and document activities of individuals to detect unlawful acts or to obtain evidence for cases, using binoculars and still or video cameras.
MAIN ACTIVITIES Expand
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE Expand
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Economics and Accounting Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
KEY ABILITIES Expand
Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Deductive Reasoning The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Written Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Speech Clarity The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
TOP SKILLS Expand
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
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