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Criminal Justice School Info

Private Investigator Career

It is common to associate a private investigator career with surveillance, infidelity cases, and the Sherlock Holmes persona; however, there are many avenues to purse in a private investigation career that you may not be aware of. Another question to consider is whether you want to work for a PI firm or agency or if you would rather be a self employed PI. There are pro's and con's to both and it usually is determined by your particular career goals, level of experience in the field, and level of flexiblity desired in taking on PI work.


Choosing a Niche within a Private Investigator Career

Within the general field of private investigating, there are several specializations to pursue, some of which do not require an actual private investigating license. It is important to keep in mind that many PI's perform a variety of these roles and can be described as a "jack of all trades" PI, while others focus on one particular kind of work. The following are some niches to consider:

private investigator starting his career in surveillance

Surveillance & Undercover Operations

  • Do you have a nanny whom you suspect is stealing from you or mistreating your children or perhaps an ex-boyfriend who you suspect is still gaining access to your home when you are at work? There are several techniques in surveillance including telephone tapping, undercover cameras, and more. Those who perform surveillance work must understand the in's and outs of the law pertaining to these activities, which is a major part of their training.

Infidelity Investigation

  • Infidelity investigations involve a whole host of techniques including reviewing telephone bills, check card, and credit card transactions, and general bank statements. Access to phone calls, texts, and social media sites such as facebook can provide clues as well. Is the spouse missing from a routinely scheduled event that forms a pattern of being absent at certain times of the day or week? Is there are business meeting that never existed? These could be clues to possilbe infidelity.

Insurance Fraud Investigation

  • Insurance companies utilize the services of PI's all the time to investigate suspected fraudulent claims. This work usually involves a combination of surveillance as well as interviewing techniques. Depending upon the nature of the fraud, a whole host of investigative work may be required, sometimes in a creative manner within the bounds of the law.

Background Checks

  • Background checks have become a common practice when hiring employees, especially those who may have sensitive roles and information. Getting to know the character and history of these individuals can be done through simple background checks or for more high profile cases, by hiring a PI. This involves searching public records, internet resources, prior arrests, restraining orders, previous employers and known associates, and much, much more.

Runaway Teenagers & Missing Persons

  • When concerned parents feel that local law enforcement isn't enough, they often hire a private investigator to assist with their missing teenager or loved one. This involves checking any traces of whereabouts through credit or debit transactions, phone calls, internet correspondence, using GPS tracking on cell phones, questioning ex's, friends, and persons of interest who may be involved or have information.

Public Record Retrieval

  • This is a broad category in PI work and some agencies simply do public record retrieval and skip tracing. Using the internet, libraries, governmental agencies, and more are used to collect information, perform verifications, or seek out individuals

Serving Subpoenas

  • Some agencies perform the task of the high volume needs of attorneys who must get subpoenas delivered. Many states do not require a PI license for subpoena serving purposes.

Child Custody Issues - Deadbeat Parent Investigation, Skip-Tracing

  • When attempting to locate someone considered a "dead beat" parent who may be attempting to avoid paying child support, PI's are often used to locate and investigate. This involves skip-tracing; you must search for every possible piece of available data on that person and put together a logical explanation for their whereabouts. If found, another element of PI surveillance work comes into play to determine their place of work and then to assist in getting legal action taken.


Female Private Investigators - PI Moms

There is an increasing trend in women pursing a private investigator career and it is widely known that women are just as successful and in some cases, can be more effective in this line of work. There are many roles in which females perform more effectively than their male counterparts involving such cases as adultery, fraud, and in sting operations. Learn more about how to become a PI mom as well as education requirements.



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Women In Law Enforcement

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    According to The National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP), the first women police officer was hired by the Portland, Oregon Police Department in 1905.

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