A day in the life of a private investigator

Still not sure if a career as a private investigator is for you? Here is some insight on what a day in the life of a private investigator is like:

1. A project-oriented position. There is no such thing as a 9 to 5 job in this industry. Depending on the complexity of a case, you may spend a few hours running a background check or days conducting surveillance and gathering intelligence to produce a report for a client.

2. Some danger involved.1 Because private investigators are sometimes required to perform surveillance on suspected fraud/criminal activity, PIs may find themselves encountering people who would do anything to prevent them from getting the information. It is a good idea for PIs to have some background in self defense and weapons training to prepare them for unexpected and sometimes dangerous situations to prevent them from getting harmed.

3. Boredom2. Surveillance is not always easy because documenting the right moment on camera takes patience and detailed observation. One PI mentions that surveillance requires hours of research, driving miles to the case and sitting around for hours on a site waiting for something to happen before documenting it on film and writing a report to the client.2

4. Constant learning. There’s no one right way to approach a case. Students are taught the foundational skills necessary for a private investigator. The application of the skill to a job depends on the requirements of a case, and not all cases are the same. Furthermore, technology in tools used by PIs are constantly evolving and PIs need to attend regular workshops and classes to stay on top of their industry.

5. People skills required. Whether you are working with clients or interviewing subjects, PIs are required to work with people. As such listening skills and ability to filter through massive information to extract useful information are crucial to this job. PIs also need to be able to understand the clients’ needs in order to deliver the results within their expectations.

If you are a person who thrives on routine, then perhaps a career as a PI may not be the right one for you. Given the variety of cases and the different strategies and tactics involved in obtaining the information required to clients, a PI’s job varies from day to day and from case to case. However, if you are someone who is project-oriented (and willing to do whatever it takes to see a project through from inception to completion), enjoys interaction with people and likes working with technology, then you should look into a career as a PI. There are a number of websites which interview PIs to provide a better understanding on this field – these are great resources for students wanting more insight into this field.

1. Private Investigator Advice HQ. What is it like to be a private investigator
2. Art of Manliness. How and Why to become a Private Investigator

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