Private investigator career path

The private investigative industry provides information collection services to businesses and consumers.1 Jobs in this industry range from performing background checks to surveillance on interested people to locating missing persons. This industry tends to be entrepreneurial and comprised of a large number of small and medium-sized companies rather than large corporation. An average private investigation company has eight employees, with the largest firm employing approximately 600 people.

However, despite the relatively small size of the companies, the private investigative services industry was not impacted by the economic recession and continues to grow at a moderate rate, according to industry reports.2 The reason is largely due to the fact that legal, corporate and personal investigative services are in demand, regardless of economic conditions. However, as corporations’ performance continues to improve, their budget for services such as investigations will likely increase, hence further driving the growth of the private investigation services industry.

Nature of the demand for private investigation services

Why would a company or a person require private investigation services? Law firms often employ private investigators to obtain information that is not publicly available for litigation purposes. Private investigators (PIs) are also engaged to gather information for insurance companies, especially for cases where fraud is suspected. Individuals may hire PIs to search for missing persons or to monitor a suspicious spouse, which may provide grounds for divorces.

What types of individuals work in the private investigation services industry? Contrary to what you may have seen on televisions about PIs, this job does not just involve staking out in the car or tailgating someone on the road. It also requires researching for information on various multimedia channels as well as producing written reports for clients. Because of the specific skills required for this job, people who are PIs may either have formal training through a PI program or have previously worked in the field of law enforcement.

Whether you are thinking of becoming a PI as a first career following high school or you are looking for a career change, a career in the private investigation services can be rewarding for the right person. With an annual growth rate of 2.4% for the past five years and with corporate spending budgets steadily increasing, the outlook for this industry is certainly looking bright. For more information on the private investigation services industry, please consult with your local industry association.

1. Ibis World. Private Detective Services in the US Market Research
2. Ibis World. Private Detective Services in the US Industry Market Research Report

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