Most students tend to go into general practice following the completion of their program. However, some students may have additional expertise and experience in other areas which enable them to specialize early in their careers. On the other hand, depending on the types of cases PIs work with in their careers, they may be able to specialize in areas based on their experience and further training. Below are some of the common areas of private investigations1:
Missing persons: One of the top specializations in private investigations and students who are thinking of specializing in this area should acquire expertise and experience in skip tracing. This area of private investigation expands into locating missing heirs, adoptee/birth parent as well as bond recovery searches.
Insurance: Insurance investigations require extensive surveillance as well as sharp interview skills. Students who wish to specialize in insurance investigations should also acquire a thorough knowledge of the insurance industry in order to better understand the business.
Background: Background investigations are required by corporations as well as the government as a necessary step to screen prospective candidates prior to issuing employment offers. Background checks are also used for candidates who are looking to run for political offices.
Litigation: PIs work with attorneys and law firms to obtain intelligence and information which would support their case. This specialization not only requires students to have a solid understanding of the law, but it also requires students to be well versed in the areas of surveillance, research as well as interviewing skills. The cases which require the assistance of PIs span across all areas of corporate as well as domestic crimes.
Database/online searches: Some PIs specialize in the area of online information and intelligence collection. This specialization is more of a desk job rather than a job in the field. Students who are interested in this area may work for the government or information brokers.
Computer forensics: With the increase rate of corporate crimes, technology savvy PIs are engaged in this area of investigation which requires digging up hidden information from a corporation’s computers. Cases in this area of investigation includes, embezzlement, corporate espionage as well as manipulative reporting.
Changes in the industry and the incorporation of technology in the private investigative industry, students are expected to continue their education (on an ongoing basis) via workshops and industry events. A great private investigator stays on top of the industry and will continue their education to develop subject matter expertise in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
1. PI Mall. Investigative Specializations