Get paid to get the dirt on others
Like to know the latest gossip? Put that nosiness to work and get paid as a private investigator. You’ll have the opportunity to help other by solving important cases, perhaps even solving a murder. The horrific events of 9/11 have increased the need for quality private investigators.
On a given day you might be solving crimes, protecting celebrities or executives, locating missing persons, investigating fraud, conducting background investigations for employers, or finding that elusive piece evidence which keeps an innocent individual out of prison. Or you might reunite adopted persons with their birthparents.
No special education is required to become a private investigator. In many states you can get started with a license as long as you are 18 years or older. Other states will require you to take a course or pass an exam. A few cities require private investigators to either register or obtain a municipal license in states that do not otherwise require them.
There are some online courses available. It would be worthwhile to take a community college course on criminal justice. It’s also an excellent idea to call a couple of companies and do interview them about their jobs and duties. Of course, you will need a clean criminal record. (Some states do allow misdemeanors on your record.) If you were in the military, an honorable discharge is required.
Pick up a current copy of PI Magazine; you’ll find it interesting and learn a bit more about this intriguing field.
Your skill set should include good communications, reasoning and working well with different types of personalities. It’s helpful to have an ability to learn quickly when you go into industries you have little knowledge of. Good writing skills are a must; you’ll be writing reports frequently and they need to be of professional quality. Proficiency in doing credit checks and internet searches (ie: Lexis-Nexis) will be necessary and will probably be a large part of your work. You’ll need to learn how to use electronic surveillance equipment. You must be honest-and deceptive, lie to search out the truth, alter your appearance and sometimes be evasive.
You’ll need to decide if you will set up your own agency, free lance, or go to work for another company. It’s probably a good idea to work for a company for several months to a few years to gain experience before setting out on your own. If you decide to open your own company, it’s helpful to have business skills such as marketing, billing and collecting debts. Be sure to check into “errors and omissions” insurance.
As a freelancer you might work for individuals, insurance companies, government agencies, retailers, attorneys or other private investigators. Large adjusting companies frequently prefer an employee to have a college degree.