Typically, detectives are employed by companies to assist in loss and theft prevention. Examples of prospective employers for detectives include insurance companies, which use detectives when determining settlement shares; organizations that require background checks and security clearances, which use detectives as a part of the hiring process; and retail companies, where they may assist with loss prevention.
The essence of what a detective does is to gather data as evidence that will be used to support a conclusion, proposal, or action to be taken by the employer. A detective employed as part of loss prevention in a retail setting may work undercover, walking around their employer's store and looking for suspicious activity; they may also make recommendations to improve security and suggest ways to eliminate temptation. As an investigator for insurance companies, the detective may gather evidence, as well as conduct limited surveillance and perform interviews; the detective then typically presents the data he or she has gathered to assist the company on how to proceed in a claims settlement. When a detective performs background checks for employers, typically they conduct interviews and verification of prior employment and education through records checks.
To work as a detective, a high school diploma or equivalent is generally required; an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminology or a related field may be required or preferred as well. Prior experience is generally needed as well. Detectives must also be excellent communicators to effectively conduct interviews and create reports as required to summarize gathered evidence.
Respond to incidents and complaints, document interactions, and collect evidence.
File reports, documents, and other paperwork.
Collect, store, protect, and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes to aid investigation.
Work closely with team members and other departments.