Private detectives or investigators find and analyze facts and information, which may range from legal to financial to personal information depending on the needs of their employer (which may be individuals or companies). Their day-to-day tasks may include conducting surveillance on suspects, researching financial and criminal actions against individuals, doing background checks, gathering and reviewing documents, and following an individual's movements to gather information. Other tasks may include assisting in catching sexual predators, helping recover lost assets, and assisting in forensic investigation.
Private detectives may work in the field or behind a desk depending on the needs of specific cases; the work done may also be physically demanding as cases require. Work hours differ as well, as a typical work day may vary greatly depending on the type of work being done at the time. The private detective could be doing work in the field setting up equipment used for surveillance, conducting interviews, or performing surveillance; other days could be spent behind the desk performing computer searches on a range of cases, such as credit card fraud, employee checks, and finding missing persons. At times, they could be locating witnesses or serving legal documents.
Education requirements vary greatly; some private detectives have a postsecondary degree, while others may only have experience in the field. Most training is on the job; however, some private investigators may be former law enforcement officers. Most states require a private investigator to be licensed.
Private Detective or Investigator Tasks
Conduct research on the internet and through the phone to identify people and their locations.
Investigate potential fraud, for instance, insurance fraud.
Analyze data and prioritize work to produce results.
Document tactics, resulting information and information gaps.