Private Investigators – Who They Are and What They Do

In general, the job of a private investigator is commonly stereotyped as glamorous and dangerous. On television, PIs such as Magnum kept many viewers entranced and on the edge of their seats. Many fictional PIs, such as Sam Spade, would be characterized as ‘hard boiled’, meaning they have seen it all, done it all, and it all falls right off their backs at the end of the day. Private investigators in real life lead a much different and pretty mundane existence. Much of the work they do is termed as ‘hurry up and wait’. For every assignment they take on, there is usually hours of mundane research, investigation, surveillance, and various paperwork-related duties, compared to a very few minutes of action, if any.

Are There Different Types of PIs?

The first thought that may come to mind when thinking of private investigators is that they follow people around and take pictures. There are many that do just that, but there are also many classifications of private investigator that just don’t come to mind immediately. Private investigators may work for large corporations, doing background checks on employees or during the hiring process, investigating insurance fraud, or doing investigative computer work. Not all private investigators follow cheating spouses or winnow out spies for the government, though there are those that do. Investigators may also work for hotels, stores, legal agencies, financial institutions, and many other places that any type of investigative work is needed. There are a vast number of different things that investigators look into.

Are There Any Requirements to be a Private Investigator?

There are usually no hard and fast rules concerning requirements to become a private investigator. Many PIs have some type of law enforcement background, and understand how the law works in their area. It is a must for PIs to understand the law as it applies on their local, state, and Federal levels. They are trying to make things right for their clients, not aid their clients in breaking laws.

Many people feel more comfortable with a PI that has a postsecondary degree in some type of law or criminal justice, and it helps when they have some type of experience. Of course, a law degree is not as helpful for those PIs that are more into some type of computer forensics or insurance fraud investigations, but it all depends on the actual type of investigations the PI is interested in doing or specializes in.

With very few exceptions, most states require that a PI be licensed to do investigative work, and this license does have to be renewed. There is no national standard in place at this time for the licensure of private investigators. Most states also have minimum age limits as well, set at 18 or 21. A PI that has a license may find it much easier to do their investigations, and any extra certifications can provide more willingness on the part of others to truly respect the abilities of a PI.

If a situation calls for a PI to be armed, the PI must have the certifications required to carry any type of firearm. Laws 針孔偵測器 differ from state to state, and PIs must know the laws of a particular state before entering into that state with a firearm.

What is the Work Environment Like?

A private investigator’s work environment largely depends upon the type of investigation they are doing. If they are working primarily on computers, it is likely that the environment will be climate controlled and much more pleasant than those that work ‘on the street’. Hours can be incredibly long and unpredictable, especially during a surveillance mission. Undercover work can be even more unpredictable as the situation normally calls for a far different lifestyle than the investigator normally leads.

It is not uncommon for many PIs to work alone, and many prefer to do so. However, it is also common to see PIs work with one or more team members, and they may be called into a working group that involves many other professions.

The job is stressful most especially for PIs that come into contact with distraught clients or may have a confrontation with someone they are investigating. The job can be dangerous and physically demanding at times. A PI must try to keep as healthy as possible due to the stressing demands of long, irregular hours, having to sit still for hours and possibly several days, and understand how to deal with emotional clients as well as confrontational subjects.


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