How to Become A Private Investigator
What does a private investigator do?
Private Investigators, also known as ‘private eyes’ provide investigative, surveillance, and research services to the public. Private Eyes are also hired by attorneys, banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and various private businesses. They work closely with law enforcement agencies, and in some cases are called in to work ‘cold cases’ where leads have led to no fruitful evidence and nobody has been convicted of a crime, resulting in that particular case being closed. Private detectives use various techniques to uncover facts about legal, financial and personal matters. While a good number of private eyes are self employed, most are employed as security specialists by large corporations and businesses.
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The duties of private detectives vary according to their client’s needs, and in the course of their training and work, they acquire a skill set that can be applied across a number of fields. Legal investigators work for law firms, locating and interviewing witnesses and serving legal documents. They also apprehend people who have violated probation or not paid their bonds. Corporate investigators conduct internal investigations within a large company, and are responsible for ensuring that employees do not violate any laws. Private investigators working for financial institutions are responsible for investigating financial irregularities, in addition to repossessing materials from defaulters who have failed to make their payments. Banks also employ PIs to find missing foreclosure clients, and people who have stopped paying their bills. A large number of PIs are employed by the Insurance industry, to investigate claims and uncover insurance fraud. An emerging area for private investigators is internet security, where investigators deal with computer hackers and strive to prevent identity theft and unauthorized fund transfers.
What sort of education or training is required?
People often wonder how to become a private investigator – for starters, no formal education is required, however most PIs have a bachelor’s degree. Courses in criminal justice or law are extremely helpful in order to become a proficient investigator. A background in a foreign language or information technology can also be helpful since today’s investigative work mostly takes place on computers. Certified accountants interested in investigative work can become financial investigators. Thousands of police officers, detectives and other law enforcement employees turn towards the private investigation industry every year.
Are any specific courses offered for private investigators?
In order to meet the projected demands for private investigators, several private colleges offer courses for aspiring investigators. Most courses last between six and twelve months, and can be taken online as well. These courses include instruction in areas such as criminal law, criminology, psychology, surveillance, photography and electronic surveillance. Students are also taught fraud investigation and interview and interrogation techniques. They can also choose an area of specialization, such as internet investigation, computer forensics, insurance investigation, industrial espionage & crime prevention and financial investigation. Inherent risks and dangers exist in private investigation and often, PIs face situations where they have to confront criminals in the interest of public safety. As such private investigators are taught arrest tactics and self defense techniques. They also learn how to use weapons and, depending on their work, also acquire a special use firearms license.