Private Investigators work independently and in cooperation with Law Enforcing offices. They provide their services to clients who hire them. The majority of the work they do is similar to that of a Detective, often conducting investigations on missing people, doing background checks on people, and researching information on legal, financial, or criminal investigation.
Private Investigators are not legally authorized to perform acts that would otherwise be performed by a Police Officer (e.g. arresting people or conducting warranted searches), they may carry and use a firearm provided they have the necessary permits. They are, nevertheless, often required to present the results and findings of their investigations to their clients or in a court of law as testimony and evidence.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Private Investigators are required to complete.
- Interviewing people to collect information:
- Tracking down people involved with the investigation;
- conducting interviews to gather information; and
- writing reports based on findings.
- Researching information:
- Going through legal or financial records;
- finding information for research;
- verifying the veracity and source of all information found; and
- collecting evidence.
- Performing surveillance:
- Following crime suspects or persons of interest for the investigation;
- recording their activities and whereabouts; and
- informing clients of findings.
- Investigating computer related crimes, kidnappings, disappearances, homicides, suspicious activity, and theft.
- Working in tandem with Law Enforcement offices:
- Sharing investigation results and findings;
- interviewing detained suspects; and
- assisting in the investigation.
- Meeting with their client to show investigation findings.
- Updating clients in the progress of the investigation; and
- asking about further information for the investigation.
- Perform personal background research:
- Investigate past activities and characteristics of a person.
- Performing undercover investigations:
- Evaluating performance or honesty of employees of a company by posing as one or as a client.
- Apprehending criminal suspects or criminals and take them to the authorities.
- Presenting investigation results as evidence and giving testimony in a court of law when necessary:
- Transcribing interviews conducted; and
- organizing evidence to be presented in court.
- Interviewing people to gather information on a case.
- Researching information related to a case.
- Doing surveillance work.
- Going undercover to find information.
- Collecting evidence to be used in a court of law.
- Investigating crimes.
- Handling legal documents and court citations.
- Performing background checks on people.
The average Private Investigator salary is $37,656 per year or $19 per hour. This is around 1.1 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $26,000 while most experienced workers make up to $53,000. These results are based on 55 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent communication skills:
- Being able to perform interviews to uncover information;
- being familiarized with signs of false testimony and lies;
- knowing how to extract answers out of resilient people; and
- being able to work with aggressive and violent people.
- Highly analytical:
- Possessing strong observational skills, being able to assess different situations and to identify possible clues.
- Good organizational skills:
- Being able to work on several cases at the same time;
- writing reports based on investigation findings;
- Good computer skills:
- Being able to use a computer to conduct information research over the internet; and
- processing and transcribing information.
- Excellent problem-solving skills:
- Being able to promptly and accurately assess situations;
- staying calm and focused in chaotic situations; and
- exercising caution in dangerous situations.
- Outstanding levels of integrity, morality, honesty, and responsibility.
- Handling sensitive or confidential information.
Private Investigators are often self-employed or work for a Private Investigation agency tending to all sorts of clients. The educational requirements to become a Private Investigator are not standardized and vary greatly from one agency to another. The most common degrees employers look for when hiring candidates to work for their agency are Criminal Justice, Social Sciences, Criminology, and Law Enforcement. Many agencies also look for candidates with previous experience as Police Officers or as Detectives due to the investigative aspect of the job.
All Private Investigators in Canada are, however, required to possess a valid licence in order to practice their job. The licence can be obtained by completing a course and passing an exam sanctioned by the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services.
Self-employed Private Investigators usually have some background in Law Enforcement or as Investigators. They often need to have the ability to run their own business, find clients, and advertise their services. All private investigators, however, also need to possess legal knowledge regarding the laws and regulations governing their work.