Private Investigator Career Information, Job Outlook & Salary

Private Investigator

Private Investigator Career Overview

A typical day working as a private investigator may not be the dangerous, glamour-filled adventure portrayed on television, but it can still be a great career. Companies and individuals hire private investigators to uncover data and solve problems and mysteries. Often, these investigators have held law enforcement or police jobs, but you can jump in right out of school.

Investigation Degrees and Education

Although a college education is not required, most private investigators do obtain a degree, usually an associate's or bachelor's in criminal justice or police science. You can also look into online criminal justice degrees, which have become readily available. Formal law enforcement training can be very helpful and a private investigator's license is required in most states.

Private Investigator Employment

Approximately 52,000 individuals worked as private investigators in 2006. Investigators work in a wide variety of settings, including detective agencies, retail stores, government departments, and insurance companies. You could also join the 30 percent of private investigators who are self-employed, often doing detective work on the side as a second job.

Private Investigator Job Description

As a private investigator, your job outlook will be excellent. Employment of private investigators is expected to grow faster than average for all careers: about 18 percent over ten years. As concerns about security, confidential information, and lawsuits continue to rise, the need for good investigators will rise with them.

Private Investigator Salary Range

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following annual wages for private investigators. *Salaries will change based on such factors as location, education, and experience.
Low: $23,500
High: $76,640

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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