Do You Want to Be a Private Investigator?
Next to being a spy, being a private eye is probably the most glamorous profession that anyone can think of. Most people first become aware of the profession by watching movies and television dramas that feature characters like Charlie’s Angels, Columbo, Monk, or Spenser. It all looks like exciting stuff.
With all that glamor and attention, it is easy to forget that private investigation is a service that is in demand, not just the subject of dramas. What do private investigators do? Here’s what the Occupational Outlook Handbook has to say . . .
“Private detectives and investigators find facts and analyze information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, including verifying people's backgrounds, tracing missing persons, investigating computer crimes, and protecting celebrities.”
The Occupational Outlook Handbook also states that the number of jobs for private detectives and investigators should grow 21 percent between 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. And the Handbook also states that the median yearly annual wage of private detectives and investigators in 2010 was $42,870.
Picture Yourself Doing This
If you ask a small group of people to describe what private investigators do, many of them will say “matrimonial investigations.” There is truth in that, because private eyes are often retained by men and women who suspect their spouses of infidelity. But as a private investigator, chances are that you will find yourself handling a case more like this . . .
An electronics wholesaler was losing merchandise from one of its warehouses, and decided to retain a private investigating firm to identify those responsible. The investigator decided to conduct as much of his work as possible during non-business hours, since his presence in the warehouse would have alerted the thieves that an investigation was underway. He started out by asking for the specific dates when the company had learned that merchandise was missing. He also asked how the losses were reported, and by whom. Finally, he asked for data about which employees were absent on which days. From simple analysis, he was able to pinpoint some patterns. All the thefts had taken place on days when one specific employee had called in sick or was on vacation. And in all cases, one other specific employee had alerted the company to the fact that something had been stolen. Were those two employees working together to pilfer merchandise? The investigator wasn’t sure. But when he watched the home of one of the workers on a Saturday when the man was not working, the investigator saw the employee loading his car with boxes and driving them to a warehouse in a deserted area outside a nearby city. At that point the investigator told the company management that he believed he had found one of the thieves. At that point, the management of the electronics wholesaler notified the police. Police found stolen merchandise in the second warehouse, and the investigator’s job was done.
That is one example of the kind of work that private investigators are called upon to perform. It might not be as glamorous as the work that is shown on evening crime dramas. But it is exciting work nonetheless, based on deduction and proven investigative techniques.
If that kind of work interests you, it might also interest you to know that you can start exploring a career in private investigation by taking courses online. An interesting career could be in your future.
Introduction to Criminal Justice