Career Profile: Private Investigator

Career Profile: Private Investigator

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Many people enjoy mysteries on television or in books. They like the challenge of trying to solve the mystery before the detective does and enjoy learning how the different parts of the story fit together. Some people also like solving mysteries in real life. How would you like to do that for a living and become a private investigator?

If nothing very exciting happens to you or your friends, it might seem as if there is no mystery in life. A closer look, though, might show that you really have many different puzzles to solve. Suppose that your friend’s bicycle disappears. You could follow the clues and try to find out what happened to it. If one of your family members suddenly started being secretive, you could ask questions to find out why. The information that you get could help you and your family.

Finding information is the most important part of a private investigator’s job. Some people in this field use their skills to find missing people or to solve crimes. Often, private investigators work together with the police. They might work individually or in a company. Some of the most famous private investigators worked for a company called Pinkerton’s in the United States.

Many of the people who joined Pinkerton’s were former police detectives, and they used the skills that they had used in their jobs for the new investigations. However, people without that background can also learn the skills of private investigation from books, through courses at a career college, or on the job with other investigators.

A lot has changed since the first Pinkerton’s detectives, but many of the basic skills are the same. Private investigators still look for information, but some of the tools for doing that have changed. Being able to talk to people and get answers is a very important skill. Sometimes, a person in the investigation might know all of the answers but might not realize it or might not want to admit it. Besides talking with people, private investigators should be able to use various tools such as the Internet or different databases to find information. The tools for each investigation might vary, but many of the basics are still the same.

Having a good education is useful for private investigation. Many people in this field have degrees in areas such as criminal justice or even science or literature. Almost any area of study can be helpful, and it is important to keep on learning.

In Canada, all private investigators have to be licensed. This means that they need to pass an exam to show that they know the country’s laws and the techniques of investigation. They should not have a criminal record or be under investigation for a crime. Besides that, they usually need to be healthy and active so that they can walk long distances when they are following people or doing other parts of their work. They should have good memories and be able to keep information organized. For some jobs, they might need to work alone, but being able to work well with others is helpful.

Some private investigators work in areas like security and background checking. Large companies might hire them to check potential employees to see if they have told the truth in their job applications. Other people might hire them to provide security guards for events like concerts or sports games or possibly to help protect politicians or other famous people. Sometimes, private investigators might also work for individuals, such as people who are looking for family members or who need help with another problem.

Salaries for private investigators can vary widely, depending on where and how much they work. Some very experienced investigators can earn about $90,000 per year, but the average salary is closer to $35,000. Experience can help, and gaining skill in solving problems is the best way to advance in this career.

If you love to solve mysteries and are good with people, why not consider becoming a private investigator?


Alberta Learning Information Service. “Occupational Profile: Private Investigator.” https://occinfo.alis.alberta.ca/occinfopreview/info/browse-occupations/occupation-profile.html?id=71003126.

Career Profiles. “Private Investigator and Detective.” http://www.careerprofiles.info/private-investigator-detective-career.html.

Discover Criminal Justice.com. “Career Profile: Private Investigator.” http://discovercriminaljustice.com/career-profiles/private-investigator/.

Neuvoo.ca. “Private Investigator Salary in Canada.” https://neuvoo.ca/salary/private-investigator/.

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