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Becoming a Detective      

So you want to be a P.I.- a Private Investigator- a detective. It is a tough job but if you like it, it can be exciting as well. The hours can be long hours and the duties are highly varied. It is a natural choice for retired law enforment, but it is tough duty for the person who goes into the field green. How do you become a detective in New York? What kind of training is needed to enter and succeed in this profession?

It is projected that this field will grow along with increases in salaries and perhaps benefits. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an 11% growth rate for private investigators from 2012 to 2022. The current median salary is $45,740, with 50% of the private investigators today making more than this. The very best private detectives can make $79,000 a year.

The responsibilities of a private investigator can range from assisting in the search for missing persons, collecting evidence for civil cases such as divorces, doing background checks, conducting surveillance, investigating computer crimes, testifying or giving depositions, interviewing witnesses, and working for individuals, attorneys and businesses.

You could also be involved with investigations of corporations and businesses such as intellectual fraud, IT (Information Technology) forensics, and financial investigations or corporate fraud.  You might also work for lawyers on both criminal and civil cases. Other private investigators might work for an insurance company investigating insurance fraud.

Training and Licensing

Becoming a private investigator requires several years of prior experience in law enforcement.  Licensing can vary from state to state by all require a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED. In some states or with some clients, a minimum of an associate or bachelor’s degree is required.

If you want to work for an established private investigator corporate agency then typically you will need to have completed bachelor degree. After this you must study for and pass a state licensing test if required, or simply apply for and attain a state private investigator license.

In some states detectives are allowed to carry firearms and in others they are allow to carry firearms that are hidden.

Qualities of a Successful Private Investigator

  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Intuitive and Inquisitive Nature
  • Excellent Observation and Deduction Skills
  • Solid Decision Making Ability
  • Outstanding Listening Skills
  • Patience
  • Ability to Solve Puzzles and be Resourceful

A good private investigator must have all of these qualities as you gather evidence, question involved persons, observe details and behavior, follow up on leads, make quick and correct decisions and have the ability to wait for the correct answer and all the evidence. Then the ability to communicate the results to your client is also essential.

Best Places to Work

The states that employ the most number of private investigators include Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, California and Texas. However the best pay is in Nebraska, Washington, Virginia, Alaska and Texas. This means Texas is your best bet with a lot of good paying jobs. The annual salary is between $64,400 and $70,500.


So if you have the temperament for it, being a private investigator in the right job and the right city, you can do very well both financially and in job sastifaction.

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