Private Investigator – Masters Degree & Salary Information

Private investigators are hired by individuals to supplement the help given from a regular police force or to more subtly investigate another person’s behavior. These professionals cannot make arrests, but most of them do need to have a special license recognized by their city or area. Private investigators find concrete evidence that exposes illegal or questionable behavior in someone’s past or in their current lifestyle. They can be hired by an individual, an insurance company, an attorney’s office or by an employer wanting a detailed background check on an employee or potential job candidate. Private investigators take on cases that ferret out information about or for child custody cases, divorce cases, criminal investigations, civil court, extortion and corruption, and more. They may be hired to conduct individual investigations that need to be kept quiet or they may be needed to give extra assistance to a police force or attorney’s investigation. Private investigators need to be experienced with surveillance, interviewing witnesses and suspects, working in potentially dangerous situations and examining evidence. Former police officers, body guards or military personnel can make very good private investigators. Depending on the local laws, private investigators may or may not be armed, but they must always have a solid understanding of the criminal justice system. If any evidence they acquire was illegally obtained, then their client will not be able to use it in court.

Private investigators are self-employed, awarding them the flexibility to choose their own clients and set their own rates but also the responsibility of publicizing their business and obtaining a steady work flow. The median salary range for private investigators was between $24,180 and $47,740, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This amount largely depends on your experience and reputation, geographic location and kind of clients you are able to attract. If you are self-employed, then you will also be responsible for your own health insurance, vacation time and retirement savings.

Private investigators come from a variety of backgrounds, including insurance, the military, law enforcement and the law. If you want to attract a lot of clients, then you will need to have a lot of proven experience in gathering evidence, conducting surveillance, managing investigations and winning cases. An understanding of the criminal justice system is also a must, so earning a higher degree in this area is also a good idea.

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