Private investigators are professionals contracted to find information and obtain evidence. They are typically hired by private citizens, businesses and lawyers, and they occasionally work alongside law enforcement. There are many benefits to being a private investigator. However, there are also negative aspects to the job that should be considered.
Con: Work Schedule
The hours that private investigators work often tend to be odd hours, late-night hours and other inconvenient times. The schedule oftentimes has to be parallel to the person they are investigating or be after hours for business clients. The hours required for some jobs can be quite demanding and require extended daily hours for long periods.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2009, private investigators typically make from $24,700 to $75,970 annually, depending on expertise, employer and location. The average salary is $47,130. Self-employed private investigators, who make up 21 percent of the field, set their own rates doing hourly work or by the job. Investigators working for established businesses make slightly less but also do not have the overhead costs of self-employed investigators.
Private investigation work, including surveillance, carries inherent risks. Investigators are often reported for suspicious activity while on surveillance activities and risk being arrested. Occasions arise where the investigator has to change appearance or vehicles quickly, or the investigator has to react immediately to unforeseen circumstances. The job can become especially dangerous if a criminal suspect notices the private investigator during surveillance.
Pro: Career Outlook
The BLS predicted that the private investigation field will continue to grow approximately 22 percent from 2008 through 2018. This is attributed to increased security and personal safety concerns. There is a growing need to protect identities, trade secrets and financial assets, and to protect loved ones. Criminal background checks conducted by private investigators on behalf of hiring companies are also on the rise.