Private Detectives and Investigators

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Analytical: 57
  • Social: 56
  • Creative: 43
  • Supported: 24
  • Purpose: 23

What Private Detectives and Investigators Do

Private detectives and investigators search for information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, such as verifying people’s backgrounds and statements, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes.

Work Environment

Private detectives and investigators work in many places, depending on their assignment or case. Some spend more time in offices, doing computer searches, while others spend more time in the field, conducting interviews and performing surveillance. They often work irregular hours. Nearly 1 in 4 were self-employed in 2014.

How to Become a Private Detective or Investigator

Private detectives and investigators mostly need several years of work experience in law enforcement or the military. Workers also must have a high school diploma, and the vast majority of states require private detectives and investigators to have a license.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Private detectives and investigators

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of private detectives and investigators is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for private detectives and investigators will stem from security concerns and from the need to protect confidential information. Strong competition can be expected for jobs.

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    Job Trends for Private Detectives and Investigators

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    This occupation supported 30,000 jobs in 2012 and 34,900 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 16.3%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 11.0% in 2022 to 33,300 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 30,600, compared with an observed value of 34,900, 14.1% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 6.0% in 2024 to 36,700 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 33,900 jobs for 2024, 7.6% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.

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