Friday, March 13, 2009


So, you are thinking about whether a career as a Private Detective is the right choice for you.

Well, let's see if you are up to it. Let's see if you are willing to do what it takes to be a Private Detective.

What are the qualifications to be a Private Detective? Basically it comes down to what your state's requirements are to be registered as a Private Detective. These qualifications vary from state to state. Some states have no requirements whatsoever, other states require a minimum of so many hours of classroom training and or on the job training or field work.

None of these state requirements, no matter how in depth they are, actually qualify you to be an investigator. Oh sure, you can get a certificate that says you are a private detective and you can be licensed in your state or multiple states but it still doesn't mean you really are one.

What makes you a private detective is what is inside you. You have to not only want to find answers to things but you must also be willing to do whatever it takes to get them. Now this doesn't mean breaking the law to get information it means being willing to stick with something until you find the answers.

Sometimes this means long hours, inconvenient hours, uncomfortable working conditions, mean and nasty people, being cold, being hot and uncomfortable, being scared, being hungry, being verbally abused, being threatened, being mad as hell, being frustrated and being awake when most normal people are in bed sleeping soundly.

It can be an exciting business and it can be the most boring and frustrating occupation possible. It all depends on the type of case you are working at the time.

Some people specialize in only certain types of cases but if you truly want to be a private detective you must be willing to work any type of case, anytime, anywhere.

The majority of the time you are involved in mundane tasks like researching records, reviewing documents, or conducting telephone interviews. You may be photographing accident scenes or crime scenes or collecting evidence for analysis. You may be interviewing people and taking statements. You may be conducting surveillance operations. Each case is different and requires different skills. It all depends on what the focus of the investigation is.

You do different things almost every day which makes it interesting. Some days however you do the same thing over and over again which leads to complete boredom and makes you wonder why you picked this profession in the first place.

What you must realize if you pick this as your profession is that you will have no personal life. Nothing you do will be done at your convenience. Everything you do is done at your client's convenience or request or is dictated by the case requirments, which seldom allows you to plan things around your personal desires.

It is not a convenient business. You do not get to go home at 5:00 PM like most folks, even though you may have been working since 5:00 AM. You have to work when the case requires it, especially surveillance work. You do not get to pick the hours, the case requirements pick them for you and you must be willing to work the hours necessary when necessary. Sometimes this means you don't get to go home, sleep or even eat for two to three days at a time. It is just the way it is. If you are not willing to accept that then this is not a career field for you.

How do you feel about using a coffe cup, coffee can or an empty plastic bottle as your own personal bathroom facilities?

Sometimes this is all you have available for days at a time and you have to use it inside your own vehicle because you can't take the time to go find a "real" bathroom.

Are you willing to live this way? Are you willing to live like a pig for several days at a time because the case requires it? If not, this is not for you.

Are you willing to go hungry and be incredibly bored for days at a time? If not, this is not for you.

Are you willing to stare at a door or street location for hours on end with no relief in site for 18-20 hours without reading a book, watching T.V. or otherwise distracting yourself? If not, this is not for you.

Can you stay alert and think on your feet after 15-20 hours on a surveillance and respond immediately when activity occurs? If not, this is not for you.

Usually, if you work as an agent for an investigative company you generally get paid ONLY for those hours that are billable to a client. Some agencies do pay based on a regular 40 hour work week but not many unless they have insurance contracts or something. If you are working for a full service agency (meaning they do anything) they can only pay you for billable hours worked and it is anyone's guess when those billable hours will be available.

It is not uncommon to have to work 60-100 hours in one week. It is also not uncommon to be lucky to get 10 hours of billable time in one week. It is difficult to have any type of personal budget to pay your own bills because you never know from one day to the next let alone one week to the next how many billable (read, you get paid for) hours that you can count on.

If you are the owner of the agency not only do you have to deal with paying your agents but you must also deal with collecting payments from your clients on time so you can pay your agents. If a client stiffs you, your agents don't care, all they want is their paycheck come payday. Kinda hard to pay them if you haven't been paid, which is why you always get as much money up front as possible. (This, in itself could fill an entire book on client relationships)

It takes a certain type of individual to be a private detective. You gotta be willing to live on the edge so to speak, not only professionally but in your personal life too because you never know what is going to happen next, if anything.

But, it does have its rewards. Especially when you are able to right a wrong against an innocent individual. When your efforts result in good trumping evil. When your efforts uncovers the truth. When your efforts makes a significant effect in the life of a child. When your efforts saves someone from significant harm, physically or financially. When your efforts and your efforts alone, are the deciding factor in whether your client wins or loses.

And, occasionally you get to travel to some really nice places in the world and stay first class on the client's dime. Not often, but enough to almost make it all worth while.

Now, do you still think you have what it takes?