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Private Detective or Investigator

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Life As a Private Detective or Investigator

Example of Private Detective or Investigator Job Gather, analyze, compile and report information regarding individuals or organizations to clients, or detect occurrences of unlawful acts or infractions of rules in private establishment.

List of Private Detective or Investigator Job Duties

  • Write reports or case summaries to document investigations.
  • Alert appropriate personnel to suspects' locations.
  • Expose fraudulent insurance claims or stolen funds.
  • Conduct private investigations on a paid basis.
  • Testify at hearings or court trials to present evidence.
  • Apprehend suspects and release them to law enforcement authorities or security personnel.

What a Private Detective or Investigator Should Know

These are the skills Private Detectives and Investigators say are the most useful in their careers:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

  • Loss Prevention Investigator
  • Detective Investigator
  • Background Investigator
  • Special Investigator
  • Intelligence Agent

Private Detective or Investigator Job Outlook

There were about 41,400 jobs for Private Detective or Investigator in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 10.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 4,400 new jobs for Private Detective or Investigator by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 4,500 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Private Detective or Investigator are Utah, Tennessee, and Iowa. Watch out if you plan on working in Nebraska, Montana, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Private Detective or Investigator

The average yearly salary of a Private Detective or Investigator ranges between $29,310 and $89,200.


Private Detectives and Investigators who work in Nevada, District of Columbia, or Alaska, make the highest salaries.

How much do Private Detectives and Investigators make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $54,200
Alaska $69,210
Arizona $53,680
Arkansas $47,090
California $67,970
Colorado $53,860
Connecticut $53,410
Delaware $49,250
District of Columbia $72,190
Florida $41,850
Georgia $49,360
Idaho $57,420
Illinois $60,630
Indiana $48,250
Kansas $52,090
Kentucky $46,940
Louisiana $47,070
Maryland $58,520
Massachusetts $49,290
Michigan $52,010
Mississippi $46,890
Missouri $56,700
Montana $49,090
Nevada $64,080
New Hampshire $52,810
New Jersey $64,250
New Mexico $55,360
New York $61,950
North Carolina $53,050
Ohio $43,060
Oklahoma $42,820
Oregon $55,240
Pennsylvania $45,950
Rhode Island $55,290
South Carolina $50,150
South Dakota $39,040
Texas $49,250
Utah $46,310
Virginia $66,590
Washington $61,210
West Virginia $42,290
Wisconsin $43,790

What Tools do Private Detectives and Investigators Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Private Detectives and Investigators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Data entry software
  • Email software
  • LexisNexis
  • Computer imaging software

Becoming a Private Detective or Investigator

Individuals working as a Private Detective or Investigator have obtained the following education levels:


How Long Does it Take to Become a Private Detective or Investigator?


Who Employs Private Detectives and Investigators?


The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.



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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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