When the subject of private detectives and investigators comes up, most people think of Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade or other fictional private detectives that have made the profession famous. Partially dark, cluttered offices and somewhat eccentric characters come to mind. The story line repeats itself. A client, most often a beautiful woman, hires a private detective because she suspects her husband of marital infidelity and needs proof. The PI goes through several difficult situations to get to the truth of the matter and in the end solves the case cleverly with the help of a sidekick and some highly unusual methods of investigation.
The truth is a bit different and certainly not always as glamorous. Private detectives, as the name suggests, work mostly for private citizens, groups, or businesses, not for the government. It is their job to collect facts and information, not to arrest or prosecute. Some private investigators are self-employed; some work for a private detective agency, and others may work for financial institutions, security services, or credit collection services. Most of them specialize in a certain field. For example, someone who has an extensive background or a degree in business could be hired to work as a corporate investigator. A person with background in either law enforcement or the legal field could become a criminal defense investigator and work with defense attorneys. Their job duties often include public or private record searches, interviewing witnesses, and writing reports. In this field, it is important to have the ability to make people feel comfortable enough to supply useful information.
Becoming a private eye involves a lot of training and licensing. While prior experience in law enforcement, the military or other related fields may be helpful, it does not replace the training necessary to become a private detective or investigator. This training includes working with an experienced agent as an apprentice for a certain amount of time, or traditional classroom instruction. Each state, however, has different requirements for the licensing of a private detective agency or an individual pursuing that career. Read more.