A private investigator, private detective or investigation agent, is someone who can usually be hired by people, companies or NGOs to undertake investigative services. Private investigators can either work independently or as an element of a larger team. They can also work on a contract basis. Most private investigators work for lawyers in criminal and civil cases. A small number specialize in one or the other area. Some investigation agents specialize in financial crimes, human rights abuses, corporate crimes, sex crimes, etc.
Private detectives require extensive law enforcement and intelligence training. They should have excellent communication skills, investigative and written skills, computer skills, and an understanding of legal procedures. To become an investigator in the US, all private detectives need to pass an intensive examination conducted by the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI). This test assesses candidates’ knowledge in all areas of law enforcement and intelligence analysis.
All US states require private detectives to obtain a federal license. These licenses are usually granted on the basis of thorough police records and work experience. Private detectives may also be required to get fingerprinting, facial recognition and other relevant professional certifications. The most common certifications are those from the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Secret Service, and the Domestic Security Enforcement Training School. Many private detectives have criminal history records which can affect their credibility and ability to work as a consultant.
Private detectives need to maintain continuous relationships with current and potential clients. In order to achieve this, it is important to keep in close contact with all those we have worked with in the past and who are still our clients. These relationships are critical in maintaining a long-term private investigation practice. It is also important to keep in close contact with former clients for information and updates on any changes in your private investigation practice. These are the types of personal contacts that solidify and build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
Most private detectives use investigative techniques which require surveillance, undercover observations and interviews which require a lot of patience, attention and tact. Most investigators use techniques such as interviewing people who have not yet provided any information in exchange for money. They then use the information they gather to either verify facts or make phone calls to confirm suspicions. Private detectives use methods such as surveillance to monitor people they are investigating. This could involve video footage taken from hidden cameras or computer forensics which are used to retrieve data.
Computer forensics is one of the best areas that many private detectives specialize in. Computer forensics is the process of investigating crimes using forensic computer techniques. This includes data recovery, checking physical evidence and fingerprints, which are often compared with digital samples found from a computer system. A criminal justice major may choose to specialize in this area of study if they are planning on entering the field as an instructor, researcher or consultant. This is an excellent way to prepare for a career in criminal justice as there are many private detective agencies and college that offer computer forensics courses.
New investigators must take a test or series of tests in order to become licensed in the state in which they live. There are several ways that private detectives can become licensed. In some states, new investigators must take written examinations and obtain a criminal justice degree. The state may also allow for automatic license renewal upon completion of a certain amount of training. New investigators must be supervised by a current licensed investigator in order to obtain licenses.
Some private detectives work on contingency basis, which means that they receive a percentage of any money recovered. They can make good money for recovering a stolen car or finding a missing person. Before starting your own agency, you should research local regulations to ensure that you are not required to perform a task for free. You should plan on spending several years gaining experience before opening your own agency.