Private investigators have long been popular characters in books and movies, but in real life, private investigators are highly skilled and well-paid professionals who do a lot of their work outside of the public eye.
Private investigators collect personal, legal and financial information on individuals and companies and analyze that information for their clients. They find missing people, investigate crimes and verify background information. This work involves:
- Interviewing people
- Searching computer records and databases
- Conducting surveillance
- Verifying facts.
New York state P.I. jobs
Some of the best areas for finding a job as a private investigator are in New York, so if you are looking for an interesting new career, it might pay to enroll in a private investigator school in New York. The education attainment of private investigators varies, but some private investigators may have an associate degree or training from a vocational school.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), New York has one of the highest employment levels for private investigators. There are 1,850 private investigators working in the state of New York, and their mean annual salary in May 2013 was $54,640 -- slightly above the national mean salary of $53,890. One of the highest-paying areas is in neighboring New Jersey, where private investigators earned a mean annual salary of $64,610 in May 2013, the highest in the nation, the BLS reports.
Schools to become a private investigator
Although private investigators pick up much of their skill through on-the-job training, many enter the field from a private investigator school from New York or elsewhere, and some get a two- or four-year college degree. One way to learn about the work in New York may be through a private investigator school, where students may learn the latest techniques and technology needed to perform investigations.
Private investigators often specialize in:
- Gathering legal evidence for court cases
- Investigating insurance fraud
- Uncovering corporate or financial fraud for corporations
- Catching thieves who are attempting to steal from a store
- Performing forensic investigations into computer data and equipment
Licenses and certification
To become a licensed private investigator, New York requires that you be at least 25, pass a written test and have at least three years experience as an employee of a licensed investigator, according to the New York State Division of Licensing. Training from a private investigator school in New York may help prepare students for this type of work. Certain professional organizations, such as the National Association of Legal Investigators, can certify investigators who demonstrate a special skill.
Because private investigators often use computers to collect information for clients, many investigators find that continuing education helps them remain familiar with the latest technology and methods of detecting fraud.
According to the BLS, jobs for private investigators are expected to increase about 11 percent through 2022 -- about the national average for all jobs. Competition for these jobs is expected to be strong, but private investigators with academic training may have a leg up against the competition.
"FAQ - Private Investigator," New York State, Division of Licensing Services, Accessed June 30, 2014, http://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/privateinvest/privatei_faq.html#1
"Private Detectives and Investigators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
"Private Detectives and Investigators," Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/private-detectives-and-investigators.htm
"Private Detectives and Investigators," ONet OnLine, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm