Private investigator

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Private investigators (PIs) make enquiries on behalf of their clients to find out information and check facts.

Salary range: Variable

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

How to become a private investigator

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • a specialist course offered by a professional body
The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

College

You could do the Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Private Investigation.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

Work

If you’re already in the police force you could be selected to complete the National Investigators’ Examination and be a private investigator for the police.

Direct application

There are currently no set entry requirements to become a private investigator.

Experience working in an enforcement or investigative role, with the police, armed forces or local authority, would be useful.

Other routes

You can do a private Investigator course through a professional body or private training organisation.

More information

Career tips

If you want to be self-employed, you’ll need the ability to run your own business and have some legal knowledge around information laws and data protection.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a private investigator from the Association of British Investigators and Institute of Professional Investigators.

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • active listening skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • persistence and determination
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll usually need to have a driving licence.

Although private investigator licensing is subject to approval, the government’s intention is to regulate this industry, by making it a criminal offence to operate as a private investigator without a licence.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • monitoring people
  • investigating fraudulent insurance or accident claims
  • tracing missing people or pets
  • handing legal documents to people, known as process serving
  • investigating commercial piracy, like copying software illegally
  • making background checks on employees

Working environment

You could work in an office or from home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior investigator or team manager, or set up your own agency and have other investigators working for you.