There are an estimated 100,000 private investigators in the United States. As a former Federal agent and a private investigator for almost 50 years (38 as a PI), my educated guess is that less than 1% make a full-time living at this occupation. Some might say I am being overly optimistic.
As with any other profession, a number of private investigators have little or no business expertise. They may have multiple investigative skills, but with no business acumen they are doomed to fail. Many go out and buy a Mercedes-Benz one month and then are perplexed in figuring out how to buy gas for the vehicle the next month.Seeing Life Through Private Eyes, I praise my colleagues in the business. In the introduction I wrote,
Here is what you need to know: a top-notch (private) investigator is your best friend in all kinds of situations. He (or she) is trained to solve the mysteries; uncover the problem, and correct misdeeds in a way that keeps you safe, doesn’t waste your time, money, or energy and gets the job done efficiently. You regain your peace of mind and move on with your life!
The first chapter of the book is titled, The Life Of A PI. It provides insights into what a PI does on a daily basis. Days are never the same with most being truly challenging This chapter guides people looking for a PI in their area that can address their specific needs. Chapter 11, “The Ethics of Investigating, How to Hire the Right PI” is also a valuable resource.
My firm is a full-service investigative agency. Thirty-eight years ago, I started my business after being injured as a federal agent. I had an executive suite office shared with many others, a phone that didn’t ring and an empty rolodex (remember those?) I did not have the luxury to concentrate on one area of the business as that would have been financial suicide. Consequently, I took on any and all cases. That was sheer survival not choice. The months turned to years and those into almost four decades to 2019, where we still perform almost every investigative task. We had no choice. Those of you thinking about a PI career do have choices.
Most PI businesses start today with the owner having retired from the law enforcement community where they have a pension. Others choose to leave their current employment but have time to think out a business plan. Those generally always result in focusing on a specific area of the PI business and not a full-service endeavor. That is probably wise for the vast majority hoping to make a living in our world.
Truth be told, many private investigators only want to work in a specific genre of the business. It is probably a good choice to have an area of specialization. Some firms concentrate of conducting surveillance, be it marital or worker’s compensation. Some will want to work for a single attorney and/or firm. Others will do work for the county in which they reside or the insurance industry – where the pay is minimal but the work is usually unlimited in volume.
Many PI’s will decide they only want to do background investigations with some venturing out into the world of asset searches. Many will focus on civil litigation while their counterparts will develop a history working on only criminal cases.
Elite private investigators have talents in the area of interview and interrogation, and they tend to specialize in corporate America. They determine who is stealing time, money or product. This type of case is the highest hourly rate paid for private investigators.
Lastly, many will focus on the doing work for the public. It can be tough dealing with the emotional issues involved in all aspects of the business, including most of the cases mentioned above. Many think marital surveillances are what most PI’s do. For example, in our agency, martial work represents only 8% of our total revenues.
The real trick is finding a competent investigator to help you, your family or your business. You do have to put in some effort and research in order to find the best fit for your situation. You can always call my staff at the number below and we will make every effort to assist you at no charge and/or refer you to someone in your area.