If you've always liked the idea of being a private investigator, you're
in luck -- the job market is right. But the competition is tough. Technological
skills and higher education will make you more marketable.
That's why the instructors in the law and security administration program
at Conestoga College are preparing their students to use the Internet effectively.
Cameron Veitch is an instructor in the program. Veitch firmly believes
that students should have the knowledge they need in this area before they
leave school. "In the course on careers offered in our program, students must
research a firm that they would be interested in working for and provide a
report from the Internet."
More specialized investigation services requiring extensive technological
knowledge are very much in demand.
"Identity theft, Internet use and continued application of technology to
business operations will increase the demand for people capable of providing
technology-related services and investigating criminal or civil cases involving
the use of whatever technology is being used," says John W. Ellis. He is a
licensed private detective with the Kansas Association for Private Investigators.
Privacy issues and access to personal information are at the center of
Diane Cowan is involved with the National Association of Legal Investigators
(NALI). "It is my belief that the economy will absolutely dictate the nature
of investigations required, as will legislation," she says.
"Current legislative issues are threatening our industry's access to information.
Without the access, investigators will have to improvise and frankly work
much harder. This, of course, translates into more expense to the client and
not necessarily the result preferred."
Reduced government spending on police forces and a rising fear of crime
may also increase demand for security officers. "There will continue to be
demand for private investigative services," says Ellis. "Some areas of the
justice system require services that the public agencies cannot or will not
Advances in technology unfortunately lead to new types of crime. Identity
theft is one. This crime starts with thieves going through the trash at a
person's bank, workplace or home.
From there, thieves are able to create a false profile to apply for credit
cards or loans and even rent apartments.
This type of crime costs the victim a lot of time and money to resolve.
With technological and investigative skills, investigators are able to track
criminals down and even prevent future crimes.
Other crimes that are increasing the demand for skilled private investigators
include financial fraud and other so-called white-collar crimes, and crimes
related to the increased use of technology in business.
Veitch feels that by gaining a formal education in law and security administration,
students will be better prepared for the world of work and will be able to
meet the challenges that are changing the future careers of private investigators.
"I want to see more training and more requirements for this field. I also
want to increase the level of professionalism, which reflects back on co-workers,
employers, the industry and the general public."
Private investigators can add to their credentials by completing professional
courses, such as the certified protection officer certification. This course
covers a wide range of topics, a few of which include crisis intervention,
bomb threats and report writing.
Many people entering this field already have extensive experience in a
related field, such as law enforcement or a military background. Skills that
match the needs of potential clients will make people the most successful
at finding the sought-after jobs.
Some experts believe that on-the-job training, a good attitude and natural
investigative abilities are just as valuable as formal training and education.
These things will be a strong foundation on which experience can be built.
However, without technological knowledge and an understanding of how the
profession is changing, even the most dedicated individual may be left out
of the race for available jobs.
National Association of Legal Investigators
One of the largest associations for legal investigators
Check out the electronic resources available for private investigators
Council of International Investigators
Get the latest news on happenings in the industry