Private investigator

Alternative titles for this job include PI

Private investigators carry out enquiries for their clients to find out information and check facts.

Average salary (a year)

Variable

Typical hours (a week)

46 to 48 irregular

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays as customers demand

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

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) for a level 3 course

More information

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 Investigators' Course through the Institute of Private Investigators.

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.

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
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

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
  • fraud investigation (for example, for insurance or accident claims)
  • tracing missing people or pets
  • handling legal documents to people (process serving)
  • investigating commercial piracy (like copying software illegally)
  • background checks on employees

Working environment

You could work in an office or from home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

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

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a private investigator right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Certificate in Public and Security Services 2 x GCSE re-sit - Level 2

  • Provider: DERBY COLLEGE
  • Start date: 01 August 2019
  • Location: Ilkeston

Principles of Providing Security Services

  • Provider: Gloucestershire College
  • Start date: 18 March 2019
  • Location: CHELTENHAM

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No