Investigator Job Overview
For those who love mysteries and solving puzzles, investigative work can be highly rewarding. It's a broad field that includes a range of corporate positions and self-employment opportunities. From insurance fraud investigating or worker's compensation fraud to contracting with law firms to collect evidence or prove cases, investigative work is anything but boring.
Investigators are vigilant and inconspicuous. They use all methods for research and investigations including technology, personal interviews, surveillance, and the Internet. While there's no typical day in the life of an investigator, s/he can expect to:
- Find facts and analyze information
- Verify backgrounds or other claims
- Find missing persons or items
- Monitor surveillance equipment
- Conduct field interviews
Investigator Job Education Requirements
While a college degree is not required, a background in law enforcement or military is helpful in obtaining a job. Employers are looking for reliability and discipline, and backgrounds in those fields are good preparation. Surveillance knowledge and a keen eye are also critical to success in this position. Investigators should have a clean criminal background and appear credible, as they will likely need to testify in court. A number of states require that private detectives and investigators be licensed.
While vigilance is important, so is flexibility. Investigators work in many places, wherever it takes to gain the information they need.
Continuing education will be largely the employee's responsibility. Knowing the latest technology and search tools is essential to being successful in this role.
Investigator Job Market
In 2012, 30,000 people worked as investigators, and one in five investigators was self-employed. Most investigators are employed in investigations, armored cars, and guard capacities.
The job growth for investigators is expected to be solid, on target with the national average of 11 percent. Most of the future jobs created will involve cybercrimes, fraud, and security. Internet scams and financial fraud are driving the greatest need in the industry. Background checks continue to be a solid source of work for investigators who want to stay removed from confrontation.
Investigator Job Salary Information
The average salary for investigators is $45,740 throughout the industry. However, investigators serving the finance and insurance areas are better compensated; the average for those positions is around $55,660. Investigators in legal services earn $47,080, and those in government average $46,990, so specializing in a particular industry is more lucrative than generalizing.
Investigators can expect to work long, irregular hours, often without a shift differential. This can include weekends, holidays, and overnights. They may work outdoors or from a vehicle for long periods of time. Staying vigilant and still for hours are part of the demands of the job.