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

What does a private investigator do?

As a private investigator, your enquiry work could range from personal issues, for example divorce, to company issues, like suspected theft.

You normally do background research, which may involve asking questions and analysing information. Your work may also include:

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

You usually work alone and you would often be self-employed.

What do I need to do to become a private investigator?

There are currently no set entry requirements to become a private investigator. This is under review and in future you may need to complete recognised training and be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) before you can operate as a private investigator.

Experience gained from working in an enforcement or investigative role, for example, in the police, armed forces or local authority would be useful. A driving licence is usually essential.

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

Related skills

  • Analytics
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Discipline
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT
  • Patience

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You would work in an office, but also spend a lot of time travelling and gathering information.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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