How to become a Private Investigator

Private investigators conduct investigations for clients and prepare evidence for court proceedings. They are often involved with matters of insurance, missing persons and character enquiries. They may hold licences or perform the duties of a process server or private bailiff.

Personal requirements of a Private Investigator

  • Good communication skills
  • Good observation skills
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Able to accept responsibility
  • Of sound character, with no criminal or other convictions that would prevent you from getting a private investigators licence

Education & Training for a Private Investigator

To become a private investigator you usually have to complete a VET qualification in investigative services. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a private investigator through a traineeship in Investigative Services. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school. In order to begin work, you need to apply for a licence from the relevant body in your state or territory. You may need to supply a National Police Check.

Duties & Tasks of a Private Investigator

Private investigators may perform the following tasks:

  • conduct surveillance and maintain records
  • seek missing persons and locate witnesses
  • take videos or photographs for use as evidence
  • work undercover in organisations to gather specific information
  • gather information for use in legal proceedings
  • conduct asset and liability checks
  • investigate the theft of private or commercial property
  • provide advice about corporate and personal security
  • investigate insurance or worker’s compensation claims
  • prepare reports of investigations
  • take statements from witnesses.

Working conditions for a Private Investigator

Private investigators work indoors in offices and outdoors conducting surveillance. They may need to travel locally or interstate and often work outside of office hours.

Employment Opportunities for a Private Investigator

Most private investigators are self-employed or work in a small team with other agents. Many private investigators enter the occupation after working in the police or defence forces and work in private agencies and commercial and industrial organisations. Work is mainly generated by the investigation of suspected insurance fraud and location of missing persons.

Additional Information
People engaged in security work must be appropriately licensed. For more information, refer to the separate entry for Security Officer. A drivers licence is usually required.
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