Becoming an Investigator

You may be starting out on a new career path, or you may be considering a change of employment, or indeed be looking to start a business in investigation.

Starting Out in Investigation.

For those readers who have no investigation background at all, we recommend a number of simultaneous approaches.

First of all, seek training. The Institute provides an excellent online Foundation Professional Investigators Foundation Course and a Person Tracing Course but investigative training need not, and should not, be all that is undertaken. We also endorse a Professional Investigator Surveillance Course

Secondly, start composing your Curriculum Vitae. Make a note of every achievement, both in terms of academic qualifications and experience. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate – keep the content simple to read, and absolutely accurate. Bear in mind that your prospective employer, better than anyone else, will be able to check its accuracy.

Third, consider offering your services on a freelance basis. Let local investigators know that you are available for work. There may come a time when they need enthusiastic manpower for relatively simple work. Don’t dismiss such an opportunity. This industry is very much one where what you can do, and your willingness to do it, can influence your future career prospects.

Don’t restrict yourself, investigation is a term covering a wide range of investigative work. Credit reference agencies, charities, banks, etc, all use investigation staff in-house. Consider approaching them for career opportunities.

Don’t expect adventure and excitement. This is not a romantic profession. But it IS an interesting one.

Consider getting a few years experience, and some training, by seeking employment with police, HM Customs, HM Forces, local authorities or other agencies. Learn the trade, and get paid for doing so.

Important: The Private Security Industry Act 2001 proposed licensing requirements on investigators providing their services to clients on a contracted basis. It will therefore be incumbent upon any licence applicant that they have no relevant prior convictions.

Starting an Investigation Business
In order to start an investigation business, a prospective investigator must consider what services they are going to provide, e.g. debt collection, tracing, process serving, internal theft investigation – the list is extensive.

Professional standards dictate that an investigator should not offer services they are unable or unqualified to provide, UNLESS they can provide those services on an agency basis. Membership of a professional body such as the IPI allows investigators a nation-wide network of agents who can act on their behalf in such situations.

Notwithstanding the event of licensing, investigation businesses should also register with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a Data Controller, have professional indemnity insurance (not compulsory but advisable); and any other professional qualifications applicable to the services provided (e.g. bailiffs, accountants).