Common Job Skills for Private Investigators
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Description A private investigator, a private detective or investigation agent, is someone who may be employed by people, firms or NGOs to undertake investigative services. Private investigators most often work as agents for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. They also carry out research activities. Private investigators can also be media professionals engaged in investigative reporting.
These days, many private investigators are engaged in providing investigative services, either as part of their regular business or as a sideline activity. Some specialize in carrying out background checks on people they meet or who approach them. This can help in the prevention of fraud and crimes and in identifying suspects in cases where the victims do not know the identity of their assailant.
Education and Training Requirements Private investigators should be registered with the State Police. They undergo training and examination and then must obtain a license to practice. Private investigators need to have good academic background and a good command on the English language. They must have a clear understanding of criminal law, courts, procedures and civil procedure, computer law, privacy laws, investigation techniques and surveillance. It is important that investigators undergo refresher courses periodically.
Criminal Background Checks On applicants for private investigation licenses, there is some information that is required. Applicants must provide personal and business references. Applicants must also submit letters of reference from previous employers or clients. Applicants may also be required to submit fingerprints and photos. Private investigators need to pass a written proficiency test on criminal law and knowledge of investigation techniques.
License Requirements Private investigators need a license to practice, but there are some states that allow non-licensed investigators to work. For instance, in Illinois, non-licensed investigators are prohibited from conducting surveillance or interviewing without a license. Other states do not regulate investigation activities at all.
Training and Certification Most private investigators receive formal training and certification. Some become experts by specializing in child custody, corporate crime and financial crimes. Others become experts by participating in seminars and workshops. Continuing education is important for professionals because it enables them to keep abreast of the latest research in their field. It also enables them to hone their skills and perform better.
Certification is sometimes necessary for investigators who want to pursue higher positions. There are state and federal laws that govern investigation and many times investigators are required to obtain specific certifications. Specialization in criminal justice is one example where state regulations require criminal justice specialists to obtain certifications specific to that field. These are only a few of the areas where investigators may choose to specialize.
Licensing and Certification Requirements Private investigators must meet certain requirements before they can practice in most states. Private investigators must be at least 18 years old, pass a written exam, and obtain a license from the appropriate jurisdiction. Each state has its own rules and regulations that determine what type of licensing is required. Students who are considering a career as an investigator should research state regulations very carefully.
Interviewing Techniques interview techniques vary between private investigators. Some specialize in conducting interviews only and others may include telephone calls and interviews over the phone. Some investigators conduct meetings and telephone interviews in person. Private investigators may include interviewing potential witnesses in a legal proceeding, or they may contact potential victims to gather additional information or collect information about an alleged perpetrator.
Insurance Company Research Since insurance investigators are considered to be a professional service provider, they are often hired by insurance companies to investigate claims. Insurance investigators may work with clients to gather information related to the loss under a policy. They may also perform investigations of loss prevention measures taken by the insurance company, or they may conduct interviews with clients and potential victims to collect facts related to the claim. Insurance investigators may work in conjunction with another agency such as a crime lab to gather evidence to support a case being filed under insurance policies.
Outsourcing investigative services is becoming more popular with many private investigators specializing in outsourced investigative services. These investigative services can range from helping with immigration issues to assisting in bankruptcy cases. There are many private investigators who are able to provide a wide range of outsourced investigative services. These investigative services can include computer forensics, document recovery, telemarketing, background checks, intellectual property verification, or any other form of investigative service that is beneficial to an individual or organization.
Legal investigators must understand local laws and regulations in order to properly take photos and obtain documents in court. To effectively take photos in court, investigators must have proper lighting, use the right equipment for the job at hand, and know how to take photos at different angles. Investigators who take photos in line with the law will most likely receive a favorable verdict when their client appears in a court of law. The same goes for documents that must be properly documented. With all of these legal issues and tasks, most private investigators are left thinking they are pretty handy with their skills.