Private investigators are hired to analyze facts and search for information about legal, financial, criminal, and personal matters.
Private investigators are typically responsible for conducting interviews to gather information, collecting evidence to present in a court of law, completing various types of searches, conducting surveillance watches, confirming facts on a person’s background, investigating various computer crimes, and providing assistance with both criminal and civil legal cases.
How much does a private investigator make? According to records from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 23,390 private investigators and detectives that work throughout the United States earn an annual average private investigator salary of $50,780, which equates to a mean hourly wage of $24.42.
While the bottom ten percent in the profession makes $27,670 or less, the top ten percent of private investigators bring home $79,790 each year. Private investigators employed in investigation and security services earn slightly less than average at $46,700, but those that work in the legal services industry make $59,510 annually. The top-paying states for the field are Washington and Texas, where private investigators are compensated with an average salary of $70,510 and $64,810 respectively.
Depending on the particular case that they are working on, private investigators work in a variety of environments in the private sector. Many are employed by investigation and security services firms, local or state governments, legal services, computer systems design, and management consulting services.
Although some spend the majority of their time in an office setting conducting computer searches or making phone calls, many spend more time in the field doing surveillance and interviews. Private investigators often work full-time outside of normal work hours, including early mornings, evenings, weekends, and even holidays.
With heightened security concerns, there will be an increased demand for private investigators to protect people, their property, and confidential information. As technology continues to advance, spikes in cyber crimes, identity theft, financial fraud, and Internet scams will drive the need for investigative service providers in the near future. Therefore, employment for private investigators is expected to grow faster than the national average for other professions at a rate of 21 percent, which will create 7,100 new jobs before 2020.