Investigation as a Career

What does a private investigator do?

Private investigators carry out professional investigations for a variety of clients. They work with solicitors, insurance companies, councils, private companies and individuals. The work can be very varied, with no two days being the same. Types of work include:

  • Process serving – delivery and presenting of legal papers to companies and individuals.
  • Surveillance – connected with marital problems, accident and sickness claims, industrial fraud.
  • Tracing missing persons – debtors, absconders, relatives, movers.
  • Locus Quo – preparing photographs, site plans and reports on locations, particularly for road traffic accident investigations.
  • Statement taking – of suspects and witnesses.
  • Enquiries – background checks on companies and individuals, financial investigations, information gathering.
  • Repossessions – of vehicles and property.
  • Criminal Defence – working for solicitors making enquiries, taking statements, preparing reports.
  • Test Purchasing – for businesses checking staff adherence to policies, fraud investigations.
    And much more …

Employment Opportunities

Private investigators are usually self-employed, running their own agencies. Work is regularly sub-contracted between agencies, particularly process serving and surveillance.

There are a limited number of opportunities to work for larger agencies, and within investigation departments of larger companies, such as risk management consultancies and security businesses.

Getting started

There are no formal qualifications required to start as a private investigator. Experience in a related field, such as police, military police or other security work, would be an advantage, but is not essential. Many private investigators come from other backgrounds and succeed in investigation as a second career choice.


As a private investigator, you will need:

  • good spoken communication skills to deal with clients, and conduct interviews.
  • good written communication skills to prepare reports for clients, and papers for court.
  • excellent observational skills to undertake surveillance.
  • attention to detail when investigating.
  • the self-confidence to present information in court.
  • good computer skills to use on-line resources and office software.
  • honesty and integrity.
  • the ability to work independently.
  • a logical approach to your work.
  • patience and perseverance.

How to get started

There are 4 routes to a career as a private investigator – buy a franchise, buy an existing detective agency, start on your own, work for an existing detective agency.

Buy a franchise

Franchising is the fast-track route to running your own detective agency. All the benefits of running your own agency, with the backing of an established business helping and guiding you. Email us at for more information.

Buy an existing detective agency

As most detective agencies are one-man businesses, without the structures to support a new owner, there are few opportunities for new entrants.

Start on your own

Many agencies start this way. Bluemoon College provides a range of training courses on the skills you will require.

Work for an existing detective agency

There are few opportunities for employment with existing agencies as most are small.