Many of the skills needed for security guard are also quite applicable to the private investigator business. The ability to communicate clearly, investigative and observation skills, surveillance, background checks, alarm security, court proceedings, crime scene, all these and more are part of private investigator training. There are many different areas for a private investigator to specialize in; insurance fraud, marital/custody disputes, accident reconstruction, skip tracing, criminal defense, product liability, and high-tech intelligence gathering for multi-national corporations.
Certain areas of security guard work are very similar to that of a private investigator. Internal theft prevention (shoplifting) and general surveillance are skills that private investigator training provides. You may have to investigate an insurance claim, personal injury case, or a martial dispute using the same techniques as the FBI’s Special Surveillance Group (SSG). A private investigator will do a lot of background and criminal history checks. This may involve researching the subject’s education, assets, income, lifestyle, and general reputation.
The private investigator must become expert at skip tracing and locating missing persons. This could include locating debtors, witnesses, process serving, auto repossession and even parental kidnapping. The security guard, like a private investigator, must be knowledgeable on the legal aspects of use-of-force, harassment, apprehension and detention, testimony, evidence, crime scene procedures, police and security liaison. You may choose to work as a bounty hunter and have to locate, track down, and arrest bail jumpers and fugitives from justice. The use of certain security devices such as mace, baton, handcuffs, and in dire situations, a firearm, are all part of private investigator work, as well as security guard skills.
Many states do not require any specific P.I. licensing requirements. As a general rule, if you work for a licensed P.I. firm, you do not need a license, while still making $20-$40 an hour. However, if you choose to put your private investigator training to work by starting your own P.I. company, then you may need a license from the state you are working in. Just search “Private Investigator license” and your state for specifics. As a licensed P.I. working self-employed, you could start out at $75-$125 an hour, with the potential for $300-$500,000 a year! So obviously the potential for more money earned is greater for a P.I. as opposed to security guard, but there are some drawbacks.
A security guard job is more stable and routine, with a guaranteed paycheck. P.I.’s have to get self-motivated and really “make things happen”. A security guard may just do regular patrols, watching a parking lot, or sitting in a building monitoring security closed-circuit cameras all night long. So the potential private investigator should first question just how self-motivated they want to be before taking on the P.I. employment field.
The demand for private investigators is expected to grow by 22% over the next decade. This is an exciting job opportunity market for anyone with the necessary skills to enter into. Your security guard skills and background are certainly applicable to private investigator training. Just having a professional image is a good first step into the P.I. field. Many of your job contacts as a security guard can be used as a private investigator. Knowing how the court system works, and liaison with police agencies, is all good cross-over knowledge and skills between security guard and private investigator.
So why not apply that security guard background and begin a career in private investigations? While the work is hard, the rewards are great, including the potential to start your own business in Private Investigations. Choose the field you want to specialize in, and you will be on your new career path as a Private Investigator!