If you're seriously considering becoming a private investigator (PI), you will need to do quite a bit of preparation for your new career. You will need particular skills, specialist surveillance equipment and perhaps training, all to convince a client that you are the perfect person for the job.
- A driving licence and vehicle. The life of a private investigator is hardly ever wholly spent behind a desk. While you may do quite a lot of work online and on your computer, PIs spend a lot of their time out in the field. This is why it is essential to have access to a vehicle at a moment's notice and to have a clean, valid driving licence.
- Experience or training. There aren't currently any set entry requirements for becoming a private detective, although in the future you may be required to complete recognised training and gain a licence. However, most people in this field have experience in police or security sectors or have undergone training courses with reputable providers.
- Knowledge of the law. As a PI, it is essential that you act within the law at all times when carrying out your work. You need to respect laws relating to privacy and have a good understanding of what evidence a client needs in order to succeed in a legal case.
- Particular skills - observation, logic, analytics, communication. Exceptional observation skills are crucial for private investigators, but it's also important to know how to analyse data and communicate well in both written reports and when giving verbal evidence.
- Certain traits - patience, honesty, integrity. Investigation and surveillance require long hours of waiting, where nothing may happen. This is why patience is an essential trait in a PI, along with a commitment to work with honesty and integrity at all times.
- Binoculars. No PI can conduct surveillance without a trusty pair of binoculars, even if it does seem something of a cliché.
- Audio and video surveillance equipment. As well as observing through binoculars, private investigators need to be able to record evidence of what they see and hear for their clients. Listening equipment, call recording devices, body-worn and fixed CCTV spy cameras are all sound investments for the serious PI.
- A GPS satellite navigation system. As a private investigator, your work will take you to many new and unfamiliar places. To navigate without wasting time, you need a good and regularly updated Sat Nav system for your vehicle.
- Battery chargers and storage devices. With all of your spy cameras and other surveillance equipment, you'll need two key things - USB and other storage devices for the many hours of footage you'll record, and emergency chargers for those crucial moments when battery life is low.
- Specialist equipment. There are situations in your new career which may require specialist equipment, such as encryption devices and GPS vehicle trackers. You should always keep a budget set aside for these kinds of purchases, if and when you should need them.
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