Private Investigator

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Private investigators conduct investigations for clients and prepare evidence for court proceedings. They are often involved with matters of insurance, missing persons and character Future Growth Strong enquiries. They may hold licences or perform the duties of a process server or private bailiff.

Private investigators conduct research and obtain information for their clients about personal or criminal matters, or help them locate missing persons. They conduct surveillance in order to locate missing persons or witnesses, obtain private or sensitive information about people of interest to their case from witnesses or personal observation, and maintain records of their findings. Private investigators may also work undercover to gather specific information about, or for, individuals or companies, conduct asset and liability checks, gather information on the theft of personal or commercial property, and provide advice on security.

ANZSCO description: 442214: Conducts investigations for clients and prepares evidence for court proceedings. Registration or licensing is required.

Alternative names: Private Detective, Private Eye, Private Inquiry Agent

Specialisations: Corporate Investigator, Individual Private Investigator, Legal Private Investigator

Private Investigator looking

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A private investigatior needs:

  • curiosity and an eye for detail
  • honesty and trustworthiness
  • discretion and confidentiality when dealing with private information
  • research and investigation skills
  • persistence and a methodical approach to their work
  • strong communication skills

Duties and Tasks

Private investigators may perform the following tasks:

  • conduct surveillance and maintain records
  • seek missing persons and locate witnesses
  • take videos or photographs for use as evidenceEquipment
  • work undercover in organisations to gather specific information
  • gather information for use in legal proceedings
  • conduct asset and liability checks
  • investigate the theft of private or commercial property
  • provide advice about corporate and personal security
  • investigate insurance or worker's compensation claims
  • prepare reports of investigations
  • take statements from witnesses.



Working conditions

Private investigators are usually self-employed. They work for individual clients, companies and sometimes solicitors. They usually work in offices, but are often required to obtain information about an individual's whereabouts or behaviour by following or tracking them. They usually travel locally, but may be required to travel greater distances at times. They work whenever it is necessary to obtain information for their clients, which may include evenings and on weekends. They are sometimes required to deal with people who are aggressive, and they occasionally risk physical or verbal abuse.Private investigators work indoors in offices and outdoors conducting surveillance. They may need to travel locally or interstate and often work outside of office hours.

Tools and technologies

Private investigators use computers and other office equipment, as well as data management and record-keeping software. When undertaking surveillance activities they may use binoculars, microphones, and video or audio recording equipment to obtain evidence. They also handle evidence that may be used either in legal or criminal proceedings, such as financial records, bounced cheques or repossessed equipment. Private investigators usually require the use of a vehicle.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a private investigator you usually need to complete a formal qualification in investigation, accredited by the Australian Police in each State or Territory.

The Certificate III in Investigative Services is offered at some registered training organisations throughout Australia.

To work as a private investigator you must obtain a licence to either conduct investigations (Investigator licence) or to advertise and supply the services of investigators (Inquiry Agent licence).

Employment Opportunities

Employment of private investigators is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Demand for private investigators will continue to grow as a result of security concerns, the need to protect confidential information, and the ability of individuals to pay for private investigations. Strong competition can be expected for jobs.

Did You Know?


Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by British author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A London-based "consulting detective" whose abilities border on the fantastic, Holmes is known for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases.

The character first appeared in print in 1887, and was featured in four novels and 56 short stories by Conan Doyle, as well as later works by other authors.
(Source: Wikipedia)

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