With any career choice there are many questions we need answered. Aside from whether being a private investigator is a rewarding career or a career worth pursuing, the much larger question inevitably becomes, “How much does a private investigator make?”. The salary of a private investigator is understandably important, however there are some important things to consider and to expect when entering the industry which will be discussed in this article.
What is your career goal?
My initial career goal was never to be a small business owner. My initial career goal was to take the investigative skills I had learned through Loss Prevention and apply them to a career as a private investigator. I was working two jobs at the time, had recently married my wife and had a child on the way. I wanted to make more money with less actual hours worked so I could spend more time with my family. I managed to make slightly more money being a private investigator then working two jobs. I entered the investigation industry making $15.50 an hour. Ironically I seemed to work about the same amount of hours if you take into consideration the amount of travel time I had each day and the amount of report writing that took place when I got home. I moved up the ladder within a very large investigative company and was making roughly $45,000 a year as a territory supervisor. There were not many positions or steps above the level I had reached. I might not have made more than 45K a year had I remained with the company.
Nearly 10 years later companies continue to hire investigators at the entry level salary of approximately $15.00 an hour or less.
My advice is to determine what your goals are going to be before you become a private investigator.
- Are you going to be the employee of another company for your entire career? Doing this will severely limit how much you will make.
- Will you use the experience gained while working for a company to eventually open up your own company? Doing this will give you no limit as to the amount of income you can make.
- Will you use the experience as a stepping stone into another career path?
Determining what you will do early on is in your benefit as it will help you determine the different steps you will take early on in your career.
More Money, More Problems. Less Money, More Problems. Your quality of life will be affect by both problems.
There have been moments in my career were I was working 60 hours a week, traveling constantly away from home and making quite a bit more money over the year than anticipated. However money isn’t everything as I missed out on many moments in my child’s life that I wish I was around for. Additionally it put a strain on my relationship with my wife as I was never home to help raise my daughter or to be there for my wife when she needed me. Even though I was making great money, the hours and travel away from my family were unbearable.
There have been times in my career where I was making over $20.00 an hour and less than $30,000 a year. The company I was working for did not have enough work to keep me busy throughout the year. As a result this caused a financial strain on my family.
Not all investigators will have families to worry about or will have the same struggles as a result of working too much or too little. The main thing to take into consideration is that making more money or less money while employed with a company will take its toll in one way or another. Personally my current goal is to make enough money to pay my bills, spend time with my family and watch my children grow up. Aspirations of growing my business will likely not happen until my children are much older.
What salary can an entry level private investigator expect to make?
The very simple answer to this question is between $12.00 and $16.00 an hour depending on the company. There is no guarantee of an expected yearly salary. As previously stated it can vary depending on the work load your company has.
What salary can the experienced private investigators expect to make working for a company?
Experienced private investigators (2 years or more) can expect a starting salary as a field investigator of $17.00 to $21.00 an hour depending on the company. Remember that making an hourly wage does not always translate into a specific yearly wage.
What salary can be expected for a private investigation business owner?
Hopefully if you have decided on the private investigation career path you have also decided to have your own business as well. Being a business owner can be a scary thing but the opportunities are really endless. Private Investigation Agency owners can make anywhere from $0 a year to $_________. That means there is no boundary or limit. Typical Private Investigation Agency owner’s charge anywhere from $55.00 an hour to well over $100.00 an hour. The amount that is charged can depend on the assignment, what you specialize in and how good you are at what you do.
Should you take a job as a private investigator with a low salary?
A friend of mine that’s an investigator recently told me he found a company that was hiring private investigators with no experience at a starting salary of $12.00 an hour, and that the company would train the potential investigator. He felt that the starting salary was grossly low.
My feeling is that even though the starting wage was a low, it was a great opportunity for someone to get their foot in the door and gain some experience as a private investigator. A company is rarely willing to train individuals to become private investigators. People from all over the world are looking for an opportunity. Once you gain some experience you can find another company to work for so you can make a livable wage. This also applies to internships. Working as an intern for free gives you the chance to gain experience and start your career as a private investigator.
What is the future of the Private Investigation Job Market?
There will always be a need for a private investigator’s services. The need will vary depending on your location, laws, the economy, and the services you provided. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the private investigation industry is going to grow approximately 21 percent from 2010 to 2020. It is believed that the industry will increase due to security concerns.
Private investigations have expanded to new markets with the internet age and with the advancement in technology. The more markets that are available means more opportunity for others to enter the investigation field. In my opinion things look good for the industry.