#19: How to Advance in Your Private Investigation Career

The reason I am writing this blog is because I found this topic being searched for in Google. However this topic is not really covered very well so I figured it would be a good topic to write about.  If you are ever going to start your own business, it would only make sense that you moved up and learned more about the company you are currently working for.  I wrote this blog article for the insurance investigator in mind but these tips can relate to any company or any specialization in the private investigation industry.


Nearly 10 years ago I began my adventure in the private investigation industry.  I got my start with a company called Omega Insurance Services.  Omega was a fast growing company that supported Insurance Companies with their investigation on claims.  The company was nationwide and had an investigator on the payroll in nearly every state.  We did a ton of recorded statements, scene investigations, surveillance, alive and well checks, and activity checks.  I worked for and with investigators with unbelievable talent and was fortunate to learn quite a bit from them all.  With a lot of effort, I worked my way up through the company ranks to be a territory supervisor after working for the company for a few years.

Moving up in your career is going to take hard work and effort on your part.  There is no easy recipe or magic formula.  The tips given below are what helped me and many others in my field move up within our respective private investigation companies.


But before we get into how to move up within a company, you need to determine what your overall objective is going to be in this profession.  Do you want to be as Supervisor or a Manager? Is that where your career will end?  Do you want to own your own business or do you want to take that knowledge and work for another company?  The possibilities are endless but you need to start with a big picture goal in mind.


Below is a list of actions and behaviors that will bring positive attention to you with your employer.

1.)    Volunteer– Cases are going to come up that require travel, being away from your family and that are on holidays.  Volunteering to work the cases that no one wants to work will show your employer that you are a team player.  They will trust that you will be the employee they can turn to when they are in a jam.

2.)    Build relationships– When you build relationships with people you build trust.  Trust is very important in the investigation industry.  Build relationships with coworkers and supervisors.


a.)    Go above and beyond their requests if possible

b.)    Make sure your reports are turned in on time

c.)     Ask questions (learn from their knowledge)

d.)    Get results the right way (the better results the more you appear to be an authority in the industry)

e.)    Express your interest in other positions and ask what the steps are to reach those positions

f.)     Don’t leap frog authority.  Use the chain of command. They will respect that you always keep them in the loop.

g.)    Be likeable.  Don’t argue with your boss unless they are asking you to do something unethical, illegal, or dangerous.


a.)    Learn from coworkers by asking questions.  Find out what works for them when it comes to obtaining results.

b.)    Give coworkers recognition when applicable

c.)    Find out about their interests

d.)    Be likeable

e.)    Help a coworker out when possible.

f.)     Be a leader – Do the right thing when no one is looking

g.)    Share your knowledge


There is no way you are going to move up within a company unless you apply for positions that become available. Typically during the hiring process you learn more about positions and what they are looking for in that position.  If you don’t meet those requirements, you will at least gain the knowledge of what is required and become more visible to your employer. If you qualify for a position and you don’t get the job, apply again as soon as a position opens up.  I have had to apply for positions more than once in my lifetime and persistence paid off.  I would take the knowledge I learned from the first hiring process and apply it to the second one.  Typically hiring managers are impressed by persistence and look forward to hearing how you improved yourself since you last applied for the position.


Private investigation companies like experience, education, and certifications.  You can only help your career by increasing your knowledge.  Private Investigators with experience, education, and certifications have no problems getting hired and less of a difficult time getting promoted.  In addition, you want to have experience in various aspects of investigation so you can draw on that experience to make educated decisions for your employees and your company’s clients.

a.)    EXPERIENCE– This is something that comes with time.  Experience is also something you have quite a bit of control over.  With that being said, make sure you are gaining experience in various aspects of your industry.  For the insurance investigation industry gain experience in the following fields:

1.)    Scene investigations

2.)    Surveillance

3.)    Recorded Statements

4.)    Alive and Well Checks

5.)    Mortgage Investigations

6.)    Arson Investigations

7.)    Vehicle Theft Investigations

8.)    AOE/COE Investigations

9.)    Background Checks

10.) Activity Checks

11.) Death Investigations

b.)    EDUCATION- If you are going to grow in any business you need to educate yourself.  I recommend enrolling in college and getting your associates degree in Criminal Justice or Business.  Criminal Justice teaches you about laws and the Judicial System. An associate degree in Criminal Justice is a good foundation for your private investigation career.  If you get your Bachelors degree in Business you will learn a variety of things including management, and business strategies.

Check out local Junior Colleges in your area and see if they have online learning.  If the Junior College in your area does not have online classes, see what the night classes are like and if will work with your schedule.  If night classes do not work with your schedule I would checkout the University of Phoenix.  At the very least speak with a counselor either at the Junior College or the University of Phoenix to get a better idea of the cost and time requirements needed to get a degree.

c.)     CERTIFICATIONS- Companies love certifications in the private investigation field.  My first certificate/certification was through Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates.  The certificate was for Interview and Interrogation techniques.  Just having this one certificate opened up several opportunities for me.

Certified Fraud Examiner is another certification that may be worth getting.  Personally after I graduate from college I will be aiming for this certification.

Certified Arson or Fire Investigator– Every company wants someone with this certification and experience on staff.

Seminars– Private investigator seminars are inexpensive alternatives to learning things that you might not otherwise be exposed to.  Typically the investigators presenting in the seminars are some of the best at what they do.  Check with local private investigator associations to see if they are hosting any seminars.


                I typically don’t read for enjoyment.  Most of my reading comes in the form of self help books.  I read book and magazines on business.  I have read management books, self accountability books, and private investigations books.  If there is one thing I am certain of is that I will never have all the answers, and there is always someone out there that knows more than I do.  With that being said, find books that you think may help you develop skill in business or management.  I have listed a few books I have read over the years on my Private Investigator Resources page.  If you find books that have been good for you, message me with the name of the books.  I would love to find new resources.


My last bit of advice before I wrap this up is that you need  to see how others in your company are moving up.  Pick the brain of people getting promoted or those that have already been promoted.  Not all companies are the same.  It is up to you to figure out what your company is looking for.  If the your company is looking for investigators with specific certifications, get those certifications.


It’s only up to you to grow in this industry.  Invest in yourself and it will pay dividends in the future.  Good luck in your careers. If you like this post make sure to share it with other or leave a comment.