#91: Should You Leave Law Enforcement For a P.I. Career? PIA# 064

I received an email from Steve who lives in Canada.  Steve has a dream of starting his home private investigation company.  Below is Steve’s email:


Hello Andrew,

My name is Steeve and I live in XXXX, Canada.

I am listening your podcast and it helped me to learn more about the P.I. career.

I work as a police officer for now 6 years but before that I did some P.I work about for 5 months, mostly for insurance companies.  It was mostly surveillance and report writing and some court testimony.

I have that dream to open my own P.I business and switch careers.

Honestly I don’t know what I will get myself into but I would love to try.

I don’t know if I should go back as P.I. and work for a bigger company and learn more about the job to be more ready or if I go on my own.

I am not sure to know where to locate my company or how I would get my first contract, equipment and all the starting package if you know what I mean.
I would like to know if you have any advice for my situation.

Thanks for your help
Congrats for your podcast.



Steven had quite a few questions in his email which I answer in the podcast and I will answer in this post as well.  I will answer his first question which is essentially this:

Should I leave my Police Officer job to become a private investigator and start a private investigation business?

I don’t know Steeve’s life in detail or his situation with his current employer, so much of what I answer will be general thoughts of what I might do.

In the United States a law enforcement job usually comes with some sort retirement plan with a decent salary (depending on where you work and no matter what the salary they are probably underpaid) and vacation.  My brother who is a police officer makes really good money when working holidays and overtime.   With that being said if you leave the job of a police officer you are giving up security and benefits for many years to come assuming that you retire from the profession.

As I have said many times before there is not a heck of a lot of security in the private investigation industry whether you are a business owner or an employee.  You are at the mercy of your clients and you are always being judged on how you perform.

So unless you really don’t like your job as a police officer or you are on your way out anyway I wouldn’t recommend leaving a secure job for this life.  But the choice is always yours and if you decide to make the leap into the industry I will be here to try and help you be successful.

Should you start a private investigation business or work for a private investigation company to learn more about the job?

I have known several investigators that have entered the private investigation industry with no experience other than trial and error, learning from reading sites like this one, and have made a decent living (though it took awhile to get going).

Personally I believe it is better to work for someone and with other people to learn different things that you might not otherwise be exposed to.  I was a sponge when I first entered the industry and had a dozen of investigators to learn from which helped me a great deal.  It made me more knowledgeable and diverse as an investigator.

Where should I locate a Private Investigation Company?

You don’t need to get fancy when deciding where to locate your new private investigation company.  Look no further than your own home.

I am not telling you to have potential clients come to your home.  You can however base you business out of your home and save a great deal of money while you market and build up your business.  There is too much overhead with a brick and mortar location and most of your potential clients are going to call you before ever meeting with you.  Most small investigative companies do not have a physical location for their business.

What type of equipment would I need when starting out as a private investigator?

For this question I will provide two articles that I have already written.  The first article covers the surveillance equipment that I recommend every private investigator has in their vehicle.  It has been shared many times in the past by others and has been republished in Pursuit MagazineThe article is Private Investigator Equipment List. The Top 20 Things you Should have in your Surveillance Vehicle.

The second article I  recommend is Cost of Starting a Private Investigation Business. This is what I paid.

To hear/see the podcast on what I paid you can see it here: PODCAST

If you have a question you want answered be sure to email me at PIADVICEHQ@gmail.com.

Until next time,


Here is a video of the podcast, episode 64


  1. How close are you to an LEO pension?

    • It isn’t me Paul. I was answer a question in the article that sent to me. He has 6 years in and was considering leaving for a private investigation career.

  2. Great article as always Andrew.. I also had to weigh these options at the beginning of my career. I really enjoy my work as a private investigator without having to deal with the bureaucracy of having a public service job.
    Although us private investigators don’t have any type of pension, I feel that this can be overlooked because any successful private investigator could easily make 5x or more what a police officer can make per day. Using smart investing and retirement planning, I do not feel like I made a poor choice in deciding to make a career in the private market.

    The decision to start any PI agency is a hard one to make with may factors. It may be a long road to success, but it can be very rewarding at the end.

    • Thank you for the comment Jonathan. You are right, many people can make much more as a private investigator however they can also make a lot less. A career choice or career change is a very personal decision. Both law enforcement and private investigation have their good points and bad points. It just depends on what you are willing to deal with. And it is different for everybody.

      Take care Jonathan!