Are You Too Old to Become a Private Investigator? Maybe and Maybe Not #188

Are you too old to become a private investigator?  Before you get upset, only know that I wanted to discuss this topic for a specific reason.  I can assure you it has nothing to do with ageism.  In fact, I can tell you I feel uncomfortable writing about this topic because I have strong feelings about it which I will discuss later.

The whole reason I bring up the topic of whether you are too old to become a private investigator is because I frequently receive emails that start with, “Hey Andrew, I am 60 years I just retired from my job as a (Fill in the blank) and I have decided to pursue my dream of being a private investigator.  

Or, “Hey Andrew, I am a young 55-year-old man who has always wanted to be a private investigator and I have decided this year to pursue that dream.”

Truthfully no one directly asks me if they are too old to become a private investigator.  But I think there is a hint of concern when they make it a point to let me know how old they are.  Almost as if there is a chance that I might respond to them in some way letting them know this career is not a good choice for them at this point in their lives.

And though I started writing on this topic a couple months ago I received another email today that stated, “…So, since I will be new to the private investigations, as far as future employers go, is my age a concern, just a misguided fear or is it something I need to take under consideration before I walk down this path?”

This was the direct question I was looking for and that is why I am finishing this article.

I responded by only letting the emailer know that I would finish my article on this topic to give him his answer.

Are you too old to become a private investigator?  Let’s discuss reasons you may be too old.



Reasons You May Be Too Old To Become a Private Investigator

Lack of Physical Stamina

Generally speaking, as we get older we slow down, take more naps and long days can take more of a toll on our well being.  

Depending on the assignment a private investigator may have there may be some very long work days.  And if long work days are not something you can physically work through, you may be too old to become a private investigator (at least for some assignments).

You Can’t Sit for Long Periods of Time

Private investigators find themselves sitting…a lot.  If you conduct surveillance you are sitting quite a bit with no opportunities to stand and stretch (in most cases).

If you interview people you will be sitting for extended periods of time.  Many of my recorded statements would last no less than 1 hour depending on the amount of information that was being obtained.

Regardless of the field work that is done, you will still find yourself needing to write reports and in most cases that requires sitting.  I know the standing desk has been invented and I hope to get one for myself but most people don’t have one.

Sitting for extended periods of time can take a toll on anyone, not just the older generation. I know many older private investigators that just stopped doing surveillance altogether because of the sedentary nature of the work.  

But all of those concerns could apply to anyone regardless of their age.  That is not the biggest concern.  The biggest concern is this next one.

Too Old to Become a Private Investigator

Trainability and Knowledge of Technology

I believe I was at the right age during the internet boom.  My brother who is 4 years younger than I was even at a better age.  When the internet and AOL appeared I didn’t know what to make of it. I didn’t see the real value of the internet immediately.  And at that time the internet hadn’t even begun to reach its full potential.  

I eventually became semi-serious in my efforts to learn about technology related things like computers and the internet but there was still a learning curve.  I purchased my first computer about 19 years ago so that helped me with learning about computers.

I have noticed that the older generation at that time were late adopters when it came to learning about the internet and technology. At that time it wasn’t something they needed or were interested in immediately.  Many businesses didn’t require computer skills for the current jobs at that time so there was no real rush to learn about it.

As we fast forward now the older generation is playing a bit of catch up. In many cases, if they choose to catch up and learn about technology there can be a steep learning curve.  

Robert Chen of Embrace Possibility believes older individuals make a conscious choice to stop learning.  He states that after college people settle into their occupation and have a certain level of expertise they no longer need to learn new things to survive.  Some people make a conscious choice to stop learning and over time Mr. Chen insinuates it more difficult to learn when you don’t actively learn.

Here is a quote from Mr. Chen:

“After we gain a certain level of expertise in our current job, we reach a critical point. Up until this point, learning has been somewhat mandatory but it is at this point where learning becomes optional. We no longer need to learn new things to survive. We can just occasionally update our knowledge and still be ok. This is the point where some choose to continue learning new things while others choose to stop learning.

Unfortunately, many people choose the latter. It could be because they are tired of learning and “just want to relax” or perhaps they feel that they’ve “graduated” and learned all they needed to know. Some even use the excuse that they can’t learn anymore because they are old. Once they make this choice, a habit forms and that person’s ability to learn, like any unused muscle, weakens.”

Some of this is supported by a study in the journal Computers in Human Behavior where 899 participants ages 19 to 99 participated in the study related tablet use.  One of the things the study revealed essentially is that the older the participant was, the less likely they were to adopt new technology.  The reasons for this ranged from doubting the benefits of it to a lack of comfort. A summary of the study from Newswise.com indicated that 6 percent of the sample reporting did not understand what a tablet was even after being provided nearly a full page explanation and photos.

I would say that regardless of your age if you are trainable and willing and eager to learn, the concerns in this portion of the article shouldn’t be a concern for you.  

 

Are Employers Going to Pass on You Because of Your Age?

Now there are many investigators that are in their 50’s, 60’s and I am sure 70’s that started their careers 20, 30 or 40 years ago and they have adapted and changed with the times and are a wealth of knowledge.  They are not starting from scratch.  They have been in this industry for some time.  I think the point I would make is that they are older and still make a living as private investigators.

Not everyone starts this career in their twenties and thirties.  I know this first hand.

In the past, I have had the opportunity to train two individuals that were in their late 50’s and early 60’s.  

The individual that was 50 years of age had a Koi fish selling business and was a former police officer.  He was completely trainable and eager to learn.  He turned out to be a decent surveillance investigator and went on to work for another company doing surveillance and even death investigations.  

The individual that was 60 years old was a retired judge and lawyer though he remained licensed as a lawyer in a couple of states.  He ended up starting his own business and the last time I spoke with him he was doing subcontracting surveillance work in his area.  

Both investigators started their private investigator careers later in life. And both did very well in the industry.



What is the Fear?

Personally, I have never observed a company pass on a potential investigator based on their age.  Nor is it legal to do so according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  According to the EEOC,” The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40, although some states have laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination. It is not illegal for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older.

So I would say your age is nothing to be worried about.  

I think the core concern for an investigative company that is willing to train or hire an inexperienced employee, at any age, is whether they are willing to work hard, be flexible and be trainable.  

Your an Asset

There is a certain amount of life experience that is valuable in any industry.  A level of maturity that comes along with age (in most cases).  This can be especially true with individuals who have been employed for 20 to 30 years and know how to communicate effectively.  

A lot of common sense and maturity is developed over time with individuals who have been in the workforce for over 20 to 30 years.  

It reminds me of when I started college late in my early 30’s  and the classes taught things I had already learned in my 30 years of life.  What I was being taught was common sense at that point.   I also realized that those classes were a complete waste of money because life in the workforce had already taught me the fundamentals they were attempting to teach me.

So I would just look at your career and ask yourself what you learned in the various jobs you have worked over the years.  What have you learned from the varying levels of responsibility with those companies?  I think that you will find you have a lot to offer.

Final Thoughts on Whether You Are Too Old to Become a Private Investigator

For some reason, this was an awkward topic for me to write about even though I don’t believe age is really a factor when it comes to working as a private investigator.  I can only see age as an asset if someone is trainable because that is usually what determines whether someone will have a good career in this industry or not regardless of their age.

Be a student at any age.  

Albert Einstein said this and it completely applies to anyone especially me:

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

Until next time,

Andrew



4 comments

  1. Thank you for your insight.
    I became licensed at age 59 after retirement as a parole agent which included much report writing and interviewing.
    Curently I have no physical impediments hindering me from PI work.
    The computer (technology) learning curve I would have to say is the most challenging. But I have come a long way in this regards but have still more to learn.
    I truly appreciate you sharing your knowledge with all of us.

    • Thanks David and thank you for sharing that you started this career after a previous career. I think this will reinforce that it isn’t too late to start a career as a private investigator. Congrats on your retirement and new career path! I do share tech tips for private investigators from time to time. Hopefully, they are helpful to you if you come across them.

      Thanks again

      Andrew

  2. Andrew,
    I just turned 59 and started this career about 7 years ago after 5 years as a police officer and years of self-employment in other fields. I work for a large, well-known firm now doing surveillance, SIU, and have been certified as a trainer. The biggest issue I see for people my age is definitely the technology. In general, if they’ve been hired, they can conduct a surveillance and write a report. Uploading that report, or video, or recorded statement, has caused more people to leave than anything else I’ve seen.

    • Hi Tony,

      I really appreciate you adding your insight and I totally agree with you. It’s technology side of investigations that can feel completely overwhelming at times. And as a trainer, it can take an incredible amount of patience teaching someone how to do those things to help them be successful in this industry. And those individuals have to be willing to learn as well. Thank you again, Tony. And I wish you continued success in your career. And by the way, I use to work for that big well-known company. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *