So What Do Investigators Do?

what do private investigators do

So What Do Private Investigators Do?

[Updated 16th March, 2023]

When someone asks ‘what does a private investigator do?’, what do you picture? You might have a mental vision of a middle-aged man, in a trench coat and a fedora. Sleuthing his way through a parking garage, taking pictures with an old timey camera.  

When it comes to this profession, film and television have a lot to answer for. The average person’s understanding of PIs is largely drawn from popular culture representation. Books, movies and TV shows where the complex but likeable ex-cop lives a gritty, barely above the law lifestyle as a private eye.  

Popular characters like Sherlock Holmes, Remington Steele and Magnum PI have shaped the public perception of this often misunderstood profession.  

This is less than accurate. You’d be far more likely to discover a private investigator interviewing someone in their office or filing paperwork, than you are sleuthing through an underground car park in a trench coat.  

What do private investigators actually do? 

Private investigators are hired for all kinds of contracts. They might be contracted to investigate suspected fraud cases by Centrelink departments, or to investigate reported incidents of animal cruelty by the RSPCA. They could be contracted to corporate clients to vet new hires or board members.  

At the end of the day the investigation process involves searching for facts that seek to prove or disprove an assertion. It is about a search for facts that lead to the truth of a situation. 

Private investigators will set out to establish the following facts:

  • What occurred 
  • When it occurred 
  • Why it occurred 
  • Where it occurred 
  • How it occurred 
  • Who or what was responsible 

Remember, there are always at least 3 truths! The “truth” of two opposing parties…. and the “real truth”. 

Investigators need to explore potential sources of information, seek, and gather the relevant information and analyse and present it in an evidentially factual manner.  

How do Private investigators become qualified?  

As a Private Investigator in Queensland, it is most likely that you will carry out sub-contracting work for one or many organisations. Private Investigators are required to have a unique set of skills that we will be able to assist you in acquiring before you begin your first big investigative job. 

The course you’ll need to complete in order to apply for your licence is the Certificate III in Investigative Services. This course can be completed entirely online, you can start anytime and fit your studies in around your own schedule.  

In the course you’ll learn how to:

  • Work effectively in investigative services 
  • Develop investigation plans 
  • Investigate and locate subjects 
  • Provide quality investigative services to clients 
  • Prepare and present evidence in court 
  • Address compliance requirements for new business ventures 
  • Conduct factual investigations 
  • Conduct interviews and take statements to support investigations 
  • Develop factual investigation reports 
  • Maintain work health and safety 
  • Compile and use official notes 
  • Produce formal record of interview 
  • Handle sensitive information 
  • Conduct covert surveillance operations 
  • Organise and operate surveillance vehicles 
  • Develop surveillance investigation reports 

What kind of skills do you need to be a private investigator?

There are plenty of skills that you’ll pick up from your course but there are certain people who have an advantage in this area. Ex-police officers and investigative journalists make excellent private investigators.  

But for those without that employment history, the following skills will help you excel in the world of private investigations.  

  • Driving skills 

So you can conceal your identity, but still have eye on the target at all times. 

  • Public speaking 

At some point, it is likely you will be asked to stand up and give evidence in court.

  • Video and Audio 

Ensuring your target is either clearly able to be identified or heard in video and sound. 

  • Writing skills 

Private Investigators need to know how to write reports, prepare documents for court and take notes during interviews. 

There is so much more to becoming a successful PI and with the help of our Certificate III in Investigative Services, you could be on your way to a career that’s just a little out of the ordinary! 

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