Private Investigations and Personal Security/bill rate

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Question
HI, I just received my license in Anchorage and I also have a Qualified Manager license in California that I never followup on, meaning I never opened up shop, now I have both licenses, I also have BS degree in Crim, and was a Military Police in the army on a drug suppression team, bike patrol, physical security as well as road patrolman. I have earned a masters degree in Information Security and Assurance and currently serve as a Information Assurance Analyst with 9 Information Technology certifications, many of which are security related and highly desirable in IT security. I want to specialize in criminal defense and digital forensics, which I have much knowledge of. I know alot about constitutional law, criminal procedure etc. I have worked for a PI in California for a short period, we worked with the Secret Service and the Oakland Police department for the Record Industry AntiPiracy Association for counterfeit merchandise. In school I received an unsolicited recommendation from a judge, I suspect from my performance in school in a constitutional law course. Now, I want to start a PI business, with my credentials, experience, and specialization what can I expect to ask for per hour, I currently live in Anchorage, Ak, which is a high cost of living state. Also, in my pursuit of tying to open a business I went for a free consultation and the owner advised me that I might want to specialize in digital forensics for the defense. At that point I never mentioned I wanted to be a private investigator but he and his office manager alluded in several ways that this is some thing I might want to explore. What should I ask for per hour and is it too much to ask for a nonrefunable retainer. I saw some Florida investigator mention this, I believe his name is Brandon Perron, I saw a tape of his. Any info would be great since I know little about the business part of this. Also, Digital forensics guys charge at least 200 hr.

Answer
"Tad,"

What you charge per hour should be commensurate with your skills, education, knowledge, etc. and is in keeping with the going rate in your area.  Remember that you are new and have to establish yourself.  You will have to set a fee and then adjust it as too high or low as the circumstances dictate.  Check and see what your local investigations offices charge.  Then adjust accordingly.  Remember as a parting word of advice, never believe your own hype.  Ask yourself what you can deliver to a client.  That will set the baseline.  Second, you should ask for a retainer.  You have to decide what should be non-refundable.  You should only make a certain amount non-refundable for the time and expenses you expend setting up the initial account, perhaps $100-$200.  Have it delineated in your contract.  Best of luck!

Jeff  

Private Investigations and Personal Security

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Jeffrey Hauck

Expertise

I would welcome the opportunity to answer questions about the business operations, duties, and ethics of the modern professional private detective/private investigator.

Experience

Criminologist. Professor of Criminal Justice. Licensed Private Detective with expansive clientele base encompassing hundreds of cases. Donates resources and time to the Children's Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.

Education/Credentials
Associate of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Master of Science, Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

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