Private Investigations and Personal Security/Type of Investigations To Pursue


Hello again Sean,

I would like to become a private investigator specializing in personal/business background checks, pre marital/relationship screens, missing persons, re-uniting birth parents & children, skip tracing, product liability, employee character screening, corporate espionage, and company vs.competitor investigations.

My question is, can one eventually make a decent living,(I guess to me that would mean, at the least, making a living from one occupation), performing the above investigations as opposed to going the surveillance type invesrigations route?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd enjoy being more of a researcher/information gathering type investigator as opposed to investigators involved with odd hours filming and photographing domestic and criminal/drug/sting operation type issues.

I've spoken with a few P.I.s around my locale, but it seems that they are enjoying or performing more surveillance/infidelity types of activities.

Is this because these investigators might consider surveillance/filming/photographing more profitable or might surveillance activities be somewhat easier than the data-base accessing and researching segment of private investigations?

I would very much appreciate a response from an experienced professional.

Thank you greatly.


Mike E.


First, you are wise to seek information-based investigations as your work area if you like normal hours.  Surveillance-type infidelity cases can be very profitable but they also tend to be very problematic.  The clients tend to resist paying to complete the investigation after only one incriminating short video clip or a couple of suspect photos.  Then you have to chase them for your money.  Also, there's a lot of misdirection used by scorned spouses which make these cases very awkward in court later.

The PIs I know that do well hook themselves up with insurance companies and do injury-related insurance fraud cases (for example, a guy collecting benefits and out of work because of a back injury is seen chopping wood).  You can definitely make a decent living from being a PI you just have to be selective about the type and manner of work you take.

I'm not exactly sure of the rates collected regarding different types of PI work so I can't tell you which is more lucrative.  Don't be afraid to partner up with other PIs whom can refer work to you if they're overworked.  

Good luck,

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Sean Carroll


I can answer just about any question which relates to police work, personal security, home & business security, or general law.


I am a 9 year veteran of a major metropolitan police department as a Major Crimes Detective. I have prior experience in the private security sector as well. I also previously owned a security solutions business where we specialized in digital security and surveillance systems including residential and commercial alarms.

I have both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Criminal Justice.

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