Private investigator

private eye P.I.

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would carry out secret enquiries for your clients to find out information and check facts.

Your clients might include very different types of people and companies. As well as individuals, you could investigate cases for law firms, councils and insurance companies. So your work could range from personal issues, such as divorce, to company issues, such as suspected theft.

You would have to do background research, which may involve asking questions and understanding complicated information.

You might:

  • Watch people’s movements
  • Investigate fraud
  • Look for missing people or pets
  • Hand legal documents to people
  • Investigate commercial piracy (such as copying software illegally)
  • Run background checks on employees

You would need to have excellent observation skills and solid knowledge of the law.

You would probably work alone and be self-employed.

Working conditions

Hours

Your hours of work would be irregular, and could include nights and weekends.

Environment

You would work in an office, but you would also spend a lot of time out and about gathering information.

Travel

You may have to spend time away from home when investigating a case.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Being tactful
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Working on your own
  • Using computers
  • Being logical
  • Researching and investigating
  • Planning and organising
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

A good general education is useful. Some entrants have Highers, a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or a degree.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Modern studies

You will also need

Regulations are being brought in which will require that you have completed recognised training and are licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) before you can operate as an investigator.

You must have a driving licence.  

You must be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland to show you are suitable for this type of work. 

Helpful to have

It helps to have a basic knowledge of law, for example on trespass, assault and data protection.