A man who is gainfully employed as a private investigator in Canada did an “Ask Me Anything” (“AMA”) on the popular social news site Reddit. It was fun to read and gives you a good idea of what it’s like to work as a private investigator. Also, he has some tips on what it takes to become a private investigator. I’ve included below some of the questions and answers, and you can view the entire thread here.
The community questions are in bold italics with his answers following.
How does one come to be a PI?
Well, it can go a few different ways. Keep in mind, this is how it works in Canada:
For one, you can look for work at an Agency – most cities have at least a couple of dedicated PI agencies, or at least private security businesses. You might be able to start a job as an intern or something, and work your way to getting trained. Kinda depends on who you know, sometimes.
Another way is to have relevant experience. You work investigations for a few years as private security or a cop, you can apply for your individual license and take contracts on your own. Or, stick with the company license you get through an agency. Me, I started at an agency, been there ever since.
Have you worn costumes at times? You know, like wigs, glasses, mustaches, different sets of clothes, etc.?
Not wigs, but yes to everything else. I find hats work better than wigs, and look less fake.
Sorry for my English … it’s not my first language. is there a situation that require you to be physical? you know.. getting in action… chasing someone not to lose at your sight.. getting ready to fight..
Sure. Some times, you ask a few questions to Mr. Y about Mr. X, as they go to the same bar all the time. Turns out, Mr. Y is a friend of Mr. X, and he spreads it around you’ve been asking questions. Maybe someone takes offence to that.
I myself practice some martial arts that focus on self-defense and submission holds, but I’m not above a shot to the groin or a blow to the knee with something heavy. Fight to win, because with strangers, it could be your life.
How much of your job revolves around Googling stuff because your clients are computer illiterate? Or doesn’t?
Google is just as useful as you think it is. When I get asked to dig up info on someone with a unique-sounding name, I always smile because I know Google’s probably going to help me out on this one. Get that info, take some pics, and you have a basic informational package.
Happens less and less, as most people are figuring out Google.
I wanted to be a PI when I got out of college, but was constantly rebuffed by male employers who said, “women typically don’t make good PI’s because they have to leave their car to pee. Have you met any lady PI’s while working through the years? I should add: I totally can pee in a bottle!
I’ve known women working at the Agency – tough gals, every one of them. One of them’s a cop now. It takes tough women, because the business is kind of a boys’ club, like any branch of law enforcement (which technically private investigations fall under).
Unfortunately, as many firms are small, they can skirt around a lot of regulations and sort of engage in prejudicial hiring practices.
For my money, you should just offer to pee in a bottle while sitting to prove you can do it. Failing that, if you REALLY want to be a PI, you’ll either have to find someone willing to apprentice you or spend a few years as a cop, then get your individual license.
Did you have any experience before you got the job? What made them hire you?
No experience. I was mature for my age, I have great interview skills, I was driven, and I was lucky. They needed some bashers. I started doing plainclothes security work, then proved I had aptitude beyond being a big guy.
Click here to read the full interview.