How much money does a private investigator make?
I get this question a lot and the answer is, “It depends”.
The trick to making decent money is to advance.
If you work for a retail company in loss prevention (or any investigative position in any company), from your very first day on the job you should be looking to get promotions within the company. Start as a loss prevention officer, then move to supervisor, assistant district manager then district manager. (At the same time contributing to whatever retirement account the company / you have set up!)
Here’s the thing NOBODY teaches the new people coming into this line of work. The only really good paying jobs are at the district level in retail LP. But… your job there becomes something more like “Operations Manager”.
You will be doing very little investigations and LP and much, MUCH more safety, capital improvements, maintenance, government compliance type things with a whole lot of management of employees mixed in. None of that’s necessary bad, but it ain’t investigative work.
But here’s the thing, as one gets older (and maybe a little burned out on investigative work), it’s kinda’ nice to have a more “normal” job like that. Daytime hours. Weekends off. Etc.
BOTTOM LINE: There can be a “comfortable” $40k per year in P.I. work, but it’s rough and you can easily tire of it by the ten year mark when you’ve pretty much seen it all and find most of it to be the EXACT same cases over and over again. If you must do this work because it’s in your blood (like it was for me), then be sure to be planning and moving toward the next thing from the beginning.
For me that’s teaching and creating products. Honestly, if I had known about this years ago, I might have just worked as an investigator for a company for a while and not spent so much time, energy and money growing my own agency.
A final thought, related to what I’ve mentioned above… consider working in ANY company that has an investigative job (rather than just getting your private investigator’s license and opening your own detective agency). For example every bank has a fraud department (although they may call it something else). Also city and state governments have plenty of investigative jobs (EG. Worker’s comp, environmental compliance, etc.)
Look for these well paying jobs with keywords like “compliance” or maybe “auditor”. If you end up loving it, those jobs may very well be your ticket to a P.I. license!
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.
P.S. – Don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it on the home page of my blog.