How to Gain Employment as a Private Investigator

One of the biggest questions we get being Ontario’s largest training provider is “how do I apply for a job once I complete my private investigator training course?” When you are joining a new industry, it’s best to focus on the sector itself and consider what you would like to become in that industry. Do your research before contacting companies. Do you want to be an undercover investigator? Maybe you want to be an insurance fraud investigator, or a corporate fraud investigator. Maybe research is what you excel at, and skip tracing and background checks are what you would like to focus on. If you like working with groups of people, then labour disputes would be a good route for you. Or you want to assist in more personal investigations like child Custody investigations, or infidelity investigations. Take some time to think of your strengths and interests, and choose an area where you can put your skill sets to work. Once you figure what you want to do, search companies that offer those services, then apply only to those to start. 


Always stick to the point!
If you are applying for a job as a private eye, you want to stick to what the job is offering or posting you’ve seen has listed. If it says “Experienced Private Investigators Only,” that’s not that job to apply to if you do not have experience. You can wait until that company has a listing available for newer investigators or you can email them separately and send your resume and ask for part-time work or be trained by an experienced private investigator. 


What are you applying for?
Is the job for a security guard or private investigator? Is it for labour disputes or surveillance for fraud? Every job in the industry will hold different requirements. So be sure to watch for the ones you can apply for labour disputes, employee dismissals, and a few others projects like those do not require experience. Those types of jobs are how you gain entry into the industry. Only apply for what you have experience in or if the job allows for inexperienced people to apply. If not, wait until the company is hiring for what you can do or keep searching. 


Are you qualified?
We often place advertisements for hiring, and in our ads, we are very specific to what we are looking for. When I hire surveillance investigators, I only search for experienced investigators. One of the more frustrating situations is when you place hiring ads, and you receive hundreds of resumes from security guards claiming their security floor-walking job is considered surveillance. This process wastes a significant amount of our time while handling them and in turn, your resume will be sent to the trash immediately. There is nothing wrong with stating you have no experience in something, just don’t apply if you don’t possess what they are looking for. 


How do I list previous experience?
Most experiences from various careers are not transferable to the private detective industry, so if you do not have the experiences don’t be scared to say that. When resumes come in and are filled with irrelevant content, they are dismissed quickly. Do your best to remain professional at all times in your resume, email and phone conversations etc.

Follow these tips, and in due time you will be able to gain employment as a private investigator. Be patient, an opportunity will come to get your foot in the door and that’s how we all started.

About the Author
Whitney Joy Smith is the president of The Smith Investigation Agency she has been in the Investigative industry for over a decade. Whitney noticed not only a lack of female private investigators within the sector but also a lack of companies offering quality investigative work. It became Whitney’s goal and passion for producing the best results for all investigations she completed. Whitney has completed over 1500 files and nearly 2000 research assignments. She still has a growing passion for the industry and she likes to work with governing bodies to regulate rules and laws within the industry. She wants to see positive changes moving forward, so the newest generation of private investigators have all the tools necessary as well as businesses.


  1. Workers Comp Investigations Charlotte NC on May 28, 2017 at 07:38

    really nice information on how to get a job…

  2. Andrew on August 12, 2017 at 17:15

    You said "……receive hundreds of resumes from security guards claiming their security floor-walking job is considered surveillance." First off, this statement is very misleading! I’ve been in the industry for almost 2 decades, working for an award winning company who produce the highest standards in investigative/surveillance work. Many years ago, I started out as a "floor-walker" aka, theft prevention, and undoubtedly is the best place to obtain foot surveillance experience! PERIOD.
    Many "floor-walkers" are ineffective, why? because they are unable to covertly suveil a target without being detected. An effective and efficient "floor-walker" can foot surveil a target for long periods of time without being detected (burned).
    Many private investigators lack foot surveillance experience, especially when starting out, as a result they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t know how to adapt to an ever-changing environment, etc.. which results in less video evidence, and/or more burns!

    Gaining a good amount of floor-walking (theft prevention) experience, is not only a huge asset, but is part of the very foundation of good covert foot surveillance practice! If you are a new private investigator, you will never obtain foot surveillance experience needed by taking a 4 day crash course. As a seasoned surveillance operator myself, I would highly recommend getting some floor walking experience, learn how to covertly follow a target undetected, then you will be much better off in obtaining the real world experience needed in becoming a (fraud) private investigator.

  3. on February 11, 2020 at 02:14

    Thank you for this comment.
    I am a newbie in security and have started an investigation business in surveillance. Hoping to eventually do infidelity, skip tracing and missing persons. The ad very much discouraged me as I am not a “floor walker” as my skills lay within the “Static Guard and watchmen” . If we are not going to ever get a break in this career, then why does it have an association not alone a increase in private investigation in my area…. which is Ontario.

    The issue I am having is the laws for everything related and unrelated to my so called field. I’m not even sure if anything is going to be illegal or legal anymore and am constantly second guessing myself on everything. Are we just suppose to do our due diligence and hope for the best?

    I also noticed no one has replied to this for 3 years. Haven’t quite figured out what this association does for us as a P.I. and after looking at the information provided to us, which by the way, has lots of pathways that do not work. Again second guessing myself.
    Love to hear your comments on our field and willing to learn more about this hopefully lasting career.

    • admin on February 11, 2020 at 09:31

      Thank you for comment.

      Your frustration is understandable. Please note that this post is from 4 years ago and rules, laws and regulations are not static and are constantly changing. Since you’re from Ontario it’s best to contact The Council of Professional Investigators of Ontario (CPIO) and the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General which handles private investigators permits. They will have the most up-to-date changes in the law for your province. Investigators never stop learning and are always keeping up with constant changes. The ability to adapt is a skill all investigators require! The fact that you have these questions is a good sign that you want to do things right. Let us know if you have any other questions. You can also give us a call at 514-800-5161. Keep it up, you’re doing great!

      • on February 11, 2020 at 17:10

        thank you for the information and the encouragement. Much appreciated.

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