The Wasser Agency

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Detective Miami Beach South Beach

How to Be a Detective

The skills of detection are desirable traits for careers at all levels of government service. If you feel you have a natural skill set that includes deductive reasoning, analytic thinking, and enjoy the thrill of the unknown, a career as a detective might be right for you. It's not just something that happens to people on TV.

Professional Detecting

Make sure it's the right job for you. Being a detective with a local, state or federal law enforcement agency is a demanding job, both physically and emotionally, in addition to requiring you to be mentally sharp at all times. You'll probably put in a lot of hours and see disturbing crime scenes. Ask yourself if you're prepared to deal with these elements of the job.

Get a degree.

Detective Miami Beach South Beach

If you want to be a high-ranking detective working on priority cases, you'll likely need a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. Find an accredited university or college (not a website claiming to offer criminal justice degrees) and put your four years in. A college degree will help you earn a higher salary and advance your career.

Learn a second language if you can. Speaking another language, especially in an ethnically diverse area, is a huge benefit as a law enforcement officer. It will help you make yourself useful and attract positive notice from your superiors.

Put in patrol time.

Most law enforcement officers start as patrol officers and move up as positions open. Keep your skills sharp so that you can test well and present a stunning application when a detective gig opens.

Submit a strong application.

When a detective slot opens, focus heavily on your application for the promotion. Highlight all the reasons why you're the best candidate and discuss why your strengths make you a perfect fit for the job. Reread any written submissions several times for proofreading, and have a friend read it for clarity and spelling, if possible. Be prepared to take tests, undergo evaluations and answer probing questions, such as what your weaknesses are.

Display mental toughness throughout the process. Your ability to organize information in a coherent manner while withstanding distressing or drawn-out situations will be vital to becoming a competent detective. Show your superiors that you already possess this aptitude.

Stay balanced.

Police work is currently listed as the third most stressful job in America. Keep an eye on your stress levels, and develop a hobby to help you relax and ultimately be better at your job when you're on the clock.

A detective or private eye is a person who undertakes investigations, usually for a private citizen or some other entity not involved with a government or police organization. They often work for attorneys, civil cases or on behalf of a defense attorney. Many work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious claims. Before the advent of no-fault divorce, many detectives were offered a job to search out evidence of adultery or other illegal conduct within marriage to establish grounds for a divorce. Despite the lack of legal necessity for such evidence in many jurisdictions, according to press reports collecting evidence of adultery or other "bad behavior" by spouses and partners is still one of the most requested activity detectives undertake.

Thanks to books, movies, and TV shows, many people have a clear mental image of the stereotypical detective. His job location comes from a dimly-lit, cluttered, sometimes smoky office in a less-than-affluent part of town. There, he greets a series of walk-in clients, often women, who have been wronged in one way or another.

Usually, his job is either to find proof of wrongdoing or to make the situation right again. To do this, he gets useful information from witnesses and bystanders, sometimes with the help of false pretenses and fake identification. He tails witnesses, takes pictures, searches buildings and keeps an eye out for clues that others may have overlooked. Occasionally, his curiosity gets him into trouble, and he barely escapes being caught somewhere he isn't supposed to be. But eventually, he returns to his distressed client, letting her know that he's solved the case.

Lots of fictional detectives have contributed to this image, including Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe and multiple film noir heroes from the 1940s and 50s. Today's pop-culture investigators, like Adrian Monk and Veronica Mars, are often a little quirkier than their older counterparts. They don't necessarily wear fedoras, have jobs around questionable neighborhoods or even call themselves detectives. However, they still appear as heroes who have a knack for digging up the right information at the right time.

How much of the Detective lore is really true? How many of the events depicted in fiction are really possible or legal? what it takes to become a detective and exactly what the job involves?

The first step to separating fact from fiction is to define precisely what a detective is. Essentially, detectives are people who are paid to gather facts. Unlike police detectives or crime scene investigators, they usually work for private citizens or businesses rather than for the government. Although they sometimes help solve crimes, they are not law-enforcement officials. Their job is to collect information, not to arrest or prosecute criminals.

Detectives have existed for more than 150 years. The first known private detective agency opened in France in 1833. In 1850, Allan Pinkerton formed Pinkerton National Detective Agency, which grew into one of the most famous detective agencies in the United States. The Pinkerton Agency became notorious for breaking strikes, but it also made several contributions to the fields of law enforcement and investigation. The agency takes credit for the concept of the mug shot, and the term "private eye" came from the original Pinkerton logo.

Today, about a quarter of the detectives in the United States are self-employed. Of those who are not, about a quarter find jobs in detective agencies and security services. The rest work for financial institutions, credit collection services, and other businesses. Many detectives choose to focus on a specific field of investigation based on their background and training. For example, someone with a degree in business might become a corporate investigator. A detective with a background in patents and trademarks might focus on intellectual property theft. A certified public accountant (CPA) might specialize in financial investigation.

But regardless of specialization, a Detective's job is to conduct thorough investigations.

The job of a detective often includes:

  • Performing surveillance
  • Preparing reports
  •  Conducting background checks
  • Interviewing people
  • Intelligence gathering
  • Providing security services
  • Assisting in locating missing persons
  • Providing courtroom testimony

Detectives must walk a fine line, and though they are not government agents, the information they gather may be used later for criminal investigations. For this reason, it is important that like police detectives, detectives adhere to established rules of evidence.

Many people who decide to become detectives already have experience in a related field. They may have served in a branch of the military or worked as police officers. Others have experience in crime-scene investigation or surveillance. While this experience can be helpful, it doesn't entirely replace education and training.

In most cases, a person learns to be a detective through an apprenticeship with an experienced investigator or formal instruction. Either on the job or in a classroom, the future detective learns about:

  • Planning and coordinating investigations
  • Investigative and surveillance techniques
  • Laws and ethics pertaining to investigative practice
  • Questioning witnesses
  • Evidence handling procedures

Having a license allows a detective to practice in one particular state, but the nature of investigative work can require investigators to cross state lines. Some states have reciprocity agreements with one another, a license in one state allows a person to practice in the other as well. Detectives practicing in states without such agreements sometimes apply for licensure in nearby states as well. Others develop working relationships with detectives in other states, having jobs as assistants, apprentices or trainees when traveling.

While licenses give people the right to present themselves as detectives, they do not give people the right to break the law in the course of investigations.

Some critics feel that detectives' work is an invasion of people's privacy. A number of laws and constitutional amendments protect people's privacy in many countries throughout the world. However, many of these laws regulate the steps that the government or certain businesses can take. They do not necessarily affect whether a detective is permitted to take surveillance photos or to use pretexts to get information that would otherwise be confidential.

Because of privacy concerns and depictions in popular culture, some people believe that detectives are often on the wrong side of the law. Detectives have also appeared in a negative light in some high-profile cases, such as the Hewlett-Packard corporate spying trial in 2006 and 2007. However, as more states and countries begin to regulate and license detectives, this perception may gradually begin to change.

Private detectives and investigators held about 34,900 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most private detectives and investigators were as follows:

  • Investigation, guard, and armored car services 30%
  • Government   7%
  • Finance and insurance 6%
  • Retail trade    6%
  • Nearly 1 in 4 private detectives and investigators were self-employed in 2014.

Private detectives and investigators work in many environments, depending on the case. Some spend more time in offices, performing computer searches and making phone calls. Others spend more time in the field, conducting interviews or performing surveillance.

Although detectives often work alone, some work with others while conducting surveillance or carrying out large, complicated assignments.

Detective Miami Beach South Beach

Some of the work can involve confrontation, and some situations may call for the investigator to be armed. In most cases, however, a weapon is not necessary because private detectives and investigators’ purpose is to gather information, not to enforce laws or apprehend criminals.

Private detectives and investigators may have to work with demanding, and sometimes distraught, clients.

Detective’s business is one in which he or she is not going to find that many 9-to-5 jobs, though. The workload can be really inconsistent and detectives are often hit with time-sensitive work, so they have to be flexible with their hours and have an understanding family.

Private Detective and Investigator Education

Detective jobs are one of the many great criminal justice and criminology careers that don't require a degree. However, prior experience in a related field may be beneficial and at times required to advance in any detective career.

Education requirements vary greatly with the job, but most jobs require a high school diploma. Some, though, may require a 2- or 4-year degree in a field such as criminal justice or police science.

Corporate investigators typically need a bachelor’s degree. Often, coursework in finance, accounting, and business is preferred. Because many financial investigators have an accounting background, they typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and may be certified public accountants (CPAs).

Computer forensics investigators often need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or criminal justice. Some colleges and universities now offer certificate programs in computer forensics, and others offer a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

Private Detective and Investigator Training

It’s critical to get on-the-job learning by being a practitioner in the business. Most private detectives and investigators learn through on-the-job experience, often lasting several years.

Although new investigators must learn how to gather information, additional training depends on the type of firm that hires them. For instance, at an insurance company, a new investigator will learn on the job how to recognize insurance fraud. Corporate investigators hired by large companies may receive formal training in business practices, management structure, and various finance-related topics.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing, licenses and regulates the private investigative industry in accordance with Chapter 493, Florida Statutes. Detectives and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. The private investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected. This information has been made available to inform Florida citizens about licensing requirements.

A detective is any individual or agency who, for consideration, advertises as providing or performs the following activities. Individuals or agencies providing or advertising as providing these services for consideration must be licensed.

Job Description

Detectives are usually hired to uncover and analyze information about many types of matters, such as business, relationships or finances. Today much of the work is done using computer research, though investigators might still need to perform surveillance on an area or an individual. As a detective, you might specialize in cases pertaining to issues such as worker's compensation claims or intellectual property theft, or you might work in a business investigating suspicious activity. These professionals use equipment like video cameras and global positioning systems to perform their investigations. You might perform face-to-face interviews or go undercover to obtain information.

Employment postings for detectives indicate that you'll likely need your own computer and video camera, and you'll probably need to be willing to travel. As a detective, you should be comfortable working with little supervision and be able to avoid and manage conflict with others. Here are some job postings from March 2012 to show you what employers were looking for:

A surveillance company in Kentucky advertised a job for a full time licensed detective with a clean criminal history and driving record, as well as a laptop and internet access. A criminal justice degree and previous relevant experience are preferred.

A national department store chain in Illinois posted a job for an assets protection investigator to identify fraud and possibly represent the company in court proceedings. The posting specifies that candidates must have a 4-year degree and knowledge of law enforcement and security.

A risk management firm searched for a field investigator to work at a Miami location. The advertisement explains that investigators perform research and interviews to determine the validity of insurance claims. Candidates must be bilingual in English and Spanish, and five years of insurance claims investigation experience is preferred.

An insurance investigation group in Salt Lake City offered a job for a part-time fire investigator to analyze the cause of fires and provide court testimony. Candidates with 5-10 years of experience and certification by the National Association of Fire Investigators are preferred.

An auto insurance company in Orlando - Florida looked for a special investigator to research suspicious customer claims. This job requires two years of either claims experience or investigative experience is required.

As a detective, you'll probably be using specific technologies in your work, such as computer imaging software, query software, and cameras. Potential employers offer jobs for candidates with appropriate surveillance equipment, and you might be able to stand out among applicants if you can show a range of knowledge in computer programs, surveillance gadgets, and other relevant topics. These skills are especially important if you opt for a career in computer forensics investigation, a field that requires an understanding of operating systems, software programs, and other technologies, according to the BLS.

Businesses are only expected to create a handful of new private detective jobs a year. Still, since employment in the industry is so small, the few new jobs means the occupation will grow by 18 percent over the next decade.

Some two-year colleges offer criminal justice training programs, and applicants with a degree often have the edge over those without. Detectives also must be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

Salary Overview

The national average salary of private detectives and investigators was $44,570 in May 2014, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those in the bottom 10% of workers made $27,000 or less, while those in the top 10% made $85,560 or higher. Several factors play a part in how much a detective earns. Some of these factors include your level of experience, your location and the industry in which you work.

A Private Detective or Investigator can expect a compensation somewhere between 32000 to 48000 based on levels of tenure. Private Detectives and Investigators can earn a pay level of Forty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred dollars annually.

For instance, a Private Detectives and Investigators receive the highest pay in Virginia, where they receive average pay levels of close to $68420. People working these jobs have the most lucrative average salary level in Educational Services, where they earn an average pay rate of $73480.

Salary by Experience

According to 2015 data from, private detectives and investigators with 0-5 years of experience earned around $41,000 per year on average. Those with 5-10 years of experience earned higher salaries of around $52,000. With 10-20 years of experience, salaries increased to about $55,000 per year. With over 20 years of experience, expect to earn about $73,000 per year.

Salary by Location

Where a detective works affects how much he or she earns. Someone in the Los Angeles area has a mean wage of $58,190, while someone in Philadelphia, however, has a mean wage of $55,100, according to May 2014 BLS figures. States with the highest mean wages for private detectives and investigators in May 2014 included Nebraska ($66,800), New Jersey ($63,520), Alabama ($59,640), Washington ($59,220), and Hawaii ($58,030).

Salary by Industry

The BLS reported that the investigation and security services industry had the highest employment level of private detectives and investigators in May 2014, and the annual mean wage in this industry was $53,910. The management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry had the second highest employment level and a mean wage of $55,430. Employment levels were much smaller in the local and state governments, with annual mean wages at $53,930 and $46,130, respectively.

Salary by Type of Employment

Whether a detective works independently or finds a job in a private investigation agency has an impact on his or her salary. Many agencies pay detectives an average percentage of billable hours based on the hourly rate charged per client, according to Legal Resources. Detectives typically charge anywhere from $13.85-$54.15 per hour, according to Pay Scale. Self-employed investigators keep 100% of what they charge, though they are responsible for more administrative duties, such as record keeping.

Strong competition for jobs can be expected because private detective and investigator careers attract many qualified people, including relatively young retirees from law enforcement and the military.

The best job opportunities will be for entry-level positions in detective agencies. Candidates with related work experience, as well as those with interviewing and strong computer skills, may find more job opportunities than others.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Private detective
  • Private eye
  • Detective
  • Loss Prevention Officer
  • Loss Prevention Detective
  • Investigator
  • Loss Prevention Agent
  • Loss Prevention Associate
  • Loss Prevention Investigator
  • Asset Protection Investigator
  • Asset Protection Detective
  • Loss Prevention Specialist

Pros of a Career as a Detective

This occupation is expected to experience about average employment growth with a low volume of annual job openings. The need for replacements, rather than from business expansion, is projected to make up the majority of job openings in the coming decade. Strong competition for jobs can be expected because private detective and investigator careers attract many qualified people, including relatively young retirees from law enforcement and the military. Compared to all occupations, wages for this occupation are average.

Average employment growth expected from 2012-2022, at 11% (for private detectives and investigators) Many specializations and types of investigation work (surveillance work, interviews, computer searches).

Variety and independence in work tasks (Can work alone, as part of a team or undercover)

No specific education required to enter profession (Can learn investigative skills on the job)

Salary is higher than the average for all occupations (Around $53,000 average salary for private detectives and investigators).

Cons of a Career as a Detective

  • Strong competition for available jobs, with many qualified candidates
  • Need to be licensed (Some states require investigators to have 2-3 years of experience)
  • Irregular work hours (nights and weekends are common)
  • Confrontations can be stressful and possibly dangerous
  • Surveillance and research can be time-consuming

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time: Almost all jobs in the criminal investigation field are full-time positions requiring significant overtime availability. Because these jobs are regarded as necessary for public safety, minimal flexibility is available for work schedules and shift scheduling is typically enforced at all levels of the occupation. Newcomers to the field or the working environment may be assigned less desirable shifts and duties as preference is most often given to detectives and detectives with seniority in the workplace environment.

The Wasser Agency put at your service professional detectives who will give you advice or conduct any necessary investigation. We are located in Miami Beach – South Beach. Florida.