What does fictional characters Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, Travis McGee, Sam Spade and Veronica Mars have in common? They all worked as private investigators. These are people paid by private citizens and business organizations to gather facts about something that concern them. A private investigator is not a law enforcement officer thus, he does not have the power to arrest and prosecute people who committed crimes and other law violations. Private investigators employ different strategies in collecting facts pertaining to a case that they are trying to solve. Most often they work in conjunction with lawyers in civil cases and in behalf of defense lawyers. They may also work for insurance companies to investigate insurance claims that are considered suspicious. They are also often hired to look for evidence of infidelity or any other activities that may be a ground for divorce.

Like many other professions, a private investigator can also choose a field of specialty. He can choose to be a legal investigator who specializes in court cases. Law firms usually hire a private investigator that can help them prepare their defenses in criminal cases, look for witnesses, serve or deliver legal documents, and review case evidences. Gathering information about litigation parties, taking photographs and testifying in courts are also included in the duties of a legal investigator. A private investigator may also choose to be a corporate investigator. This person is tasked to conduct internal and external investigations for corporations and business organizations. Internal investigations are those that investigate activities done within the organization and involving personalities within the group. External investigations, on the other hand, are those that involve inquiries about outsider activities and people not working within the corporation or business organization. Another specialty that a private investigator can choose is financial investigation. A financial investigator is hired to find out and evaluate the financial profile of individuals or companies that are about to go into financial transactions involving huge amounts of money. There are other specialties for private investigators to choose from depending on their experience and expertise.

There are no required formal educational requirements for individuals who want to become private investigators. However, it is important to note that various states in the United States require private investigators to have licenses. Moreover, all states except Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Mississipi, Missouri and South Dakota, have set requirements before an individual could be granted a license. Several of these states also mandate license applicants to attend compulsory training programs.

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