A California private investigator is paid to gather facts pertaining to a particular case. Unlike a law enforcement official or a crime-scene operative, a private investigator is hired by a private citizen or business organization. He uses various methods to carry out his task. Moreover, he can also choose a field of specialty to focus on. Due to the nature of his work, a private investigator may work irregular hours everyday when conducting surveillance works and looking for witnesses to question.

There are requirements before a California private investigator is given a license to practice within the state. These requirements may vary from state to state or from one territory to another but generally, all convicted felons are automatically disqualified from receiving a private investigator license. Moreover, private investigators must be at least 18 years of age at the time of license application. A combination of education in police science, criminal law, or criminal justice and three years or 6,000 hours of investigative experience is also required. A licensed California private investigator should also be able to pass the evaluation given by the Federal Department of Justice and the criminal history background check. In addition, a license applicant must also be able to achieve at least a qualifying score in a two-hour written examination on laws and regulations. For private investigators who need to carry firearms while on duty, additional requirements may be asked from them.

There are no specific academic requirements in order to become a California private investigator. However, a 2-year associate program or a 4-year bachelor program in any criminal-justice area will be beneficial to any aspiring private investigator. Moreover, this is also a requirement that most large companies require from the investigators that they hire. A licensed California private investigator is legally allowed to conduct surveillance operations, obtain information related to a crime or case that he may be handling, secure evidence that is admissible in court, locate and recover lost or stolen property, and determine the cause and responsibility in cases of fire, libel, loss, damage and injury.

A California private investigator may focus on a specific niche based on his past working experience or on his expertise. He may opt to become a legal investigator who works for a law firm and defense lawyers. He helps the latter prepare for upcoming court trials, locate vital witnesses, interview police authorities and potential witnesses as well as gather evidences that can be used in court. He may also choose to become a corporate investigator who is tasked by business organizations to conduct internal and external investigations. Another market niche that a California private investigator may choose to focus on is the field of financial investigation. A financial investigator is hired to develop and evaluate the financial profiles of individuals and companies that are prospective parties to million dollar deals and transactions. Other investigators also choose to become store investigators or loss prevention agents. They may sure that theft by shoplifters, vendor representatives, and store employees are prevented. Hotel detectives, on the other hand, make sure that the properties of hotel guests are protected from theft. They also see to it that there is order inside the hotel premises.

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