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What Is a Private Investigator Assistant?

by Shala Munroe, studioD

Private investigators help a variety of groups find information, including individuals, lawyers and insurance companies. Many investigators start out as investigative assistants to learn the trade. Although some investigative companies might require a certain level of college education or law enforcement experience, most training tends to be on the job.

What They Are

Private investigator assistants are basically people learning to be private investigators. People seeking to be private investigators often spend time assisting to receive training and guidance on the profession's requirements. In some states, this type of apprenticeship is required before you can step out on your own as a professional private investigator.

What They Are Not

Although private investigator assistants sometimes help in criminal cases such as insurance fraud, they aren't sworn law enforcement officers. They don't have the authority to arrest people or act on search warrants, for example. Private investigator assistants must obey all laws while researching someone's background or following them during surveillance.

What They Do

PI assistants help the private investigators with research such as pulling driving records, court records and criminal histories. They also conduct interviews over the phone or in person, keeping meticulous records of the conversations. An assistant might help the PI during surveillance, taking notes and photos as necessary. The assistant often files the information gathered and helps assimilate pertinent facts to present to clients or court.

What They Need

State regulations for private investigators and their assistants vary, but some require PIs to serve as assistants for a certain length of time. In Maine, assistants must serve as such for two years. An assistant needs a PI who will sponsor him – or train him – during those years. The state government might require you to take a certification exam to become a PI assistant and another to earn your private investigator license when your assistant term is complete. States often have minimum education requirements, such as completing high school, but private investigator firms might require more, such as an associate or bachelor's degree.

About the Author

Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.

Photo Credits

  • Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images