Updated: Sep 6, 2019
A skill of many skills.
Surveillance is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a close watch kept over someone or something". Wikipedia defines it as "the monitoring of behavior, activities, or information for the purpose of influencing, managing or directing". Surveillance may come in many forms and I will highlight a few in this brief article. Many people may think of a stationary camera set up in an empty apartment when thinking of surveillance, while others may think of the "eye in the sky" outside of buildings. While there are cameras everywhere you look, There are also many cameras are being monitored and even controlled by investigators looking to catch wrongdoing. Not many people think of the investigator that is laying low in a parked vehicle, engine off and windows up during mid summer. Not many would suspect a human in the elements of a 120 degree, airless vehicle. Surveillance is the act of documenting activity, and integrity plays a vital role in the success of an investigation.
At a Glance
The United States Department of Labor will tell you there is approximately 31,000 Private investigators employed throughout the country. That averages 620 per state. That number is not a very high one in comparison to other professions, which is part of the reason it is a unique field. A unique field that is growing rapidly.
So who is being investigated? The answer is everyone. If you walk into a clothing store, for example, a loss prevention associate is monitoring your activity. If you claim disability, your social media may be monitored at the least. If you are recently divorced and claim a high amount of alimony, chances are you someone is in your shadows. There are many medical lawsuits, and in many cases insurance companies will hire an investigator to view the status of the Plaintiff. Got in a car accident?... Well guess what? This article is not to cause alarm, it is simply to discuss the ins and outs of investigation.
Every investigator has a niche or perhaps multiple. The practice of surveillance and investigation is not black and white, but the more research and development within the field, certain practices and techniques become optimal. Statistics are a major advantage for creating awareness, opportunity and decision making, and investigation work heavily relies on the decision of the investor. There are many strategies that can be implemented in investigation, but preference sometimes comes down to client wants and needs.
Some other types of investigation
Corporate America is a very large industry of industries, and investigators are surely a major asset for any large company. The main driver in a capitalist economy is capital. If you are an investigator, and you are not a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), you may want to think about learning a new aspect of the trade. Any new certification is a way to improve yourself and help your business take on new clientele. Financial fraud is a major issue in this country and companies are paying good money for financial investigation.
Investigators can become certified in accident reconstruction and investigation, as well as arson investigation. Insurance companies are always looking for answers, since they are expected to pay out large checks to claimants. These types of specialities are handsome for the resume. Finding a specialty is not necessary but it definitely creates more streams for the flow of income.
Remaining stagnant in the surveillance industry without specializing or broadening your abilities is not a great idea if you do not already have well-established clients. Even if you do have well established clients, that does not mean you are 100% secure in that relationship.
Are you good at what you do?
Not the industry to fake a skill!
If you cannot do something, this is not the industry to pretend you can just to make a sale. This industry may seem small but is is cut throat and requires results even when it seems impossible. People are no longer accepting, "We couldn't find him." Clients pay good money and want results. I am more than aware that this is not always possible, but the way to minimize this failure is simply not offering services you can not provide. Period.
What are more ways to specialize in surveillance investigation?