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The Effects of Working as a Private Investigator on Your Personal Life

Sep 4, 2008
If you wish to become a private investigator, it's important to take into account the effects the job may have on your personal life. In this article I will set out what some of these effects can be.

In many ways, private investigation is not so much an occupation as a way of life. It's important that you and your loved ones are prepared for this, and can accept that there will be times when your work has to come first.

Stress can be a problem, and many investigators find that working long, irregular hours has a detrimental effect on their social lives and family relationships. Sometimes your life might not seem your own, and there will be times when you are away from loved ones and friends for days, even weeks on end. All but the strongest relationships can crumble under such conditions. Bear this in mind before entering the business!

Stress may also result from the company the investigator keeps. As well as working with honest and law-abiding individuals, they may find themselves in regular contact with rogues and hardened criminals.

And stress can also arise from the fact that this is an endlessly challenging occupation. Every case is different, and much of the time you will have only experience and intuition to guide you. Sometimes, inevitably, you will make mistakes, which may or may not seriously hamper your investigation. At other times the results you come up with may be contrary to what your client wanted or expected. Professional investigators accept this as part of the job, but having to disappoint a client, or even admit to failure, is never easy, especially if you must then present them with your bill.

But there is a plus side as well, in that investigators choose their clients and can even walk away from a case that encroaches too far into their private lives. Police officers have no choice but to deal with whatever comes their way, explaining why many ex-policemen find the investigator business almost cushy by comparison.

Sadly, alcoholism is also rampant among private investigators, often because bars and licensed restaurants are the easiest, least obvious places to work from. Successful investigators choose non-alcoholic refreshments during working hours, arguing that a clear mind is their most important asset. Quick thinking and fast decision-making skills are crucial.

The business can, however, have serious implications for your private life. Social dates in an investigator's diary are frequently dashed at the expense of an urgent new case or a sudden important development in an old one. It's important to have understanding friends and relatives who know that your work sometimes has to take priority over personal relationships.

Overall, private investigation is a fascinating and generally well-paid profession, but it is decidedly not a nine-to-five job. If you are thinking of entering this field it is essential that you, and your family and friends, understand this clearly.

To avoid problems, you should also take a professional training course before setting out in this field. This applies even if you have previously worked in a related profession, such as the police or private security industry. A good training course will prepare you for all the many aspects of working as a private investigator, and help to reduce the undoubted stresses felt by newcomers to the profession. Training will also give you the necessary legal background to operate successfully as a PI and avoid inadvertently breaking the law.
About the Author
Mark Gustaffson is the author of the Professional Private Investigator Course from Maple Academy (UK), a leading correspondence course in this field. For more information, see the Maple Academy website at http://www.mapleacademy.com.
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