Private investigator

What they do

Private investigators conduct research and obtain information for their clients about personal or criminal matters, or help them locate missing persons. They conduct surveillance in order to locate missing persons or witnesses, obtain private or sensitive information about people of interest to their case from witnesses or personal observation, and maintain records of their findings. Private investigators may also work undercover to gather specific information about, or for, individuals or companies, conduct asset and liability checks, gather information on the theft of personal or commercial property, and provide advice on security.

Working conditions

Private investigators are usually self-employed. They work for individual clients, companies and sometimes solicitors. They usually work in offices, but are often required to obtain information about an individual's whereabouts or behaviour by following or tracking them. They usually travel locally, but may be required to travel greater distances at times. They work whenever it is necessary to obtain information for their clients, which may include evenings and on weekends. They are sometimes required to deal with people who are aggressive, and they occasionally risk physical or verbal abuse.

Tools and technologies

Private investigators use computers and other office equipment, as well as data management and record-keeping software. When undertaking surveillance activities they may use binoculars, microphones, and video or audio recording equipment to obtain evidence. They also handle evidence that may be used either in legal or criminal proceedings, such as financial records, bounced cheques or repossessed equipment. Private investigators usually require the use of a vehicle.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a private investigator you usually need to gain a qualification in investigation, accredited by the Western Australian Police. 

The Certificate III in Investigative Services is offered at some registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

Search the My Skills website or the Western Australian Police Licensing Services website to find a registered provider near you.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a private investigator in Western Australia you will need to obtain a licence from the Western Australian Police to either conduct investigations (Investigator licence) or to advertise and supply the services of investigators (Inquiry Agent licence).