HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014
Private eye
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 27, 2012
First Published: 17:06 IST(27/11/2012)
Last Updated: 17:11 IST(27/11/2012)
Adventure quest: “You see, but you do not observe...” Sherlock Holmes, played by Robert Downey Jr, advised people to be mindful of their surroundings in the eponymous move

The lowdown

Detectives carry out undercover investigations for their clients, including solicitors, insurance companies, private companies and individuals. Investigations include family issues like divorce, adoption, business support regarding internal espionage or theft. The work may also include surveillance, fraud investigation, tracing missing persons, investigating commercial piracy, vetting personnel etc. You would typically work alone as a self-employed investigator. You could find work as an employee of an investigation agency or buy a franchise, which may combine the advantage of working alone with the benefits and contacts associated with being part of a large organisation. Alternatively, you could set up your own agency. Your success will not only depend on your investigative skills, knowledge and experience, but also on your ability to market your services. Whatever the era, the profession retains its charm and the ones who yearn for an adventurous life should join it with the aim of going the whole hog for the truth

The work hours could be irregular and include weekends as well
6am: Start trailing quarry
9am: Ask colleague on phone to gather other details of the quarry
1.30pm: Have lunch on the move following quarry till the s/he reaches home
9pm to midnight: Go home and prepare a report. If the information is not enough then, plan for the next day

The payoff
Private investigators can earn between Rs. 1,25,000 to Rs. 2,50,000 per annum. Top salaries in corporate investigation, for those with detailed legal knowledge, can be Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh per annum. (figures are indicative only). With experience, you could become a senior investigator or a team manager, or set up your agency

* Good verbal and written communication skills
* Excellent observation skills
* Strong analytical skills
* Self-confidence to present evidence in court
* Basic computer skills
* Knowledge of the law
* Ability to work independently
* Patience and perseverance
* Empathy for clients who may be distressed by your findings

Getting there
You may not need any qualifications to become a trainee investigator. A paid traineeship will be difficult to come by if you do not have relevant skills and knowledge. You can set up your detective agency, but attracting clients and providing good service requires appropriate skills. It is useful to have a good education plus some experience in field work (such as marketing/sales etc). You could contact local private investigators to find out about opportunities shadowing professionals. A list of potential employers can be found on the websites of the Association of Private Detectives and Investigators, Council of International Investigators and World Association of Detectives on their websites. A driving licence is essential for this work

Institutes and URLs
* Dr B R Ambedkar University, Agra — MSc forensic science
* University of Mysore — MA in criminology and forensics
* National Institute of Criminology — Master’s in criminology

Pros and cons
* Your findings could even save a life in a legal case
* Very risky work
* Trust in others takes a hit

Join this profession only if you have the passion. Don’t take it as a job to earn quick money -- Ramesh C Madan, a Delhi-based veteran detective who got a lifetime achievement award for investigation and intelligence from former President Pratibha Patil in 2009

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