Television shows are entertainment, pure and simple. The shows are not designed to reflect reality. As entertaining as detective and crime shows are, they don’t realistically portray what it’s like to be a Private Investigator. In fact, an Investigator spends a lot of time behind a desk, doing research, and helping clients. Hollywood likes to spice up this idea by romanticizing the dangerous aspects of the role.
Guideline for New Private Investigators
In real life, Private Investigators have rules and laws they must adhere to so they can keep their business viable. To excel as an Investigator, you have to understand the ethics and standards of the profession, and have a desire to truly help your clients. Here are the eight rules for Private Investigators that you will never see on TV.
1. If you’re uncomfortable with a client, don’t take them on - It doesn’t matter how vigorously they plead, or how much they offer. If something tells you this person is going to be too difficult, don’t take their case.
2. Use your ethics and core values - These are internal rules you already go by. Chances are if you entered this career field, you have a strong sense of justice and want to use it to help people. Don’t break your own code of ethics along the line. Stick to what you believe in, and you’ll propel your business forward.
3. Don’t pretend to be somebody you are not - This is a staple of TV Private Investigator shows. The Investigator has a stash of disguises ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice. This creates an exciting show, but in real life this would hurt your reputation.
4. Assume nothing - Everything anybody tells you in the course of an investigation is subject to questioning. In a movie, authorities don’t believe anyone. While some people do lie to police and Investigators, the fact is that most people try to be honest.
5. Your reputation is the only constant you have going for you - If you do something shady on a job or break your word in any way, your professional life is just about over. It only takes one falsehood or one questionable action to destroy your career.
6. Be flexible in situations - You can practice what you plan to do in any given case, but nothing ever goes by the book. You need to give yourself leeway to deviate from your training if the situation requires it.
7. Don’t break the law - Even if what you’re contemplating falls in the “grey zone,” pass that option by. It will never be worth it.
8. Don’t do anything purely for the money - That means someone else has power over you. You need to be independent to be a good Investigator.
A career as a Private Investigator can be rewarding and exciting. Just make sure to keep these rules in mind when you’re out on the job.
Private Investigator Laws in Florida
Every state has its own laws for Private Investigators. If you want to know more about the ethics and rules around this field, call the National Investigative Training Academy, Inc. (NITA). An advisor can help you register for the pre-licensing courses you need to develop your professional skillset. Call (800) 730-6482 to learn more about continuing education and pre-licensing courses for Private Investigators in Florida.