The Life of a PI

Does the thought of being a gumshoe titillate your taste buds? Have you thought about sitting in a dusty office, your feet up on the desk, trench coat on, and hat pulled down over your eyes, as you contemplate which brilliant case you're going to solve next? This representation of a PI (Private Investigator) is one we can equate with cartoon figures and old black and white movies that showed the stereotypical private investigator as a lone wolf, spying on unsuspecting villains through dark glasses and swathes of cigarette smoke.

Unlike the cloak and dagger days of yore, today the profession is highly regulated, with would-be PI’s needing to undergo a national police fingerprint and character check, as well as successfully completing a Private Investigating Online Certificate Course. The certificate course is very intensive, reflective of the professional standards a PI requires to operate.

To enrol in the Certificate III in Investigative Services, students must be able to demonstrate both driving and advanced driving skills and complete a driving assessment. To complete this task, students must have two vehicles and two volunteers on standby, one to record a surveillance activity, the other to drive the vehicle you'll be following. Once enrolled, units undertaken include organisational skills, how to prepare and present evidence in court, how to develop investigative plans and compile reports and the importance of providing a quality service to your clients.

Industry professionals will tell you that patience is critical for anyone wanting to enter the secret world of private investigating. An acumen for problem solving helps, as does common sense, the ability to listen, think quickly, along with a healthy predilection for research. Perhaps most importantly, a PI needs to be a careful observer, willing to remain incognito and thorough in recording detail.

A common misnomer about PI’s is that they are somehow above the law. While that might once have been the case, with gumshoes depicted prowling outside windows and lurking in dark alleys with directional microphones, today investigating is a sophisticated and legal process. PI’s don't hack into phones, nor do they trespass on private property, rifle through bins or take secret videos through windows. The internet is a big help to PI’s, with many subjects indiscreet about what they place on social media and tracking and taping a subject out in the open, is a fair and legal practice. The Certificate III in Investigative Services teaches how to gather information by factual investigation, as well as how to conduct surveillance, conduct interviews and take statements, to ensure new PI’s uphold and maintain professional standards. Three elective units are offered in the Certificate course – Storing and Protecting Information, Operating Information Gathering Equipment and Locating Subjects – , which are highly recommended as they provide added insight into the wonderful world of professional snooping. 

The CFS Team
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