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How Much is a Private Investigator Salary?

Many people are thinking about switching to private investigations as their new careers. One of the most common questions that people in that position act is how much they're going to make doing this job. Like in any other profession, the salaries of private investigators hinge on various factors. From the type of employers to their level of experience, private investigator salaries can be anywhere from below the national average salary to well above the average.


Average Investigator Salaries Depending On Skill Level

A private investigator is only as good as the skills they possess. In the UK, someone can operate an investigation agency without undergoing any kind of training. This is due to the absence of compulsory licensing.

However, still in the UK, there are private investigators who have not only undergone the basic train but have also gone ahead to earn degrees in law, forensic sciences and other relevant fields. When a private investigator possesses more skills than the average investigator, they can be expected to command a higher salary.

A skilled investigator should be able to:

  • Take on more complex cases
  • Act as a consultant on security matters
  • Solve cases in less time or with more finesse
  • Market themselves better to potential clients

All these factors mean that such an investigator can earn an annual salary of up to £100,000. At the same time, a private investigator with only the most basic skills usually earns around £25,000 once they have some years of experience.


Location And Private Investigator Salaries

As it should be expected, location plays a big role in how much a private investigator earns. Private investigators' salaries can be affected by location because:

  • Some locations have fewer clients
  • The nature of cases in certain locations is fairly simple
  • Cost of living is higher in certain locations, justifying higher service fees

Private investigators in cities such as London and Portsmouth have the highest average salaries in the UK. The figures reduce as you move towards the small towns and rural areas.


Private Investigator Salaries Based On Experience

Experience is a key factor for private investigators who want to earn more. A trained private investigator who has no experience will likely earn a salary in the region of £15,000.

However, as the investigator gather experiences, they will be able to put a higher price on their services and they'll also be able to attract more customers, assuming they have a good reputation. This can raise their salary much higher, depending on whether or not they also invest in additional skills and qualifications.


Investigator Salaries Based On Employer

Many private investigators will either start their own agency or work in an established investigation agency. This will mean taking on jobs brought to them by the general public. However, other investigators will become in-house investigators. This means that they'll be permanent employees of specific organisations. This is common in auditing firms, financial institutions and insurance agencies, among others.

Typically, in-house investigators command a higher salary on average. This is because the companies they work for are bigger and there's always a steady stream of work to be done for the purpose of solving and preventing problems.

Investigators who run their own agencies or work for a small agency will be paid depending on the amount of business transacted in a given month. Therefore, pay can be low during a slow month.