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Were you fired because you always had your nose in your co-workers business? Maybe you should put your inner-snoop to work.

If you think Sherlock Holmes is cool, or if you want to grow a mustache as awesome as Magnum P.I.’s, then maybe a job as a private investigator is for you.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want a job where they could come in at noon, hang out with long-legged dames who may or may not have killed their husbands, and collect lots of cash for spying on cheating husbands?

But not so fast.

Becoming a private eye in 2011 isn’t anything like the movies. Jessica Rabbit isn’t going to become your first customer.

The work of private investigators includes surveillance, conducting criminal investigations, detecting insurance fraud, and other investigative services. The clients are as varied as the work. They include the government, insurance companies, lawyers, and private citizens. Licensed private investigators often work for attorneys in civil cases or on behalf of defense attorneys. Many licensed private detectives work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious or fraudulent insurance claims. Some times private investigators are hired to obtain proof of adultery or illegal conduct to establish grounds for a divorce. Collecting evidence of adultery or other bad behavior by spouses and partners is still one of the most common and profitable activities that licensed private investigators perform.

Jennifer Knolls of Los Angeles lost her job as an administrative assistant in a law office and decided to open her own private investigation agency two years ago.

“I had done a lot of searches for my boss at the county offices and also helped some clients gather their paperwork,” Knolls said. “I enjoyed the work and seemed to have a knack. Now I help people with problems and make good money doing it.”

Employment of private detectives and investigators is expected to grow 22 percent over the 2008-18 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. The average median wage is $53,250.

Many jurisdictions require private investigators to be licensed, and they may or may not carry firearms depending on local laws. Some investigators are ex-law enforcement officers. Investigators typically keep detailed notes during each case and often testify in court regarding their observations on behalf of their clients.

Private detectives also undertake a variety of work that is not usually associated with the industry in the public’s view. For example, many are involved in process serving, the personal delivery of summons, subpoenas, and other legal documents to parties in a legal case. The tracing of debtors can also form a large part of an investigator’s work load. Many agencies specialize in a particular field of expertise. For example, some agencies deal only in skip tracing. Others may specialize in technical surveillance countermeasures, which is the locating and dealing with unwanted forms of electronic surveillance (for example, a boardroom bugged for industrial espionage purposes).

Most private detectives and investigators have some college education and previous experience in investigative work, but you can start out working for a licensed investigator. There are training classes at private agencies as well as community colleges.

So stop looking for your ex on the Internet, put your stalking skills to work by becoming a legitimate private investigator, and start earning a paycheck again.

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