Private Eye: Worth As Much As a Good Mechanic

To become a licensed private investigator in California you need 6,000 hours documented experience in the field and then must pass the examination. Many don’t realize the somewhat strict requirements.

I don’t know all the particulars but the only states that might have tougher requirements are New York and Nevada.

What triggered my thinking about this was the excellent sting colleague Chris Butler did with the ABC News I-Team going after unlicensed private investigators. When it comes to undercover video, do not mess with Chris Butler. We all did the requirements the right way so we don’t take kindly to people who cut corners and who give our profession a bad name. Unlicensed private eyes pose the biggest threat to our earning a living. Butler found a few private eyes advertising on Craigslist who claimed to be licensed but who in reality had no credentials and even had criminal records.

I ask myself that awkward question from time to time: How much am I worth? I find the answer on the wall at my auto mechanic in Oakland: about $95/hour for labor. Our clients have problems or need answers and we get them for them in a timely manner. You have a deadbeat who was skipped town and needs to be located, or you need to find and take statements from three witnesses who could make your client’s personal injury case. We fix things or make problems go away.

I may not like all my competition but I have begrudging respect for most of them. They are all good at some facet of the job and they have all been in business for as long as I have or maybe even more.

I tell any client this: If price seems too good to be true don’t take it. There’s a reason someone is low-balling. Reputation and experience count for a lot in this profession.