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Private Investigator

Private investigators gather information to secure evidence. Evidence may relate to a wide range of private, corporate, and legal interests.

  • Avg. Salary $35,929.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.35
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 11,000
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Fraud Investigator, Investigator

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Private Investigators (6465.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Protective Service Occupations (G625) 
  • 2011 NOC: Security guards and related security service occupations (6541) 
  • 2016 NOC: Security guards and related security service occupations (6541) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Private Investigator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Private Investigators

Interest in compiling information for use in civil and criminal litigation matters; may also conduct polygraph tests (integrity surveys) for clients


Interest in conducting investigations to locate missing persons


Interest in speaking to question individuals to obtain information and evidence

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2019

Private investigators look for evidence. In the course of their practice, they may:

  • Work to prevent loss caused by theft or fraud in businesses
  • Watch disability insurance claimants to see if they are working at another job while claiming disability, or if their activities are consistent with the claimed disability
  • Conduct searches for missing persons
  • Gather information for lawyers about defendants or witnesses in criminal and civil court cases
  • Gather material or evidence for individuals in divorce or child custody cases
  • Do pre-employment checks
  • Work with government agencies, such as provincial family maintenance agencies

To gather the information and evidence they need, private investigators may:

  • Interview subjects’ employers, friends, relatives, and other sources
  • Take photographs and videotape events
  • Locate witnesses and obtain statements from them
  • Search through public records
  • Keep individuals under surveillance
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

No two assignments are ever the same. However, long hours and hard work are usually involved. A lot of it is routine. Private investigators may work regular office hours evenings, nights, and weekends. A lot depends on the assignment.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Private investigators need:

  • Tact
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • A good memory
  • Mental alertness and physical fitness
  • An inquiring mind and affinity for detail
  • A determination to investigate each problem thoroughly
  • Integrity and the ability to remain neutral
  • Camera skills (photo and video)
  • The ability to blend into different environments
  • The ability to assess how evidence relates to an investigation
  • Skill in report writing
  • Excellent driving skills to maintain sight lines during mobile surveillance

They should enjoy:

  • Adjusting quickly to changing work duties
  • Finding creative ways to search for individuals
  • Working with people
  • Taking a methodical approach to compiling information
  • Working alone for long periods
  • Using technology and electronic devices
  • Making on-the-spot decisions when case conditions change

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Security guards and related security service occupations
NOC code: 6541

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 19 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Jan 21, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: MS Word
Patrol assigned areas
Business Equipment and Computer Applications: MS Outlook
Produce reports
Enforce regulations to maintain order and resolve conflicts and to monitor establishment activities
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Private investigators must:

  • Be licensed by the Government of Alberta, or employed by a licensed agency
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a Canadian citizen or legally entitled to work in Canada
  • Be competent and of good character
  • Have no serious criminal record for which a pardon has not been granted
  • Have no outstanding charges and not be the subject of a criminal investigation
  • Be fluent in English (to communicate with the public and first responders in emergency situations)

Individuals may be licensed in the following classes:

  • Security services worker, including loss prevention worker, security alarm responder, executive protection worker, and patrol dog handler
  • Investigator
  • Locksmith
  • Automotive lock-bypass worker

To do investigative work, individuals must hold an investigator class licence. They may hold more than one licence class. However, those with an investigator class licence may not also hold locksmith or automotive lock-bypass license classes.

Applicants for the investigator class licence must complete a mandatory Alberta Professional Investigator Training Course (AIT). (They may provide proof of equivalent training.) They must also pass the provincial final exam. For more information, including training details and approved training providers, see the Government of Alberta website.

Some agencies require job applicants to have:

  • Valid first aid and CPR certificates
  • A valid driver’s licence
  • A vehicle

Related experience or education is an asset when seeking employment. Many agencies provide further training programs for new employees.

Investigators need a good working knowledge of the city or area where they work.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Canadian Criminal Justice Academy

Medicine Hat College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Private Investigator

Private investigators gather information to secure evidence relating to a wide range of private, corporate and legal interests.


Under Alberta's Security Services and Investigators Act [pdf], Security Services and Investigators Regulation [pdf] and Security Services and Investigators (Ministerial) Regulation [pdf], you must be licensed by the Government of Alberta to conduct surveillance activities or seek information about crimes, misconduct or allegations; causes of accidents, injury or damage; the activities or reputation of a person; or the location of property or whereabouts of a person.

What You Need

An applicant for licensing must be at least 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen or legally entitled to work in Canada, fluent in spoken English, competent and of good character and not the subject of a criminal investigation; have no serious criminal record or outstanding criminal charge; and successfully complete training and examination requirements. For official, detailed information about licensing requirements, visit the Government of Alberta website.

Working in Alberta

Private investigators who are licensed and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for licensing in Alberta if they meet the training standards for Alberta. In order to perform investigation work in Alberta an Alberta licence is required. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Security Programs
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
P.O. Box 1023 Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta  
Canada T5J 2M1

Call: 1-877-462-0791


Additional Information 

Further certification may be an asset when seeking work. For example, ASIS International offers Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) accreditation. It is recognized in the US and is gaining recognition in Canada.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Most private investigators (PI) work for investigation companies and security agencies. Some start their own agencies.

To open an agency, a PI needs a contract business licence from the Government of Alberta. Applicants for this licence must:

  • Be a registered company in Canada with an address in Alberta
  • Hold a business licence or permit in the municipality where the business operates, if applicable
  • Carry $1 million liability insurance
  • Ensure that co-owners, partners, and board members have no serious criminal record for which a pardon has not been granted
  • Have no outstanding criminal charges and not be the subject of a criminal investigation
  • Pay a licensing fee of $1,500 for a 3-year term

Applicants who are sole proprietors must meet both business and individual requirements. (See Educational Requirements.) That is, they must submit both business and individual licensing application forms and documents. They are only required to pay the $1,500 business licensing fee.

Advancement opportunities are limited.

Private investigators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6541: Security guards and related security service occupations. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Alberta, the 6541: Security guards and related security service occupations occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 211 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the 211 new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Private investigators are most often paid hourly with mileage. Some are paid a commission according to the fee paid by the client. Earnings vary a great deal depending on employer and experience.

Security guards and related security service occupations

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $27.57 $17.78 $16.00
Overall $15.00 $32.29 $20.35 $19.59
Top $15.00 $37.38 $26.19 $22.78

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
Educational Services
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Retail Trade
Information, Culture, Recreation
Accommodation & Food Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Alberta Association of Private Investigators website:

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General website:

Canadian Association of Private Investigators website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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