Private Investigator vs. Private Detective

Private Investigator vs. Private Detective

POSTED July 30, 2023
BY Matt Aubin

Matt is both the company founder and a nationally renowned private investigator. Matt is an intelligence specialist who excels in detecting and preventing the illegal interception of communications and in providing high-tech covert surveillance. Matt has years of hands on experience in the investigation industry and has developed a reputation for incorporating state of the art technology and innovative ideas to provide effective solutions for his clients. Matt also serves as Treasurer for the Executive Board of Directors of FALI, The Florida Association of Licensed

Growing up, we’ve all watched those detective movies where the detective has to help to solve an entire case on a time constraint. Even if you didn’t grow up watching these movies, you’d still be familiar with characters such as Sherlock Holmes. The famous fictional character was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his fictional book series, where Holmes tries to solve mysterious incidents.

A private detective and a private investigator Orlando are both the same. Many people get confused over what the difference between the two professions is. Still, the truth is, there is no difference.

The difference lies between a detective and a private investigator. A detective works for the government or a federal institution. However, a private investigator is not bound by any such restrictions. A private investigator works on a personal level with people, independent of the state.

A Detective  

A detective is bound by law. Such a person is a high-rank police officer who has the authority to investigate people’s private matters because the law allows him to do so.

Detectives work for the local police departments and help them solve criminal cases. Detectives cannot function on their own or independently as they are bound to follow the government or federal laws.

A Private Investigator 

A private investigator or detective is a person who works independently of the state. Such a person offers his services in return for money.

A private investigator usually helps do background checks on people, traces people who go missing, and investigates cyber-crimes or other personal, legal, or financial issues. A private investigator isn’t employed anywhere. Instead, he works privately on a project basis.

Similarities and Differences between a Detective and a Private Investigator


  • Nature of the Job: One of the similarities between the two is the nature of their job. Both a detective and a private investigator are required to analyze information intricately. They are required to pinpoint clues that others don’t notice in their haste.
  • Using Resources: Using their resources or using the law to help them, both are expected to invest in helping solve a case. Be it their problem-solving skills or analytical ones, they share their fair share of similarities when it comes to solving cases.
  • Personality Traits: Being smart and inquisitive is a prerequisite of being a detective or a private investigator.


  • Workload: A detective has to stay on the call 24/7. They are assigned cases and cannot choose how much workload to take on. Contrary to that, private investigators can choose which cases to take on and are not obliged to take on any cases they don’t want.
  • Domain: Detectives are bound to stay within the boundaries of the law. They have access to the authorized information and resources that a private investigator does not. A private investigator cannot demand to be let into anyone’s home because they don’t have this authority just like any other citizen. Whereas, a detective can obtain warrants that allow them to search homes.
  • Backing: A private investigator always needs to be wary of the troubles that his investigation can bring about as a by-product. This is because he has no law to back his activities.
  • Working Hours: The number of hours employed detectives work for is usually calculated and determined. Contrary to that, the hours of a private investigator are not defined. A private investigator happens to work round the clock.
  • Salary: The detective’s salary is fixed; they earn the same amount regardless of how many cases they solve. Whereas, a private investigator’s salary is determined by the number of hours they work or cases they solve. Usually, private investigators charge on per hour basis, which may cost you $50 to $200 per hour. The charges vary from case to case, dependent upon the nature of each case.

Requirements for Becoming a Detective or a Private Investigator

While there is a certain education criterion for becoming a detective, no such restrictions are applied in the case of a private investigator.

You can choose to be a private investigator without any formal education. However, your practical training matters a lot. Hence, having an apprenticeship or learning formally under experienced investigators matters in this case. Mostly, detectives who have served in police departments become private investigators later on.

Even if you don’t have any formal education, getting a private investigator’s license can be helpful. As this will become proof of you having the appropriate training. Licensing laws are different and vary from country to country.

A detective working in a police department or any other intelligence department must go obtain formal education before becoming a part of any such agencies or departments.

To be an investigator or a detective, it is necessary to be extrovert and enthusiastic. You should be analytical, investigative, confident, and introspective. You should also have confidence and should be energetic in solving the cases. Additionally, it is essential to be ambitious and adventurous as only these qualities keep a person thrilled and going during difficult phases of a case.

How to Hire a Detective or a Private Investigator?

Hiring a private investigator for your issues can be a troublesome task. However, if you need one, then make sure to follow the following steps:

  • Decide what kind of services you need from the investigator. Is it a background check that you need? Or do you want a private investigator for legal proceedings?
  • Look for some referrals and find someone who might have sought services of an investigator in the past.
  • Check if the investigator has a professional website and an office of his own.
  • Ask for their professional licensing number. Every investigator who is licensed must have one.

To hire an investigator means sharing your sensitive personal information with them. Hence, you must be comfortable with the investigator that you want to hire.


All in all, the job description of both a detective and an investigator is quite similar. However, a detective and a private investigator have different job hours, ways of working, and salaries when it comes to the differences.

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Mark A., Tampa, FL | Attorney, 16 years

I have worked with Southern Recon on several investigations. He is an excellent investigator who always gets the job done no matter how complex or dangerous the situation. His fees are very reasonable and he usually puts in more hours than he gets paid for in order to make sure he does a professional job. I highly recommend Southern Recon Agency.

Tina G., Ontario, Canada

Matt provided me with superior service. He handled my investigation in a very professional manner and was always available for me 24/7. He helped solve my case and provided me with accurate evidence proving the suspicion of my husband’s infidelity. I highly recommend his services. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for his services!

Chris G., Tampa, Fl

I requested a background investigation on person that I was looking to conduct business with. I corresponded with the professionals at the Agency over email and the telephone. At no time, was I confused or concern about the process of this investigation. The process was thoroughly explained. Matt Aubin potentially saved me thousands of dollars by giving me an accurate understanding of who I was looking to do business with. Needless to say, I will not be conducting any business with this individual. I am extremely grateful for the work performed by Matt and the agency. It was worth every penny. The level of service provided exceeded my expectations.

Donnie C., Orlando, Fl

These folks are professional and will get results for you quickly. They are not the run of the mill grinding hours for billing people that often fill this profession. Thanks!