Top Careers in Investigation You Should Look Into

Published November 23, 2021
lady detective is looking for clues

Are you an analytical person who loves to solve mysteries? If so, working as an investigator might be the perfect career for you. Some investigators work in law enforcement, but this isn't the only option. You might be surprised to discover how varied the investigation career options really are. From scientific investigations to (legal) hacking, there is something for everyone in this interesting occupation.

Detective/Criminal Investigator

Law enforcement agencies employ detectives and criminal investigators. They are responsible for gathering facts and evidence that is used to figure out who committed crimes and how those crimes took place. This is a job that people are promoted to after first working successfully as a police officer. Many police departments require detectives to have a degree, in addition to graduating from the Police Academy. Median compensation for detectives and investigators employed by law enforcement agencies is around $67,000 per year.

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians also play an important role in investigating crimes for law enforcement agencies. Forensic scientists don't knock on doors and interview suspects the way that detectives do. Instead, they gather physical evidence from crime scenes and analyze it in a laboratory setting. Working in this field requires at least a bachelor's degree in forensic science, biology, chemistry, or a related field of scientific study. The average pay for forensic science technicians is around $60,000 per year.

Hands Of Detective Examining Crime Scene

Medical Examiner

In order to work as a medical examiner, one must first be a medical doctor (M.D.). These physicians, who are usually forensic pathologists, investigate deaths from a medical perspective. They conduct autopsies and gather evidence from the bodies of deceased individuals. They take specimens and order lab tests as warranted by circumstances, then interpret those results to identify the reason a person died. They also testify in homicide and wrongful death court cases and provide expert medical testimony in other types of cases. Average compensation for medical examiners exceeds $110,000 per year.

Digital Forensics Analysts

Digital forensics analysts also play a role in criminal investigations. They are responsible for seeking to recover evidence and other information from digital devices, such as computers, cell phones, and tablets, as well as from digital video and audio recordings. They can find and recover deleted information and determine whether digital evidence has been tampered with. They help to investigate things like fraud, cybercrime, and terrorism. The average pay for digital forensics analysts is around $67,000 per year.

Contact Tracers

Contact tracers do a type of medical investigation work. Their role is to identify, find, and communicate with people who have been exposed to a contagious disease. Hiring for contact tracers increased greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic, though community health agencies and organizations that deal with epidemiology and infectious disease control have contact tracers on staff at all times. Some contact tracing positions require a nursing license or other medical credentials, while others simply require social services experience and strong communication skills. The average pay for contact tracing jobs is around $21.50 per hour.

Private Investigators

Private investigators, also referred to as private detectives, work independently or for law firms or investigation companies. They search for information on behalf of clients who hire them to look into situations. Some private investigators specialize in certain types of matters, such as workers' compensation cases. Others do general investigation work, looking into personal, financial, or legal matters as needed. Most states require private investigators to be licensed. The median pay for private detectives is just over $53,000 per year.

Detective working late on a case in the office

Insurance Investigators

Insurance companies employ investigators who conduct research to determine if insurance claims that have been filed are legitimate or fraudulent. Their duties involve things like looking into fires to find out whether they were intentionally set for the purpose of committing insurance fraud. Most employers require a degree for this kind of work, but some will hire people on the basis of having investigation experience. High-level roles may require a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential. The median pay for insurance investigators is around $45,000 per year.

Title Researchers

Title research professionals investigate records related to real estate ownership. They conduct extensive research to verify who currently owns a piece of real estate and who has owned it in the past. They check to see if the current owner has a clear title to the property, which would mean that they are able to sell it and convey the title to someone else. This requires checking to see if there are any mortgages or debtor's liens that would have to be satisfied before the property could be sold. Title examiners earn an average of around $48,000 per year.


Genealogists specialize in researching family history. Most people who get into genealogy do so because they want to investigate their own family history, but then discover they are passionate about doing this kind of historical research to help connect others to their ancestors. Family history companies and libraries, as well as membership-based organizations that require people to demonstrate their lineage in order to join (such as the Daughters of American Revolution), have genealogists on staff. So do some libraries and archive collections. The average compensation for professional genealogists is more than $72,000 per year.

Professional Hackers

People with mad computer skills may be excited to learn that hacking, from an investigative perspective, is a lucrative and legal career opportunity. With so much focus on computer security due to the serious risks posed by criminal hackers, companies often employ the services of information security analysts to identify weaknesses in their computer systems and data storage. People who do this work usually have a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential. They use their skills to investigate ways to breach their clients' systems. When they are successful, the client knows where they have a weakness and can take steps to mitigate risk. Certified Ethical Hackers earn an average of nearly $84,000 per year.

Many Investigation Careers to Consider

These are just a few of the many fascinating careers in the investigation field. Whether you like being active and talking to people to gather evidence, or you're more of an introvert who finds the idea of doing solitary research to be more appealing, there are many great investigation career paths to consider.

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Top Careers in Investigation You Should Look Into