Investigator Skills: Definition, Duties and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Investigator skills help professionals gather important data and draw conclusions from their findings. These are essential characteristics to have in a variety of industries, ideal for highlighting on resumes and cover letters. Developing investigative skills help you go further in your work by emphasising to employers your capacity to obtain and analyse information. In this article, we define investigative skills, share some insight into the role and salaries, discuss working conditions and list some of the most important skills.

What are investigator skills?

Investigative skills are the abilities individuals use to gather data and draw conclusions to expose crucial information. These abilities also assist specialists in extensively examining a topic and discovering items of relevance that may not have been obvious to people lacking this skill. Investigators are also obliged to undertake ongoing training and development to maintain tight secrecy.

11 investigator skills to succeed in the role

Here's a list of investigative skills that may assist professionals in performing their duties effectively:

1. Problem-solving

These abilities aid investigators in compiling gathered information. Because the majority of investigation job entails solving a case, it's critical for these professionals to figure out how to connect a series of events. Effective investigators analyse their evidence to draw findings that guide them on how to proceed with a scenario.

2. Conducting interviews

The ability to interview subjects aid investigators in gathering vital information. This may include interrogation, in which an investigator interviews a perpetrator or victim to determine what occurred during a specific criminal occurrence. Strong interviewing skills may also help generate useful responses and better cooperation from interviewees.

3. Evidence collection

Evidence collection is the ability to gather important information, such as hints that help investigators comprehend why something may have happened, or that support or corroborate a certain belief. Investigators frequently gather evidence by conducting tests or visiting and studying crime scenes. When gathering evidence, it's vital for investigators to follow standard legal procedures.

4. Report writing

This sort of writing enables people conducting an inquiry to appropriately document their findings. It's critical to establish clarity in their writing so that readers understand their reports. These reports also provide supporting material to back up findings to be sent to a court that may use these written pieces to help convict or acquit an individual.

Related: How to Write a Report in 5 Steps (Plus Template and Example)

5. Critical thinking

These abilities assist investigators in objectively analysing cases and avoiding assumptions that impede their ability to draw true conclusions. These abilities enable experts to examine facts and make critical decisions about an investigation. This skill may also assist them in either confirming earlier inferences or appropriately altering their opinions on a case.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definition and Examples

6. Honesty

This competence assists investigators in avoiding bias and ensuring fairness when acquiring information. Because investigators may have secret material, it's critical that they strategically divulge it or choose not to reveal it at all. When gathering information, effective investigators frequently follow a code of ethics and are truthful with the evidence they offer.

7. Flexibility

Because the direction of an investigation may change as a person acquires information, it's critical for these specialists to be adaptable. This may necessitate deviating from an initial concept and evaluating the best way to proceed. When researching a subject or event, successful investigators are frequently non-judgemental and open to new ideas. This ability also necessitates a willingness to use new technologies and inventive inquiry approaches to aid them.

Related: Work Flexibility: Definition, Importance, Types and How To

8. Observation

Another key investigative skill is observation, which involves paying close attention to one's environment. When obtaining information, it's frequently necessary to survey an area and document key characteristics. Professionals also use this talent when interviewing a person to detect body language and conflicting comments, which may aid an investigator in reaching accurate conclusions.

9. Research skills

It's generally useful to know how to gather and understand pertinent information when conducting an investigation. Investigators frequently analyse background knowledge on specific topics to fully appreciate a situation. For example, a legal investigator may conduct background checks on perpetrators to learn about their criminal history and other pertinent information.

10. Courage

Some investigations may include dangerous people or situations that necessitate perseverance. When conducting an investigation, be prepared for a variety of situations. This ability also assists professionals in gathering facts more intimidating persons participating in an investigation. Alongside courage, having a good level of physical fitness is essential.

11. Self-motivation

Being self-motivated is advantageous in an investigative function because these positions frequently require working independently. Professional investigators use tenacity to keep studying, even when faced with a barrier or failure. Effective investigators frequently stay focused on their overarching purpose to reach accurate results.

Related: 15 Ways to Motivate Yourself at Work and Improve Productivity

12. Curiosity

Curiosity, such as asking questions to determine why a specific event occurred, is a crucial skill to have when conducting investigations. This skill comprises an interest in learning more about a subject and may assist a professional in remaining committed to an investigation when its pace slows.

13. Teamwork

Strong teamwork skills help to build effective and collaborative relationships with coworkers and other external agency staff. Alongside this, it's important to stay respectful to people regardless of their social, cultural, or racial background, status, circumstances, or appearance. Outstanding communication skills are also beneficial as you have to convey your demands, instructions, and judgments clearly and succinctly, both written and spoken.

14. Decision-making

As an investigator, decision-making abilities are essential. Decisions are ideally based on a logical and analytical approach to evaluate situations, risks and evidence. This skill also helps ensure true independence when working on daily tasks.

Related: Enhance Your Decision-Making With Deductive Reasoning

What does an investigator do?

To gain a successful conviction, investigators collaborate with law enforcement agencies, individuals and businesses to investigate and solve crimes. They collect, evaluate and preserve evidence as part of extensive investigations into complicated criminal activities and other infractions of the law. While at the scene of a crime, they direct crime scene investigators and other law enforcement personnel, using deductive reasoning and analysis to reach informed decisions and conclusions that lead to prosecution.

Investigators prepare detailed case reports, keep records, organise search and arrest warrants, and arrest individuals as appropriate. They handle electronic surveillance equipment and testify in court about case evidence and findings to obtain a conviction. Investigators also have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a similar discipline and have completed equivalent training at a federal law enforcement academy.

The average salary of an investigator

A variety of factors, such as years of experience and educational qualifications, may determine an investigator's salary. The average salary of an investigator is $203,648 per year. You may also earn more in cash bonuses and be eligible for employee benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance and yearly leave.

The working conditions of an investigator

The working conditions of investigators vary according to their crime speciality. This also depends on whether they work with police as criminal investigators or special agents for a government agency, or work privately as investigators for individuals or organisations. The work of investigators may take them from a dangerous crime scene to a computer at an office, to outside a person's home or inside a courtroom.

Depending on the nature of the job, an investigator's working conditions may include travelling to a number of both indoor and outdoor locations. They may encounter criminals, people who don't want to be observed, severe weather or traffic problems. Surveillance of persons or scenes may also necessitate investigators standing for extended amounts of time and working with surveillance equipment.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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