Private-Sector Investigator

Private-sector investigators work in the loss prevention department for retail and warehouse security, as independent or agency private investigators, or as internal and external fraud analysts for an organization. Most businesses that possess an inventory of goods in a warehouse or retail environment have a Loss Prevention department committed to reducing inventory shrinkage and preventing retail larceny. Private investigators gather facts and collect evidence to conduct investigations on a variety of different crimes. Internal fraud analysis is primarily concerned with monitoring a company’s own employees, whereas external fraud analysis deals with outside fraudsters.

Benefits of the CFE Credential 

The CFE credential provides private-sector investigators with the knowledge required to conduct investigations of civil or criminal fraud, or of white-collar crime. Earning the CFE credential gives you an understanding of why people commit fraud and ways to prevent it, the types of fraudulent financial transactions, and interviewing, records and transactions. This knowledge set will place you as a leading expert in the fraud investigation field. 
The ACFE’s Global Salary Study found that CFEs earn a 17% income premium over their peers without the credential, which demonstrates the value employers place on the credential. The study also provides valuable information and comparisons helpful to all anti-fraud professionals in benchmarking their compensation levels and career growth. The training, fraud resources and continuing education provided by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) will help in any stage of your career path. Refer to the Compensation section below for more information about the compensation ranges for private-sector investigators.

Job Types 

Private Sector Graph


Loss Prevention

Most businesses that possess an inventory of goods in a warehouse or retail environment devote significant resources to a Loss Prevention department. Loss prevention professionals are committed to reducing inventory shrinkage and preventing retail larceny by both customers and employees. They are commonly tasked with conducting covert physical and video surveillance, as well as the apprehension of shoplifters. Additionally, they are often involved in the development of security strategies necessary for the protection of a company’s assets and employees.


Private Investigator 

Private investigators conduct investigations by gathering evidence through interviews, surveillance and computer research. Types of private investigators include computer forensic, financial, legal, corporate and loss prevention. Most states require a license to become a private investigator and you may be required to obtain a city license in some states. 

Internal Fraud Analyst 

Most medium-to-large-sized companies employ internal fraud analysts. These analysts are tasked with identifying fraud perpetrated by members of the company’s employee base. Internal fraud analysts routinely take action on employee tips, exception reports, and irregularities found in compliance and sales audits. The internal fraud analyst is responsible for gathering evidence, writing detailed reports and interviewing employees. Internal fraud departments are often responsible for developing best practices and educating employees about fraud awareness. 

External Fraud Analyst 

Whereas internal fraud analysis is primarily concerned with monitoring a company’s own employees, external fraud analysis deals with outside fraudsters, many of whom conduct schemes in collusion with current or former employees. External fraud commonly occurs with vendors and subcontractors running various billing or sales schemes against a company. External fraud analysts also investigate instances of pretexting and social engineering intended to steal sensitive information. Additionally, external fraud analysts are sometimes involved in examining various forms of cyberfraud, including phishing or hacking attempts. 


For most private-sector fraud investigators, a high school education is required. Some college education or a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement or criminal justice is a plus and sometimes required. Private investigators learn most of their skills on the job and may be required to obtain a license. For individuals in loss prevention and internal and external fraud analysis, a bachelor’s degree is usually preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities 

It is important to plan and conduct an honest self-assessment of your knowledge, skills and abilities. In particular, employers are looking for: 

Knowledge Skills Abilities

White-collar crime

Conduct surveillance Attention to detail
Organized crime Evidence collection Functions in stressful situations
Financial crime Conduct interviews Alert to surroundings
Computer forensic Record examination Understands associated risks
Bribery and corruption Writing reports Honest
Money laundering Computer Sound judgement
Loss prevention   High integrity
Counterfeiting   Responsible
Fraudulent documents   Strong judge of character
Credit card fraud    


Income level varies depending on education, experience and certifications. Download the 2022 Compensation Guide for Anti-Fraud Professionals, which benchmarks salary and benefits across several categories for anti-fraud professionals around the world.