Interested in a national security career that involves working with people every day, requires excellent time management and involves a lot of autonomy? Consider a career as a background investigator. Background investigators may work for contract companies or directly for the federal government. Background investigators are critical to the government’s personnel security program. Investigators aren’t responsible for deciding who gets a security clearance – they are the fact finders who search and confirm information related to an individual’s security clearance application.

What does a work day look like for a background investigator? Investigators work remotely in locations across the country. But don’t expect to spend every day at your home office or local coffee shop. Investigators spend a significant part of their day conducting personal subject interviews. But don’t worry – there’s no good-cop, bad-cop, even in complex cases. The interview is an amicable, fact finding discussion. The majority of an investigator’s day is spent reviewing cases, making phone calls to schedule interviews, conducting interviews, and writing reports. Background investigators generally have a great deal of autonomy in how they structure their days, including when they schedule and conduct interviews and when they write reports. Background investigators don’t generally work a standard nine-to-five work day.

Because a significant portion of a background investigator’s day is spent conducting interviews, excellent people skills are a must. Investigators should also have excellent writing skills, and the ability to organize information clearly. Because background investigators are dealing with applicants in the midst of a stressful job search and clearance application process, they need a great deal of sensitivity in working through stressful situations. Discretion is also a requirement. Investigators have access to sensitive personal information, from relationship issues to financial struggles.

If you love scouring for facts, don’t mind time in the car and enjoy interacting with people, a career as a background investigator may be a great one for you.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer