A subcontractor is a licensed PI who offers specific skills, services, and equipment to another licensed PI or agency for hire to perform part of, or specific tasks of, an investigation. Many PI subcontractors prefer to work for multiple agencies. A subcontractor benefits from this arrangement because he or she does not have to worry about working directly with clients, running a full service PI firm, advertising, or leasing a commercial office.

How does this work? For example, a PI who contracts with a client to conduct an investigation at $85 per hour might hire a subcontractor for the surveillance aspect of an investigation for $40 per hour. The incentive for a PI to subcontract a surveillance task to another PI could be one or all of the following:

  • To deal with personnel, time, or equipment issues. Many PIs work with skeleton crews or do not have the particular expertise or equipment needed to complete an investigation. In addition to extensive skills and experience, a PI subcontractor might use more specialized equipment such as GPS tracking devices, a motorcycle to use in heavy traffic, a surveillance van with a periscope, a remote camera, or an aircraft/helicopter capability, etc.
  • To receive the same or better service from the subcontractor than the PI could have provided alone.
  • To lower the overall risk of possibly losing a subject during surveillance due to inexperience.
Subcontractors are usually required to provide copies of their state license and proof of being fully self-insured before an investigative firm or another PI will contract their services.