General questions about this line of work

Hello everyone. I just got offered a FI position in a relatively low-cost of living area in GA with a base salary of 50k. The company is Paragon. I just wanted to reach out to those who had some experience rather than fully put my trust in a recruiter. I had some general questions that maybe some of you can answer. A little about me…. Former military MP, BA degree, 34 YO, single, no kids.

  • This position requires the use of my personal vehicle. I am told I will receive so many cents per mile that I drive. Can I expect to put a boatload of miles on my personal vehicle every year doing this job?

  • Is there job security here? What are the odds that I’m bumped down to part-time or just let go all together?

  • How on earth do they calculate overtime as you are obviously on your own 99% of the time?

  • Is that 50k salary pretty good for an entry level FI?

  • Lastly, what is the general consensus here. Pursue it, or run like hell in the opposite direction? I’m currently employed and paid well. I’m just looking to relocate closer to family.

The first one is hard to say since we’ve been nearly fully remote for almost 2.5 years. It completely depends on your location. I probably used to average 800 miles per month.

There is no job security. I have been put on forced OT and mandatory unpaid leave within months of each other. Not to mention we have no idea which of the three companies is getting axed in the upcoming rebid.

You very closely report all your hours worked on all contracts.

I wouldn’t be mad at that starting salary. I started at much lower before they realized people were leaving in droves and they had to raise rates to be somewhat competitive. But again, this is dependent on your geographic location.

If you already have stable, well-paying gig, I absolutely would not leave. It’s a lot to stress and nonsense for little reward.

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$50K is better than what I imagined these vendors (CACI, Peraton, and Paragon) paying an entry level Investigator. The entry level pay used to be around high $20K to low $30K so I would say the entry level pay is the best I’ve ever seen at this point in the era of this industry. It may not seem like much to you but it is very good compared to what it used to be.

The problem is will you ever get promoted or make a more live-able income? Like let’s say $75K to $85K? The answer to that is not likely. These vendors rarely promote and even if you did you’d be working like a machine to maintain those types of metrics.

My advice to you is find something else to do. You’ll be much happier and avoid unnecessary stress. Wait until you get constant reopens on your case and get your first two to three assignments that will absolutely overwhelm you. This job isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you have a good work ethic and if you cannot find something that pays better than $50K, then you can make it work for awhile.

This work is still done primarily by telephone. I don’t see you putting on more than a couple hundred miles on your car per month at the most.

Most of all, find a mentor and person you can call regularly to bounce questions off and stay in touch with that person. Have a lunch with them regularly so you can keep each other sane. This is a lonely and solitary job and you end up internalizing everything which can make the job pretty stressful and feeling of being absolutely alone and overwhelmed. The actual job duties can make the job seem very mundane, monotonous, and boring so try to enjoy something about the job…like a new area to travel to and visit and talking to interesting and successful people. If you are real smart and can sell yourself, use your opportunity of visiting HR offices and meeting with CEO’s, Presidents, and supervisors in getting into places and seeing people you would not otherwise visit to work somewhere else and apply for a different job elsewhere.

There is no job security. You can be laid off or fired for not meeting your metrics of interviews per day and work transmitted. Work can ebb and flow from month to month and when it’s low you’ll be assigned to TDY for 3-4 weeks in a different part of the country to find work although with telephone work being primarily dominant, you’ll more than likely avoid TDY’s for the foreseeable future. The worst part of the job is that most supervisors that supervise Investigators haven’t worked a case ever or haven’t worked a case in 15+ years and all they do is “pile and smile” on the work. They are clueless and incompetent and even though they absolutely know management at these vendors are corrupt, they rarely will ever stand up for the Investigator or provide good feedback to the companies they represent of the deplorable conditions in which they treat the field Investigator because they are afraid themselves of being canned or losing their job.

All F/T hourly Investigators are overworked and burn out by about three years into this “profession”. I use the term profession lightly as I consider this more of a job than a profession unless you become an Independent Contractor, then the upgrade to a profession can be attained.

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I’d also consider waiting until after June when the contract rebid is awarded as only two of the three vendors will remain active and there’s a chance Paragon could be the odd man out.

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“Run like hell in the opposite direction.” You called it.

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Run like hell in the opposite direction.

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Thanks for the replies folks. Disappointing, yet also expected to hear. This is a common trend in the workforce everywhere these days. It’s all about working someone as hard as possible (running all over them), but paying them as little as possible. It’s disgusting treatment. My gut told me to pass on this job and I just wanted some confirmation on that from guys/gals who have actually done it. It’s a shame because from the outside looking in, it seems like it would be a really cool gig. Sounds like I would just be better off chasing an IT cert or two.

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Starting salary is actually decent and higher than what I would expect for GA.

However I believe everyone in the industry will tell you the exact same thing….run for the hills! LOL

There is no stability especially now with the contract rebid within the next couple months. This job is stressful and has been for me for the last 8-9 years. The only reason I have not left yet is the only PRO this job has to offer…the unmatched flexibility.

I would only take this job if your life requires the flexible schedule like mine does.

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Wow, I didn’t know starting pay was that high! I have been doing this job for 18 years and my pay is $54,000. I think it’s time to ask my section lead what the hell that is about.

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Or change companies. Peraton has levels rhat go up to 80s I believe and Paragon is very generous…
…disclaimer: Paragon miraculously got out of giving SCA leave so you would lose all weeks of vaca unless you can negotiate before hire. I lost 7.38 weeks of vaca per year because I assumed they all legally had to pay SCA…oops

How is this possible? Peraton as part of the DCSA contract is required to be pay its contractors and employees as part of the SCA. This doesn’t make sense.

On another note, if you are a Level 6 Investigator earning 70K to $80K at Peraton, I can only imagine your metric requirements and your lack of free time and extra curricular activities with balancing a 50 hour work week while getting paid for 40 in order to get all of your work done.

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They got taken to the labor board and won… supposedly because they are a new company making them exempt from the SCA Law. Total bull crap. Supposedly new companies arent required to participate in SCA leave.

The company not paying SCA is not Peraton per your previous reply. The company not paying SCA is Paragon.

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yeah, that’s what I figured. I can’t even meet level 3 metrics working an honest 40 hour work week, so it seems to me that in order to meet levels/pay of 3-4-5-6 you would have to be working off the clock and sacrificing your life. No thank you and shame on those who consistently cheat to have great numbers.

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In my opinion, the biggest challenge with this job is the repetitiveness. You will be assigned a boatload of cases and work your butt off to get them in by the due date. Before you have time to exhale and pat yourself on the back for all the work you did, you’re assigned another boatload of cases. Rinse, wash, repeat. Some people can handle that type of work and more power to them, I just can’t do it anymore, and that’s why I’m on my way out.

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If you choose to take the job it will be the worst job you will ever work.

It is soul sucking. It will destroy your mental vitality and acuity. It will ruin your physical health. It will vitiate your personal life.

Worst of all is these aforementioned things will directly affect any future job and career so the damage done could be irreparable. It is so not worth it for a job that pays between what a 32-hour/week Instacart shopper and Amazon driver makes.

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I wouldn’t base you’re taking this job off of what users comment on here. Most of the people who comment are burned out and cynical about this job. There are 1000s of other investigators who still enjoy this job and are not totally burned out, I am one of them.

  • Depending on where you live in GA will more than likely depend on what your coverage area is. That is a question you can ask the recruiter or your potential supervisor, if you interview with them. I went from a metro area, where I was able to take the public transportation to a rural area with a 100 mile radius. So yes, I put miles on the car. You’ll submit expense reports with your mileage and get paid whatever the going federal mileage rate is…around .55/mile (i forget what it is exactly).

  • Yes, there is job security. Regardless of who wins the rebid, the companies on the contract will still need investigators. There are also multiple contracts, all need investigators. With that being said, if this isn’t the job for you, there will not be job security because what you transmit and the quality of your work is closely monitored. So basically if you’re not good at the job, you’ll be put on a performance improvement plan, and ultimately fired if you can’t cut it. You’ll be given tools/mentor to do the job.

  • You will need to keep a daily log of your time (and mileage) and enter it on a timecard. You can be audited at any time and will have to show how you spent your day. You’re time on your computer is also monitored so they’ll know when you log in/off

  • 50K is good and once you get promoted, you’ll get a raise

  • This job is not for everyone. If you want recognition, low stress, and want to move up in the career into management etc… this is not the position. If you don’t want the gov’t knowing everything about you, if you don’t like following 1000s of pages of guidance - not the job for you. You will have days where you want to bang your head against the wall and quit. There are times where it is stressful - your first year will be horrible. If you want a job with a flexible schedule, work independently, and have the potential to get paid pretty decent in low cost of living area, not want to be a supervisor, then this is a good job.

Make sure you understand all of the benefits Paragon is offering now. You won’t be able to start until after your investigation is completed (unless you already hold a TS), and that might not be until after the rebid. Ask questions about the rebid to the recruiter and what that would mean for your investigatin.

I agree with the duetooversight who said to find a mentor to bounce questions off of. Your teammates and investigators you go through training with will be your support, there will be weeks you will talk to them multiple times a day. It is very solitary, especially with a lot of work being conducted from home.

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50K is good

Perhaps in 1990. For a non-professional.

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I think saying 1000s still happy is a bit of an overestimate. As someone who has being doing this job for almost two decades, I have seen the turnover and I have yet to hear an investigator say they missed the job once they left it. Quite the opposite the main thing I hear is they wish they would have quit sooner and their life has improved, stress levels went down after leaving the job. I absolutely hate the job and the only reason I am still doing it is because of the flexibility of making your own schedule. That, to me, is the only benefit.

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