My last day as an investigator

My first year as an investigator

My second year as an investigator

My last day as an investigator

Welp, the time has come, my last day as an investigator. Sideshowbob’s saga has come to and end.

Crazy to think that it’s already been almost 3 years since I started scouring this forum seeking answers to my questions about being an investigator.

That is why I’m writing this post, so I could share my experiences with those who are looking to get into this field eventually.

It’s been a unique experience, this is one of the jobs where you’re given some training and then just cut loose into the wild.

No office to go to, no set schedule, spending an entire afternoon in your undies, or on the road, every day has been different.

I’m currently staring at a rather large stack of business cards that I’ve accrued over the last 2 and a half years. Each one a little trophy of sorts.

It’s just crazy to think about all the people I’ve interviewed, from rocket scientists to actual delta force dudes and everything in between, I definitely learned a lot.

What I liked about the job:

Work from home/Setting your own schedule (no brainer)

Travel (I’ve been on quite a few TDY assignments in other states and I’ve been able to catch up with old friends and family that I haven’t seen in 10+ years).

Meeting really interesting people, some of them not so interesting.

Management was good (at least for me).

Pay and expense reimbursements were always on time.

What I disliked about the job:

Case reopens. The bane of every investigators existence. The worst part is, there are times where I would submit a case, and months would go by and I’m sitting here thinking everything must have been good to go, then BAM, that case gets sent back to me, 6 months after I sent it in.

Definitely annoying. It just sucked always feeling like you were doing something wrong.

On the few times I actually used vacation days, it was hard to relax knowing there would be reopens waiting for me as soon as I got back.

Why I’m leaving:

I haven’t had a raise in 2.5 years. I’ve been a level 1 this whole time. Even while producing at a level 2 - 3, I was never able to move up in levels because my “quality metric” was never good enough, I couldn’t get promoted unless I maintained quality above 85% for 3 consecutive months.

Even if I had two months above 85% and one at 84%, it still didn’t matter. I should have tried harder I guess.

I stopped caring and stressing about it after a while and just went back to producing the bare minimum for a level 1, especially after the bonus structure was modified and I went from receiving $1500 - $3000 per quarter to basically nothing.

Despite being a field trainer, completing numerous TDY assignments and working on 4 other contracts aside from DCSA, I still couldn’t land that level increase. I’m not trying to come off as disgruntled, I just really put in a lot work but couldn’t manage to get the pay to match.

Even before COVID-19 the workload was sparse, the future of this industry is too uncertain to consider staying.

The last two weeks there hasn’t been enough work, to the point where they have been forcing people to use PTO, just wasn’t worth worrying about.

I found a better opportunity in the security department for a local DoD contractor. Well, I don’t know if it will be better, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

I told myself that I would avoid an office job like the plague, but here we are. The new position pays a lot more than I’m making now, so I’ll suck it up and be grateful.

For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an investigator, I even loved it at times. I just couldn’t deal with the low pay anymore and the uncertainty regarding the future of the industry.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Best of luck to all the other investigators on here


Office jobs are where the security is. And you have a lot more power and say than a field grunt investigator will ever dream of.

Good move on your part.


Good luck sideshowbob! This industry is changing rapidly and it is probably a good time to exit. With all the video interviews being kick into high gear, we can kiss TDY goodbye for sure and probably a whole lot of in person work as well. There is just too much money to be saved by DoD.

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I’m both sad and happy for you. I’m on the verge of leaving. Extremely troubled by the utter lack of appreciation. I completely understand that point of no longer trying hard for advancement.

Hope you will continue posting - best wishes for future success!

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Good move Sideshow Bob. You will find out very quickly that there are no such things as reopens in a real job!

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Congratulations, sideshowbob! I too made the transition out a couple of months ago and haven’t looked back. BI work was a great experience (with it’s downsides like everything else). I do miss the autonomy and flexible schedule, but the pressure to produce both quality and quantity was too overwhelming, especially since metric rankings seemed to be a moving target and a bit far fetched. Enjoy your new adventure, and thank you for sharing your experiences over the years! I enjoyed reading your blogs.

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Good luck, I also left the program after 20 plus years. Start my new job on Tuesday. Same here not even a fax cover sheet scribbled with thanks on it.

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Good luck to you, sideshowbob. Honestly, after 5 months of waiting and doing the required training to have credentials to work on contracts with both ADC LTD and GDIT as a IC, I am considering leaving the industry and moving on to working as a PI. I’m already training with one of the local PIs here and my security guard job, which I’ve had for the past six months, wants to bump me up to full-time hours by doing temp screenings at the site I’m posted at once D.C. starts phase one of returning people back to work. I’m going to suck it up, even though it’s a half-baked idea by my supervisor to keep me there (even though I was only hired to be an on-call officer.) I need the money and I can’t stand the fact that there’s no way of expediting credentials at a time like this from either company. It would be ironic if I was two weeks into my new full-time shift and they ended up sending them in the mail…but I digress. I understand the impact that the pandemic has taken on everything, but as many people have said about the industry, it’s in a decline and it just feels like I’ve been duped.


Honestly being a PI would be a good move. There is never a lack of work in that field, especially if you can be good at surveillance and produce quality footage.

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Yeah I definitely see a lot of the in person work being gone even after COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted (if ever). Since March all of my work was done by phone and I didn’t have a single issue with anyone willing to be interviewed by phone without wanting to verify my credentials in person. There were maybe 2 - 3 people that were skeptical, but they still went through with the interviews after calling my companies security dept and verifying my identity. I’m sure all of the companies are happy to not be paying out countless amounts of mileage reimbursement as well

Yep. The man teaching my class said this, too. I’m looking forward to working in this field a lot!

Understood. Thanks much for contributing knowledge. Pop back up on the FSO side after you get in place. Offering Investigator perspective is huge.

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Good luck to you! I’ve been considering a job with the bureau in the security department in order to get my foot in the door there. I agree that an investigator perspective would be great on that side of things.

i can’t even count the number of times I come across a subject who was given ridiculously wrong instructions for the form by their security office. Drives me nuts! Hopefully knowledge of this side of things will lend well to a role in that side.

Good luck!!

Bob, can you answer a question for a newbie about past employment manager interviews?
In such a situation, or alternatively, in a situation where the supervisor information I provide, refers the investigator to HR as a matter of policy (this is common, for instance Walmart has such a policy), what is the investigator apt to do–ask for another contact at the company, get me to sign more release forms, or just move on to the next employment listing on sf86 tier five?

This is a very important question to me, as I am approaching the cut off age for the position and I have several problems with past supervisors like this

It’s pretty common for companies to have a policy prohibiting employees from being interviewed. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. The investigator is required to make attempts either way. If they’re told no then there’s not much they can do. I wouldn’t worry too much about it impacting your investigation in a negative way since it’s a pretty common policy. I can’t speak for every investigator, but a diligent one will definitely try to exhaust all reasonable efforts before moving on.

Thank you, that is helpful. In such cases, would the investigator want a co-worker? I know that about four of my past employers in the last seven years (I changed jobs a lot in a competitive health profession) do not answer any questions on the INV forms, but I am not sure about phone calls or in person interviews.

Thank you for your reply. In the case of a tier five investigatoin that requires in person interviews with managers and others, would this change your response and in what ways? Thanks!

Why do you continue your MO of asking too many questions? Let the process play out as it will and as it should.


Because he is desperately trying to figure out how he can control the investigation and keep the investigator from trying to find whatever he doesn’t want found.


Life is pretty complex and has too many variables to roll the dice, particularly for a year-long process like this with massive opportunity costs. From your profile, Harpoon, it says you are an investigator, it is okay if I can get your expert opinion on this matter? That would be helpful and constructive. I respect any insight into this matter. If you are unwilling to convey advice on a clearance forum, please allow other posters to contribute. Thank you for your time.

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