An investigative specialist position in law enforcement is typically considered an exciting job, but various duties are required. For example, the typical investigative specialist job description requests that applicants know how to perform surveillance operations, including using various types of recording devices. Investigative specialists also should be able to use paper documents as evidence, which may require spending a lot of time in the office or at the library. Specialists of this type, however, also should be prepared to gather evidence outside the office, such as during undercover investigations.
Among the most common investigative specialist duties are performing surveillance and analyzing any evidence gathered during that surveillance. This may involve strategically setting up video cameras or wire taps in areas likely to catch proof for a case. Handling such surveillance often is considered an important task, because law enforcement officials usually rely on hard evidence, such as recordings, to pursue a case in court. Therefore, if recording devices are not set up properly and then thoroughly examined or analyzed, then a suspect may avoid prosecution because of lack of proof. For this reason, two of the main investigative specialist requirements are obtaining and analyzing evidence using electronic devices.
Despite the regular use of technology, an investigative specialist also should be comfortable using paper records to find evidence. This may involve going to the library to perform research or looking through boxes of old records that have not yet been entered into a computer. The typical investigative specialist also may have to examine paperwork related to the case, such as tax documents, old letters or printouts of computer files. The person in this position should be able to realize whether the information he comes across during the investigation is worth noting as evidence or is unrelated to the case and, therefore, useless.
An investigative specialist typically cannot spend all his time in an office, because he usually has to go out in the field to look for evidence regarding a particular case. This type of specialist tends to focus on one case at a time while investigating, so he may follow one suspect in particular rather than keeping an eye out for any wrongdoing, the way a police officer might. In many cases, this requires staying undercover and trying to blend into his surroundings to avoid arousing suspicion from the suspect. Being out in the field often involves working odd hours, so this usually is not the job for someone who likes a predictable daytime work schedule.