When the subject of work comes up at social gatherings, Gretchen Schulz is used to taking a turn as the center of attention. “People say, ‘You’re a private investigator? I can’t believe that,’ ” says Ms. Schulz, owner of Schulz Investigative Service in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
The perceived glamour is part of the appeal of the business. For private eyes who are self-employed, like Ms. Schulz, the lure of independence and freedom from oversight is a powerful draw. One-third of the 48,000 private detectives in the U.S. are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ms. Schulz went to work as a secretary for a private detective in 1993 and eventually began doing investigative work. Three years ago, she became a licensed private investigator and opened her own firm.
One benefit is the flexibility of being her own boss. “I like the fact that I can come and go as I want,” she says. “I can take a week off if I want to go to the Bahamas.” She also enjoys the variety of work. “Every case is different, and every situation is different,” she says.