I interviewed for a part-time job as a federal investigator for a civilian corporation. If hired I will be doing government employee misconduct investigations--mostly administrative--on a contracted basis. I was asked what I might charge, and I really had no idea at the time! I've done some research, but if anyone can give me some more advice I'd appreciate it.
There are a number of sites which could get you in the ballpark – salary.com, glassdoor.com, payscale.com. All you would need to get started is to plug in the job title and location.
I get the impression you will be doing Single Scope Background Investigations on federal employees or applicants requiring a security clearance. If so, you may want to consider subcontracting with the prime on a 1099 as opposed to being a part time employee.
You might consider an approach I’ve used when subcontracting. I have gone to the GSA library to look up the schedules for companies that are on GSA. The schedule will give a price list that identifies what hourly rate they charge the government for a given service. You can extrapolate your rate to be in the 20-40% range. For instance, XYZ Company’s Price list says they charge the government $200 per hour for investigations, the actual amount it may pay its investigators could be in the $40-$80/hr range. Some companies may charge by the case and type, but the methodology for calculating an estimate would be the same.
The good thing about looking at the GSA library is that it lists a lot of information for every contractor that is on the schedule for a given SIN. Here’s the link.
A few things to consider:
1. A few states require that "outside" investigators for employment investigations must be conducted by an Attorney, whereas if they hire you internally, you do not need to be an attorney.
2. State and Federal rules regarding confidentiality or protective privilege over an investigation report differ, as well as between states, for outside investigators.
3. When considering your rate, include an assessment not only of your geographic market rates, your years of experience, but also the legal risk you will incur for the duration of the statute time. Your work as an investigator may be central to influencing employment decisions- which may involve you in lawsuits down the line. The easiest way for a defense attorney to create an opening to sue is to either discredit the "character" of the investigator or the invetigation methods. Make sure you charge enough money to cover ongoing training on your part, and ensure that the client will indemnify you for any associated legal defense costs.
Investigators can range in their charges dramatically- but as you are not an attorney, I would recommend not going over what an attorney would charge. In major metropolitan areas attorney's charge anywhere from $150-700/hour. I would charge a tiered rate- a higher amount for conducting actual interviews, a lower amount for collating evidence and creating an investigation report and for travel. Remember to build in overhead costs. Low-end would be $50/$30 and high end would be $100/$60.
Hope that helps!
Sometimes it helps to do the Jesus Christ version of ask a question for a question. This is a fairly rare type of position and there is no way to guage a fair wage. If it is Administrative the pay would be $18-30 per hour and it sounds like the Employer also does not know what to pay either as it may be a new type of job they created. I suggest you be open-let them know that this is your first civilian job and don't want to use salary as a negating factor. Explain that you would love to get the job and work with them to settle on a middle-ground wage. Send them an email to ask them under what classification the job is listed on their Employee Pay scale. Eg-is it under Admin, IT Specialist, Security, etc. If they are willing to share the pay range with you and I don't see why not, then you can choose the middle $$ amount. If they say the range is between $20-30 per hour with benefits, then you can suggest $25 per hour for starters with a 20% increase after 3-6 months and they may settle for it or for something close. Good luck and don't be afraid. Companies don't want to lose good candidates especially those from the service because service men or women may not have pertinent civilian job skills but what they have are integrity, honesty and reliability or the country would not have hired you! Just know that many job seekers lose out because they are not bold enough to ask the right questions and companies regret not hiring the ones they preferred because they were too rigid in their pay scales!
I went to school at K-State and grew up in that area. You must have been serving at Fort Riley. I have conducted a lot of investigations in corporate America for alleged misconduct. I think the process is similar- get the facts and be fair to all parties. What do you think your time is worth? Figure your hourly rate as a Captain and add 30% since you will be paying your own Social Security and taxes. If the company thinks that is too much, then it's not worth your time. I am happy to discuss in more detail if you would like to.
You could try the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (below) which will tell you the average wages of various occupations. It will also give you wages based on location in the country because wages are higher in large cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, etc. compared with smaller cities and towns.
If you cannot find the exact position, I would choose something close to give you an idea. Then, give the employer a range so that the employer has something to work with. As a contractor, you will most likely be paid an hourly rate (although this is not always the case), so be prepared to give them a range in both hourly and salaried terms.
You might say to them, I am flexible but am looking at a range of $20 to $30 an hour or $41,500 to $62,000 annually. Make sure that the minimum amount is something you can actually live with in case they play hardball and offer you the minimum.
Thank you for your service, and if I can be of further help, please feel free to reach out.
Thank you for your service and for posting your question here. I do not have experience working on a contracted basis myself, but I would encourage you to utilize ACP AdvisorNet's "Community" function to connect with advisors in the government services industry. Any individual who you can identify with experience working on a contracted basis will surely have valuable insight!
You mentioned that you've done some independent research already, but the following links may also be of use:
Please let me know if I can assist further, Timon, and thank you again!
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you!! I've since moved into the candidate investigator pool and received draft terms and conditions from the company. You're advice and guidance is not only appreciated, but truly valuable. It has really allowed me to hone-in on the factors I need to consider for charging an hourly rate.
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