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Oregon Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Oregon is home to 4.2 million people.1 Because Oregon prohibits commercial bail bonding, the bounty hunting profession is also prohibited. To be released on bail in Oregon, a defendant must post 10% of the bond amount or be “conditionally released,” meaning no bail posting is required. However, the state does allow private investigations. Like bounty hunters, private investigators (PIs) use their interviewing and research skills to locate information (or people) for their clients. If you have an interest in investigations, you might consider becoming a PI. In Oregon, PIs must be licensed by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). Keep reading to understand the requirements and process for licensure, which is detailed below.

Table of Contents
Private Investigator Requirements
Steps to a Career
Related Careers
Training and Education Options
Finding Work
Salary and Job Outlook
Private Investigator Resources

Requirements for Prospective Private Investigators in Oregon

Private investigators must meet certain standards before being eligible to apply for licensure with the DPSST. The requirements are that applicants must:

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Be a US citizen or resident alien
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

Steps to a Career as a Private Investigator in Oregon

Once the initial requirements have been satisfied, you can apply for a license as a provisional investigator or private investigator. A private investigator must have 1,500 hours of related work experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience in the field. Those who do not meet this requirement may apply for a provisional investigator license. Those with a provisional license cannot supervise other investigators. Continue reading below for specifics on both licenses.

Provisional Investigator

A provisional investigator will perform the same job functions as a private investigator, but he or she cannot supervise other PIs. By holding a license as a provisional investigator, you can gain the experience necessary to become a private investigator. To receive your license, you will need to:

1. Complete the application.

Provisional investigator applicants must apply to the DPSST. Along with their application, aspiring provisional investigators must submit:

  • The $625.25 fee (as of July 2022), which includes the application, exam, background check, fingerprinting, and license fees
  • A sealed fingerprint card and affidavit from an accepted provider.
  • A signed Investigator Code of Ethics form
  • Three letters of professional reference
  • A surety bond in the amount of at least $5,000
  • Two passport style photographs

You must complete this application prior to taking the licensure examination, but you must identify the date and time that you wish to take the exam in your application packet.

2. Take and pass the PI Proficiency Exam.

The DPSST requires all investigators to pass the PI Proficiency Exam prior to becoming licensed. Review the Exam Information to help you prepare for the online exam. The exam has 50 questions, is open book, and covers information from Oregon’s Administrative Rules and Oregon’s Revised Statute. You must score 86% or higher in order to pass. The DPSST will provide you with the information needed to take the exam after receiving your application. You may retake the exam up to three times within one year.

3. Receive your license.

Once you pass the exam, you will become a licensed provisional investigator. With this license, you can earn the experience needed to become a licensed private investigator and then upgrade your license if you choose.

Provisional investigators must renew their applications every two years and must pay the $550 renewal fee. Your renewal application must include two passport-style photographs, proof of a valid surety bond, a signed Investigator Code of Ethics form, and the Continuing Education Summary form. Provisional investigators must have 40 hours of continuing education (CE) and private investigators must have 32 hours of CE. CE for both investigators must include two CE hours in ethics. There is no limitation on the number of times you can renew your provisional investigator license.

Private Investigator/ Private Detective

In Oregon, a private investigator must follow the same steps for licensure as a provisional investigator (complete an application, take and pass the PI proficiency exam) in addition to completing 1,500 hours of professional investigative experience. You can prove this experience via an updated resume. After submitting this information and passing the exam, you will become a licensed private investigator in the state of Oregon. The fee for licensure for a private investigator was $625.25 as of July 2022.

Related Careers

Individuals who work as private investigators may work in related jobs to gain experience and supplement their income during lulls in employment. Some PIs start off as process servers and continue to serve legal papers throughout their investigation career.

Process Server

A process server files legal papers and serves legal documents to parties involved in a lawsuit. In Oregon, process servers are not required to be licensed, but they must be at least 18 years of age and have Errors and Omissions insurance with at least $100,000 in coverage. Contact your local court for more information or to start serving papers.

Training and Education Options in Oregon

Private investigators must work within the legal system to uncover information for their clients. If you plan on working as a private investigator, you should consider a formal education in criminal justice. A two- or four-year degree in criminal justice can enhance your investigation career by providing you with a better understanding of the legal system while improving your decision-making and critical thinking skills. By having a formal education, you will show potential employers that you take your career seriously. Listed below are some schools in the state that offer associate degrees in criminal justice or a related field.

Central Oregon Community College
2600 NW College Way
Bend, OR 97701
https://www.cocc.edu/programs/criminal-justice/default.aspx

Lane Community College
4000 E 30th Ave
Eugene, OR 97405
https://inside.lanecc.edu/socialscience/criminal-justice

Mt. Hood Community College
26000 SE Stark St
Gresham, OR 97030
https://mhcc.edu/SocialScience/

Umpqua Community College
1140 Umpqua College Rd
Roseburg, OR 97470
https://www.umpqua.edu/find-your-path/human-services-criminal-justice-paralegal

Finding Work

Private investigators should have a plan for securing work after becoming licensed. Private investigators new to the field will need exposure to other investigators and potential clients in order to secure reliable job opportunities. A mentor who is an experienced private investigator or entrepreneur can help you as you embark on your career. You can also join a local PI association to build your professional investigator network.

Featured Private Detective Agencies in Oregon

Here are some top-rated private investigator agencies in Oregon that may help you build a professional network.

Beacon Investigative Solutions
724 Hawthorne Ave NE
Salem, OR 97301
https://www.beaconintlgroup.com

Bona Fide Investigations LLC
1236 Disk Dr
Ste C
Medford, OR 97501
https://bonafide-investigations.com/

Christopher J Kane PC
2207 NE Broadway St
Portland, OR 97232
https://www.ckanelaw.com

Girl Friday Investigator
11575 SW Pacific Hwy
Ste 179
Portland, OR 97223
https://www.girlfridayprivateinvestigator.com

Mason Legal Investigations LLC
341 State St
Salem, OR 97301
https://www.masonpi.com

NBG Investigation Group & Notary
205 SW Hwy 101
Ste B
Waldport, OR 97394
https://www.nbginvestigationgroup.com/

Northwest Investigations & Consulting
8305 SE Monterey Ave
Portland, OR 97086
https://www.nwinvestigation.com

PDX PI
1001 SW 5th Ave
Ste 1100
Portland, OR 97204
https://www.pdxpi.com

PI Services LLC
4550 SW Betts
Ste 157
Beaverton, OR 97005
https://www.pi-info.com

Private Investigator Salary and Outlook in Oregon

To give you a sense of the earning and career growth potential of a private investigator, we look to salary and outlook data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There were an estimated 400 private investigators employed in Oregon as of 2021, with an annual average salary of $78,480.2 The Salem metro area had the third-highest concentration of PIs of any metro area in the US during this time period.3 Projections show that through 2030, jobs for private investigators in Oregon are expected to increase by 8%, with an average of 20 annual openings including replacements.4

City or Metropolitan AreaNumber Employed2Average Annual Salary2
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WAN.Av.$78,860
Salem130$75,460

Additional Resources

Joining a professional association can help you in your search to find work as a private or provisional investigator in Oregon.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Oregon: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/OR/PST045221
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages, Oregon: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Private Detectives and Investigators: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339021.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm