Oregon Bounty Hunter Guide: Requirements and Steps

Oregon is home to 3.9 million people, up from 3.8 million in 2010.1 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 they may be “conditionally released,” meaning no funds are required for him or her to post bail. Like bounty hunters, private investigators use their skills, interviewing techniques, and research to locate information (or people) for their client. If you have an interest in investigation, you should consider becoming a private investigator (PI). In Oregon, private investigators 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.

Requirements for Prospective Private Investigators in Oregon

Private investigators must meet certain standards before being eligible to apply for licensure with the Oregon Department of Safety. Those requirements state 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 education or experience in the field to be issued a license; a provisional investigator may be licensed without education (or experience) but 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 $620.75 fee*, 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

*Fees are current as of May 2016.

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 orientation and exam calendar to decide on your exam date. The exam has 50 questions and is open book (the Department will provide you with the information needed to take the exam). The PI proficiency exam will cover information from Oregon’s Administrative Rules and Oregon’s Revised Statute. You must score 86% or higher in order to pass. You may take the exam up to three times within one year and you will receive an email with your final score.

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 30 hours of continuing education (CE) and private investigators must have 38 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 $620.75 (as of May 2016).

Related Careers

Individuals who work as bounty hunters or 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 obtain 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, social problems and solutions, and it should improve your decision-making and critical thinking skills. By having 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

Lane Community College
4000 E 30th Ave
Eugene, OR 97405

Mt Hood Community College
26000 SE Stark St
Gresham, OR 97030

Umpqua Community College
1140 Umpqua College
Roseburg, OR 97470

Finding Work

Private investigators should have a plan of 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 should also join a local PI association to build your professional investigator network.

Featured Private Detective Agencies in Oregon

Here are some private investigator agencies in Oregon, chosen because they are based in larger cities, are highly-rated, or are well-known.

221B Investigations
1816 SE 11th Ave 221B
Portland, OR 97214

Beacon Investigative Solutions
724 Hawthorne Ave NE
Salem, OR 97301

Christopher J Kane PC
2207 NE Broadway St
Portland, OR 97232

Girl Friday Investigator
11575 SW Pacific Hwy
Ste 179
Portland, OR 97223

Hustead & Associates Investigative Services, LLC
960 Broadway St NE
Ste 4
Salem, OR 97301

Mason Legal Investigations LLC
341 State St
Salem, OR 97301

Northwest Investigations & Consulting
8305 SE Monterey Ave
Portland, OR 97086

1001 SW 5th Ave
Ste 1100
Portland, OR 97204

PI Services LLC
4550 SW Betts
Ste 157
Beaverton, OR 97005

Bounty Hunter 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 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are 260 private investigators employed in Oregon and they earn an annual average salary of $42,690.2,3 Projections show that between 2012 and 2022, jobs for private investigators will increase by 18%, equating to 10 additional job openings per year.2

City or Metropolitan AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WAN/A*$42,330

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.
*Estimates not released by the BLS. 2

Additional Resources

The resource listed below should help you in your search to find work as a private or provisional investigator in Oregon.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Oregon: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/OR/PST045219
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Oregon: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm