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

    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

    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 Rd
    Roseburg, OR 97470

    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

    Bona Fide Investigations LLC
    1236 Disk Dr
    Ste C
    Medford, OR 97501

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

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

    Mason Legal Investigations LLC
    341 State St
    Salem, OR 97301

    NBG Investigation Group & Notary
    205 SW Hwy 101
    Ste B
    Waldport, OR 97394

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

    PDX PI
    1001 SW 5th Ave
    Ste 1100
    Portland, OR 97204

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

    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

    Additional Resources

    Joining a professional association can 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/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