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Private Investigator Licensing and Proficiency Exams


One requirement for becoming a private investigator in the state of Oregon is passing a Proficiency Exam issued by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). But how does one prepare and study for this test? On the DPSST Private Security/Investigator division’s website, an FAQ page explains the ins and outs of PI licensing. Under the PI exam section, it says:

“The proficiency exam is…an open book exam and all resource materials will be provided for you. You will be provided copies of Oregon Revised Statute (ORS 703.401-703.995) and Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR 259 Division 61) which are relevant to the exam. You are not allowed to use any of your own materials during the exam. You have up to three opportunities to pass this exam with a minimum of 86%.

The exam also covers statutes that PI’s need to be aware of while conducting investigations in Oregon. Feel free to research the following statutes prior to your exam date. (ORS Chapter 9, 40, 135 and 161-167)

The orientation and exam typically takes all day, so please plan accordingly. The first three to four hours of the day will be spent covering general licensing requirements and standards. The exam will directly follow the orientation.”

A telephone call to DPSST confirmed that there are no specific print or electronic pre-testing materials that they know of. In addition, a look at both Multnomah County and Washington County public library catalogs indicate few relevant resources available other than general titles on the private investigator profession.

DPSST recommended that a person intending to take the exam primarily study the Oregon Revised Statutes and the Oregon Administrative Rule specified above. They stated that, depending on a tester’s previous experience, the exam may take anywhere from 2 – 5 hours to complete.

The State of Oregon’s Licenses, Permits, and Regulations division also provides some information on both the provisional and private investigator licensing process:

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