How to Become a Police Officer in Oregon

    People living and working in Oregon enjoy the beautiful natural landscape, from the rugged Pacific coast to the volcanic Cascade Range. Along with bigger cities like Portland and Eugene, Oregon has smaller cities and rural towns, any of which can be great starting points for law enforcement careers. Minimum requirements and training standards for police officers in Oregon are set by the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). Continue reading to learn more about these requirements and specific requirements for major agencies within the state.

    Oregon Police Officer Requirements

    The minimum requirements to be a cop or sheriff’s deputy in Oregon are set by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). The DPSST is responsible for operating the only police training academy in the state and certifying all law enforcement officers. To attend the Oregon Public Safety Academy, recruits must first pass the hiring process at a local department and be offered employment. While each department may have additional standards, the DPSST states that new officers must at a minimum:

    • Be a US citizen or able to obtain citizenship within a reasonable period from hire
    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Not have any felony convictions, convictions pointing to the involvement with illegal drugs, or other disqualifying criminal records
    • Have a high school diploma or GED
    • Pass an academic proficiency test, unless they have a bachelor’s degree
    • Meet statewide physical standards
    • Have monocular vision of at least 20/30 corrected (20/100 uncorrected) and binocular vision of 20/20 corrected

    The DPSST recommends that anyone hoping to be hired by a law enforcement agency in the state have some college experience or a degree, although it is not a basic requirement. The department also suggests that new recruits volunteer with a department before applying for employment.

    “My advice would be for those looking to get into law enforcement, especially those in the 21-25 years of age bracket, is to have some work experience in a customer-service oriented field so that you feel comfortable dealing with a variety of individuals and gain experience on “de-escalating” someone who was not satisfied with the level of service they received. Seek out opportunities to engage and interact with people who is not like them, get out of their comfort zone, and seek to gain an understanding of the vast differences in our community. For the 18- to 20-year-olds who are thinking of a career in law enforcement, live your life in a manner that will not eliminate you from consideration (lawfully, honestly, and with integrity).” – Chief of Police Kathy McAlpine, City of Tigard Police Department

    Oregon Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

    The troopers of the Oregon State Police (OSP) are dedicated to serving the residents of Oregon and supporting local communities throughout the state. New troopers have the opportunity to work toward special positions within the OSP including arson investigator, narcotics detective, or fish and wildlife trooper. New recruits must meet state standards and:

    • Be a US citizen or able to obtain citizenship within 18 months of hire
    • Have a valid driver’s license
    • Have good moral character

    In addition to meeting these minimum requirements, hopeful new troopers must go through a rigorous selection process that includes a written test, a physical fitness test, a background check, a drug screening, and an interview. Oregon state troopers are paid a starting salary of $4,729 per month with regular increases up to the fifth anniversary of hire, at which time the salary is $6,337 per month.1

    Oregon Sheriff Deputy Requirements

    Sheriff’s deputies in Oregon are responsible for patrol duties, corrections duties, and other jobs throughout each county. They support the OSP and local police departments and serve the residents of their communities. To become a deputy in Oregon a new recruit needs to first meet state standards and be hired by a county sheriff’s office. He or she may then attend training at the state academy before becoming a sworn deputy.

    Washington County

    The Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) has jurisdiction over an area that includes the cities of Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, and Cornelius. The WCSO runs its rigorous recruiting process, which typically takes six months per applicant, year-round. Applicants must meet state standards and:

    • Not have any misdemeanor convictions within the past five years
    • Not have any visible or inappropriate tattoos

    The hiring process begins with an application, video evaluation, and a written test. Candidates then go through a background investigation and job shadow during a patrol ride-along. Those who have suitable applications and pass the test are then invited to be interviewed by a panel of three sergeants. Following the interview, the recruit is interviewed by the sheriff before being offered employment.

    Lane County

    Lane County is located in the central, western portion of the state. The county seat, Eugene, is the second-largest city in Oregon. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) hires new recruits to work in corrections and patrol deputies. In order to be considered for a position as a deputy, applicants must meet state standards and:

    • Have a high school diploma or GED, with two years of college preferred
    • Have a valid Oregon driver’s license
    • Have two years of experience working with the public in some capacity
    “Law enforcement is a difficult and challenging “calling” that requires split-second decisions, compassion, and superb people skills. In today’s society we are expected to be probable solvers, mediators, lawyers, mental health professionals, and enforcers of the law. Even with the many new challenges law enforcement face in today’s society, it is still one of the most rewarding, fulfilling “callings” that provides purpose to those who choose this most noble occupation.” – Chief of Police Patrick Ashmore, City of The Dalles Police Department

    Police Departments in Oregon

    From its smallest villages to the bigger cities of Portland and Eugene, Oregon is a diverse state with numerous local police departments. To become a police officer in one of these departments, hopeful new cops need to apply and pass the hiring procedures of a department before attending the state training academy. Be aware that while all candidates must meet state standards for law enforcement officers, cities are free to set additional qualifications that exceed the state minimums.


    Portland is Oregon’s largest city, with a population over 600,000.2 The city is known for its unique and trendy culture and is situated at the scenic confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers at the border with Washington. To work for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), new recruits must pass the rigorous application process. The minimum requirements to be considered include meeting state standards and:

    • Having either 60 college credit hours, experience as a police officer in another state, or two years of experience working in a non-officer capacity at an Oregon law enforcement agency, or another acceptable combination of education and law enforcement or military experience
    • Having an honorable discharge from military service, if a veteran
    • Having a good driving record
    • Not having any body art above the collarbone
    • Not having used marijuana within the past year, nor having any history of more serious drug use or involvement

    The starting salary for Portland police officers is $64,409 per year.2 For more on the PPB, read our comprehensive guide to police careers in Portland.


    As the second-largest city in Oregon, Eugene has a large police force that is always looking for good candidates to join the team. To be considered, new recruits need to apply with the Eugene Police Department (EPD) and pass the rigorous screening process. The EPD requires that candidates meet state minimums. Candidates must also:

    • Have at least three years of post-secondary education and/or experience, such as three years of college study, or three years of working with the public, or some combination thereof
    • Not have any felony convictions at any time, nor any misdemeanor convictions within the past 24 months
    • Be available and willing to work any shifts assigned
    • Have a valid driver’s license with a good driving record
    • Sign a statement agreeing not to use tobacco products while on duty

    While not required, fluency in a language in addition to English, particularly Spanish or American Sign Language, is preferred.


    The Salem Police Department (SPD), which patrols the capital city of Oregon, employs nearly 200 sworn police officers.3 The department has high standards for its officers and sets certain minimal requirements that new recruits must meet in order to be considered for employment. In addition to meeting state standards, new hires must:

    • Have a valid driver’s license
    • Have good communication skills
    • Demonstrate excellent moral character
    • Be willing to work some nights, weekends, and holidays
    • Be able to read and write at a 12th grade level or above

    The starting salary for Eugene police officers is $4,919 per month, which with increases for longevity and special skills can increase to up to $6,458 per month.3

    “Make sure you find the right department for your personality. Different communities and different departments have different cultures and if you land in the wrong one you may fail when you would otherwise succeed in a different agency. Some departments embrace progressive programs and others embrace more established practices. Look at all of this to make the right choice for what you want to do as a police officer.” – Police Chief Tighe O’Meara, Ashland Police Department

    Police Training Academies in Oregon

    Oregon has just one police academy, the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. The only way to attend the academy is to be hired by a police department, sheriff’s office, or the Oregon State Police. The academy is run by the DPSST, which also sets the standards for trainees and instructors.

    The state-of-the-art facility includes new buildings for housing and feeding students. The training academy also has training venues that simulate real-life situations. These include constructed outdoor city streets, a scenario building with a life-sized downtown city street, a patrol vehicle training course, and a full-scale indoor firing range.

    Oregon Police Jobs Outlook

    The number of positions available for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Oregon is expected to grow over the coming years, providing plenty of opportunities for those hoping to work in law enforcement. Between now and 2026 the number of positions is projected to grow by 2.9%, with an expected 380 annual openings statewide (including replacements).4 The current average annual salary for a cop in Oregon is $68,530, which is on the high side of law enforcement salaries in the US.5 With these statistics in mind, Oregon can be considered a great place for a cop to get started in his or her career.

    For more information about current law enforcement openings, take a look at our police jobs board.

    “Law enforcement is one of the most engaging and fulfilling professions in the world. You must enjoy the anticipation of the unknown next second. A centered and resilient moral compass is required with a strong sense of service to all community members. Law enforcement is a career where you possess both a great responsibility and authority, all the while making a real difference in the lives of others. Respect and honor the authority that will be entrusted to you as a guardian of your jurisdiction.” – Chief of Police Jonathan M. Sassaman, Corvallis Police Department

    Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Oregon

    CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary

    Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2018.5

    1. Oregon State Police: https://www.oregon.gov/osp/jobs/pages/Become-a-trooper.aspx
    2. Portland Police Bureau: https://www.portland.gov/police
    3. Salem Police Department: https://www.cityofsalem.net/community/safety/police
    4. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
    5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oregon: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current//oes_or.htm