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Becoming a Public Safety Officer

Hiring Process

For individuals interested in becoming Montana public safety officers, there are many career choices to consider, including:

  • Deputy Sheriff
  • Police Officer
  • County Coroner
  • County Detention Officer
  • Public Safety Communicator
  • State Corrections Officer
  • State Probation & Parole Officer
  • Montana Highway Patrol Trooper
  • Montana Game Warden
  • Motor Carrier Services Officer
  • Misdemeanor Probation Officer
  • Pretrial Services Officer
  • Reserve Officer

For further information on starting a career as a public safety officer in Montana, contact the specific agency you would like to work for. Officers working in other states should read the Guidelines for Out-of-State Officers.

Minimum Qualifications

All public safety officer positions have minimum requirements established by Montana law and the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council.

An applicant:

  • must be a citizen of the United States
  • must be at least 18 years of age
  • must be fingerprinted and subject to a background check to disclose any criminal records
  • may not have been convicted of a crime for which he or she could have been imprisoned in a federal or state penitentiary
  • must be of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation
  • must be a high school graduate or have passed the general education development test and have been issued an equivalency certificate by the superintendent of public instruction, an appropriate issuing agency, another state or the federal government
  • must meet any additional qualifications established by the POST Council

In addition, Montana law requires that individuals seeking employment as peace officers – deputy sheriffs, undersheriffs, police officers, highway patrol officers, fish and game wardens, park rangers, campus security officers or airport police officers – have a medical exam conducted by a licensed physician appointed by the employing agency.

Once you are employed as a public safety officer, you have one year from the date of your initial appointment to attend the appropriate Basic course at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy. (see Attorney General’s Opinion)


Under MCA 7-32-303, the POST Council may extend the one-year time requirement for attending the applicable Basic course upon the written application of the public safety officer and his or her appointing authority. The application must explain the circumstances that make the extension necessary. Factors the POST Council may consider in granting or denying the extension include, but are not limited to:

  • illness of the public safety officer or a member of his or her immediate family
  • absence of reasonable access to the Basic course or the Legal training course
  • an unreasonable shortage of personnel within the department

The POST Council may not grant an extension that exceeds 180 days (Attorney General’s Opinion 48-22). After 180 days, if the officer does not meet the basic certification requirements, the officer “forfeits the position, authority and arrest powers accorded a peace officer in this state.”

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