Many officers now working in Montana began their law enforcement careers in other states. As a certified peace officer, you may be eligible to work as a public safety officer in Montana without having to retake basic training.
Jobs in Montana
While there is no statewide information available on the annual rate of job openings for Montana’s many law enforcement agencies, attendance rates at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy provide an estimate of the number of new officers hired each year.
- Three 12-week Law Enforcement Basic Courses are held annually, graduating approximately 130 new officers each year. Most of these officers have already been hired by a law enforcement agency.
- Five to 10 individuals each year attend the Academy as “pre-service” students. These men and women complete their training on their own time and at their own expense to improve their chance of being hired.
- About 30 officers each year complete the Legal Equivalency Basic Course at the Academy. Most of these individuals completed their basic training in another state.
Salaries in Montana
The starting salaries for Montana public safety officers range from approximately $22,000 to $35,000 a year, depending on the agency.
In order to meet equivalency in Montana:
- your state’s POST training records must be reviewed by the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council, and
- you must not have had a break in service that exceeds five years from your date of hire in Montana.
Equivalency Testing and Training
After being hired by an agency in Montana, out-of-state officers must complete all components of equivalency testing and training within their first year of employment. To initiate equivalency testing, you and your department training officer must contact POST and arrange to have your training record reviewed.
If POST finds that you are eligible for equivalency, both you and the Academy will be notified by POST. It is your responsibility to contact the Academy to get registered for the next Legal Equivalency Course.
To maintain powers of arrest, officers trained out of state must complete all components of the Legal Equivalency Basic Course within their first year of initial appointment as a peace officer in Montana (Section 7-32-303 of the Montana Code Annotated).
Equivalency is a four-step process:
- Eligibility – Establish your eligibility for certification through the POST Council.
- Legal Basic Equivalency Course – Complete all aspects of the Academy’s Legal Basic Equivalency Course, which includes orientation, classroom training, firearms qualification and a final examination.
- Agency Probation Period – Complete the required 12-month agency probation period.
- POST Certification – Submit an Application for Award of Certificate, signed by an agency administrator and with all required attachments.
Remember, your knowledge of general law enforcement practice and procedures will be examined. If you fail, you will have to retake basic training in Montana to be certified.
You should also be aware of the following:
- Part-time law enforcement officers must be certified to the same standards as full-time officers.
- Police chiefs are subject to all certification requirements and guidelines.
Hiring and the Certification Process
Since there is no central file for local job announcements in Montana, you must make direct contact with the agency you would like to work for. It is your obligation to meet any established application deadlines and requirements for open positions.
You may refer to these websites:
- Montana Association of Chiefs of Police (MACOP)
- Montana Police Protective Association (MPPA)
- Montana Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association (MSPOA)
- Montana Law Enforcement Testing Consortium
- State Job Listings
The certification process for law enforcement officers in Montana begins only after an individual has been hired. As an officer with out-of-state training, you must be hired by a Montana law enforcement agency before you can obtain a Montana Basic Certificate.
By reviewing these guidelines and staying in direct contact with the criminal justice hiring agencies in the jurisdictions where you would like to relocate, you may improve your likelihood of finding employment as a law enforcement officer. As elsewhere in the United States, law enforcement in Montana is a demanding occupation. If you are willing to dedicate your efforts towards long hours and hard work under difficult conditions, your application will be welcome in Montana.