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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Montana

To become a licensed private investigator in Montana, you must meet a number of requirements and complete specific steps:

Meet Minimum License Requirements in Montana
Meet Experience and Education Requirements for Licensure in Montana
Apply for your Private Investigator License in Montana
Sit for Montana’s Examination for Private Investigators
Qualify for a Firearms Endorsement in Montana
Get to Work in Montana
Maintain your Montana License

The Montana Board of Private Security Officers and Investigators, which operates through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, regulates and licenses private investigators, as well as private investigator trainees.



Step 1. Meet Minimum License Requirements in Montana

Before applying for a license as a private investigator in Montana, you must first ensure you meet the minimum requirements for licensure, as set forth by the Montana Board of Private Security Officers and Investigators:

  • You must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • You must be at least 21 years old.
  • You must be a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States.
  • You must have no felony convictions or convictions involving more turpitude or the illegal use or possession of a dangerous weapon.
  • You must have no dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military.
  • You must not suffer from alcohol or narcotics addition or dependence.
  • You must be willing to undergo a background investigation and fingerprint check by the Montana Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation



Step 2. Meet Experience and Education Requirements for Licensure in Montana

You must possess at least 3 years of education or experience before you can apply for a private detective license in Montana.  You may qualify for licensure through a combination of experience, education and training, but education and training cannot exceed one-half of the experience required. You may meet the experience qualification through the following activities:

  • Employed as a private investigator or held a security of authority to conduct a private investigation business
  • Employed as an investigator, detective, special agent, or peace officer of a local, county, state or federal government

Many individuals seeking careers as private investigators often first pursue a degree program in criminal justice, public administration, sociology, or a similar field as to obtain knowledge in the criminal justice system and achieve professional recognition and advancement.

If you qualify through a combination of experience and education, you must be able to provide proof of your education through the submission of transcripts, diplomas, seminar certificates, course completion certificates, or similar documentation.



Step 3. Apply for Private Investigator License in Montana

Once you have determined that you meet all of the necessary requirements for licensure, you must apply for a private investigator license by completing the Application for Private Investigator and submit the following documents:

  • $250 application fee* (or $150 application fee* for a private investigator trainee)
  • $20 examination fee*
  • Proof of commercial general liability insurance (which includes personal injury and errors and omission coverage) of at least $500,000
  • A passport-style photograph
  • Copy of driver’s license or birth certificate for proof of age
  • Copy of birth certificate or U.S. passport or immigration card for proof of citizenship or permanent legal residency
  • Copy of diploma or GED certificate
  • At least three references not related by blood or marriage
  • Copy of DD-214 (if you served in the military)
  • Proof of education/experience
  • Copy of current firearms certificate (if applicable)

*Check or money order made payable to the Montana Board of Private Security

The Board will mail you fingerprint cards, a self-addressed envelope, and instructions for obtaining your fingerprints. You can obtain your fingerprints from most local enforcement agencies. Once you have your fingerprints completed, you must send the completed card and a check and money order for $27.25 (made payable to the Montana Department of Justice) to:

Montana Criminal Records
303 North Roberts
Post Office Box 201403
Helena, Montana 59620



Step 4. Sit for Montana’s Examination for Private Investigators

Once your application has been approved by the Board, you can expect to receive a letter qualifying you to sit for the private investigator examination, which includes information on Montana laws and regulations regarding the private investigation business.

You may take the exam at the Board’s office in Helena or at a local job service location. You must contact the Board to notify them of the location where you will be taking the exam at least one week prior to your scheduled exam date.



Step 5. Qualify for a Firearms Endorsement in Montana

If you will carry a firearm as a private detective, you must achieve a firearms endorsement through the State of Montana, which includes completing a Board-approved firearms training course, applying for the endorsement by completing an online application, and paying the $50 application fee.

Note: You must first be licensed as a private investigator in the State of Montana before you can apply for a firearms endorsement, and you must maintain your license to maintain your firearms endorsement.



Step 6. Get to Work in Montana

Once you have successfully completed the examination, you will receive your license as a private investigator in Montana. You may choose to join a professional association, such as the Montana Association of Private Investigators (no active website found) or the United States Association of Professional Investigators, or obtain professional certification through an association such as ASIS International, which offers the Professional Certified Investigator designation for private investigators with at least 5 years of experience.



Step 7. Keep Your Montana License Current

To maintain your private investigator license in Montana, you must renew your license on an annual basis and pay the renewal fee of $175. You can complete your renewal online.

If you have a firearms endorsement, you must also renew that on an annual basis and pay the renewal fee of $50.



Private Investigator Salary Information for Montana

Private investigators in Montana earned an average annual salary of $43,900 in 2012 based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  More experienced investigators earning top salaries earned $70,460 a year on average in the state.

To become a private investigator or private detective in Montana, the state requires a license from the Montana Board of Private Security Patrol Officers and Investigators.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old.  They will have to submit proof that they have 5,400 hours (three years) of investigative experience and that they have liability insurance.

An examination is also required to become a PI in Montana.  Private investigators that want to be armed have to complete a firearms training program that has been approved by the Board.

Slightly more than a third of private investigators are self-employed.  Those who work for companies often work for state and local governments, along with the following services:

  • Investigative and security
  • Legal
  • Business Support

The types of work carried out by private investigators includes:

  • Conducting background checks for law enforcement agencies
  • Helping insurance companies or lawyers with cases such as insurance fraud or personal injury
  • Investigating people in divorces that are being disputed
  • Investigating schemes such as billing fraud for corporations
  • Gathering financial data about companies or people
  • Preparing loss prevention reports for store managers
  • Helping defense attorneys prepare their cases
  • Investigating if employees are stealing from retail stores or large firms

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