How to Become a Private Investigator in Montana

become a private investigator in montana

If you’re looking for a career in Montana with a lot of excitement and tremendous opportunity, a perfect choice is becoming a private investigator. Private investigation will be a growth profession over the next ten years, particularly in Montana where there are relatively few people in this career. Working as a private investigator requires you to gather information requested by your clients by using advanced investigation skills.

To become a Montana private investigator, you will first need to meet the requirements maintained by the Board of Private Security, which includes extensive work experience.

How to Become a Private Investigator in Montana

Minimum Requirements

  • Age: You must be over the age of 21 to work as a private investigator in Montana.
  • Provisional Qualifications: Only US citizens or permanent residents can become private investigators in Montana. Also, you need to be able to provide three character references from people who are not related to you.
  • Applicant Background: You must be willing to submit to a criminal background check to work as a Montana PI.
  • Military Discharge: If you’ve been dishonorably discharged from the military, you are not eligible to be licensed as a PI in Montana.
  • Financial Standing: There is no financial background check required for licensure.
  • Mental Health: The mental health of applicants is not examined prior to licensure.
  • Insurance: You must be able to acquire at least $500,000 of general liability insurance to be licensed as a private investigator.
  • Automatic Disqualifications: Anyone who has been convicted of a felony or is addicted to alcohol or narcotics is barred from becoming a licensed private investigator.

Education and Experience

  • Education/Experience: Applicants must have at least a high school diploma. Additionally, three years, or 5,400 hours, of education/work experience is required for licensure. Education can only be used for half of the three-year requirement, meaning you must have worked for at least a year and a half as a private investigator.
  • Written Exams: When the Board of Private Security has approved your application, you will be able to take the licensing exam. The exam covers Montana laws related to private investigation. The Board considers 70% to be a passing grade.

Montana PI Training Courses

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy offers a basic course that is useful for private investigators and can be used to complete six-months of the work requirement. Many private investigators in Montana also choose to complete degrees in related disciplines like law, criminal justice, computer forensics and investigative techniques.

Forms needed for Detective License in Montana

  • Private Investigator Fees: The application fee for a Montana private investigator license is $250 and the exam fee is $20. You will also be required to pay $27.50 for fingerprinting. If you are also applying for a firearm endorsement, there is an additional $50.
  • Registration: In the application you submit to the Board, you must include a copy of your driver’s license, proof of US citizenship or your immigration status, a copy of your high school diploma or GED, proof of three years’ experience, liability insurance verification and a passport photograph. After approval, you will take the exam, and if you pass, you will receive your license.
  • Renewal: You will be notified 60 days before your license is set to expire. Once you receive notification, you can apply for renewal.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Salaries

Montana has one of the lowest populations of private investigators in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were only 50 PIs working in Montana in 2015. However, pay for Montana investigators was very competitive, with the average salary for this profession being $47,810.

Resources for Aspiring Private Investigators

Montana Law Enforcement Academy Basic Course

Montana Board of Private Security

Montana Association of Private Investigators and Security Operators