How to Become a Correctional Officer in Montana: Requirements and Training Guide

Have you ever considered a rewarding career in criminal justice? Becoming a correctional officer in Montana offers a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of inmates while ensuring the safety and security of your community. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the steps on how to become a correctional officer in Montana, exploring requirements, training, facilities, and career advancement opportunities.

By learning about the various aspects of this profession, you’ll gain a better understanding of the responsibilities and benefits associated with it. So, let’s embark on this journey to uncover the path towards a fulfilling career in Montana’s correctional system.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Become a correctional officer in Montana by meeting basic requirements, completing training and obtaining certification.

  • Training covers emergency protocols, communication techniques and inmate management.

  • Correctional officers can work at state prisons, county jails or with Montana Correctional Enterprises for salary and benefits such as health coverage & retirement plans.

Montana Correctional Officer Requirements

Starting a career as a correctional officer in Montana requires meeting certain specifications. Applicants need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED

  • Pass a background check and physical exam

  • Have a valid Montana driver’s license

These are the basic requirements for this position, suitable for a high school graduate.

Correctional officers in Montana primarily focus on maintaining a secure environment for inmates and the public while promoting inmate treatment and rehabilitation. Though prior experience in law enforcement or corrections is not mandatory, it can be beneficial. Correctional officers significantly contribute to the Montana Reentry Initiative by ensuring inmates partake in rehabilitation programs, including educational and job skills training.

Application Process and Background Check

The process of becoming a correctional officer in Montana includes the following steps:

  1. Meet the basic requirements

  2. Complete training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy

  3. Obtain POST Basic Certification

  4. Submit an application

  5. Undergo a screening process

The full job description for a correctional officer can be found on the Montana Department of Corrections website or through specific job postings.

During the background check, elements evaluated include criminal records, child/patient/offender abuse registries, and driving records, which may require a valid driver’s license. Note that individuals with a felony conviction are ineligible for the correctional officer position in Montana.

The application process for correctional officers in Montana usually takes over 150 days, requiring patience and perseverance for success.

Training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy

Upon meeting the basic requirements and passing the background check, aspiring correctional officers must undergo training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA). The specific requirements to enter the MLEA for correctional officer training include completing the applicable basic course within one year of employment and participating in training at the MLEA within the first year of employment. Physical fitness requirements might also be necessary for acceptance into and continued training at the academy.

The duration of the basic training course at the MLEA can vary, with the range being from 80 to 504 hours. This training covers essential topics such as:

  • Basic job requirements

  • Ethics of corrections

  • Laws governing the job

  • The role of corrections officers in the criminal justice system.

Basic Training

The basic training course at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy addresses significant elements of correctional officer duties, including inmate management, emergency protocols, and communication techniques. The length of the Basic Training course ranges from 80 to 504 hours, ensuring that officers are well-prepared to handle their responsibilities.

During the emergency procedures training, the focus is on:

  • Increasing awareness of the department’s capabilities

  • Establishing realistic expectations of emergency response

  • Providing guidance and practical solutions for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergency situations

Although specific details of the inmate management training are not accessible, it is an integral part of the overall training program.

Post Basic Certification

After completing basic training, correctional officers must obtain Post Basic Certification, which focuses on specialized skills and knowledge required for specific correctional officer positions. To achieve Post Basic Certification, officers must possess four years of discipline-specific experience and a total of 200 POST-approved training hours.

The Post Basic Certification provides specialized skills such as:

  • Interpersonal capabilities

  • Communication proficiency with inmates, colleagues, and supervisors

  • The capacity to give instructions to inmates in an authoritative manner

The length of the Post Basic Certification course for Montana correctional officers is four weeks.

Working at Different Facilities in Montana

Upon completion of training and certification, correctional officers in Montana can work at various facilities, including state prisons and county jails. Each facility presents unique challenges and responsibilities for officers, ensuring a dynamic work environment. The primary duties of a correctional officer at a state prison in Montana include maintaining safety and security, enforcing rules and regulations, supervising inmates, responding to emergencies, and documenting incidents and activities.

Working at a county jail in Montana involves managing inmates who are either awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences for less serious offenses. County jails are generally smaller and have a shorter average length of stay for inmates. Regardless of the facility, correctional officers play a vital role in maintaining order and ensuring the well-being of inmates.

Montana State Prison

Montana State Prison, located in the Deer Lodge valley, houses male inmates of varying custody levels, from minimum to maximum security. The prison has a capacity of approximately 1,600 male inmates, requiring a well-trained team of correctional officers to manage the diverse inmate population.

Correctional officers at Montana State Prison are tasked with:

  • Guaranteeing the safety and security of inmates, staff, and visitors

  • Applying modern correctional administration principles to the facilities and programs managed by the Department of Corrections

  • Overseeing inmates who have been convicted of more serious offenses and serving longer sentences.

Montana Women’s Prison

Montana Women’s Prison, in contrast to the Montana State Prison, specifically houses female inmates and offers unique challenges for correctional officers. These challenges may include:

  • Schedule alterations

  • Staffing issues

  • An aging inmate population

  • The oversight of reentry programs

Correctional officers at Montana Women’s Prison also have the opportunity to be involved in innovative programs such as the Prison Paws for Humanity program, where inmates train dogs to be companion animals.

The Prison Paws for Humanity program offers numerous advantages for female inmates. It rescues at-risk dogs, provides inmates with skills they can use post-release, and allows them to contribute to the community. Studies have also shown that the program has a positive impact on the rehabilitation and overall well-being of the inmates involved.

County Jails

With 37 county jails scattered across Montana, correctional officers have numerous opportunities to work in local facilities. One such example is the Missoula County Detention Facility, which has a maximum inmate capacity of 400. To serve as a correctional officer in a county jail like Missoula’s, candidates need to:

  • Complete Corrections & Detention Officer Basic Training

  • Possess a valid Montana Driver’s License

  • Pass a review of criminal history and background check.

The duties of a correctional officer in a Montana county jail involve:

  • Maintaining a secure detention facility

  • Guaranteeing the safe custody of inmates

  • Executing administrative and technical tasks

  • Supervising inmates during transit

  • Adhering to department policies and procedures for public safety

As a vital component of the criminal justice system, county jails require dedicated and well-trained detention officers to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved.

Montana Correctional Enterprises

Beyond working in different correctional facilities, Montana Correctional Enterprises (MCE) offers work programs that help inmates develop skills and work ethic for their societal reintegration. MCE operates 22 business operations within six programs to provide offenders with the skills needed to succeed upon release. These programs aim to facilitate inmate rehabilitation by fostering activity and engagement during incarceration, providing vocational education classes, and encouraging accountability and empowerment.

Montana Correctional Enterprises operates businesses across various industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing. Examples of businesses operated by MCE include raw milk production, agricultural enterprises, and manufacturing operations. By providing inmates with the chance to gain work experience and develop skills, MCE significantly contributes to preparing them for successful societal reintegration.

Salary and Benefits for Montana Correctional Officers

The median salary for Montana correctional officers is $32,930, with potential variations based on location and experience. In Great Falls, for example, the base salary for correctional officers is $26,145.60. Besides the salary, potential benefits for Montana correctional officers might encompass health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

Montana correctional officers typically receive the following benefits:

  • Health, dental, vision, and prescription coverage for themselves and their dependents

  • Paid vacation days, sick days, and holidays

  • Access to a retirement system

  • Life insurance

These benefits, including the opportunity to receive student loan forgiveness, add to the overall appeal of pursuing a career as a correctional officer in Montana, making student loan forgiveness an attractive incentive.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Correctional officers in Montana have numerous career progression avenues, including promotions, specialized roles, and further education and training. The job growth in the correctional officer industry in Montana is estimated to be a stable 5%, projected to create approximately 119 new positions for frontline officers by 2022.

Advanced positions available to correctional officers in Montana include:

  • Correctional Sergeant

  • Lieutenant

  • Captain

  • Administrator

  • Supervisor

Promotions and specialized positions often come with an increase in salary, ranging from 3% to 10% for promotional increases, with an average promotional increase of between 7% and 12% for a one grade level promotion.

By continually developing their skills and knowledge, correctional officers in Montana can build a fulfilling and rewarding career.


In conclusion, becoming a correctional officer in Montana offers a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of inmates and contribute to the safety and security of the community. From meeting the basic requirements and undergoing rigorous training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy to working at various facilities across the state, correctional officers play a vital role in the criminal justice system.

With a competitive salary, comprehensive benefits, and numerous opportunities for career advancement, a career as a correctional officer in Montana is both challenging and rewarding. If you’re ready to embark on a fulfilling career that makes a difference, consider becoming a correctional officer in Montana and be a part of the solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the oldest age to be a correctional officer?

The oldest age to become a correctional officer in the United States is 37 years old, as mandated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

How do I become a parole officer in Montana?

To become a parole officer in Montana, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and attend training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy. Following that, you must obtain POST Basic Certification and complete one year of employment with the Department of Corrections.

How much do ACI guards make in RI?

In Rhode Island, ACI guards start at an annual salary of $61,957 – $89,235 and typically make an average hourly wage of $46.37.

What state pays the most for correctional officers?

California pays the most for correctional officers among all states with an annual salary of $83,520 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Oregon also pay significantly higher salaries than other states.

What are the basic requirements to become a correctional officer in Montana?

To become a correctional officer in Montana, applicants must be at least 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or GED, pass a background check, and have a valid driver’s license.

Scroll to Top