Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Idaho

CSI agents and officers are some of the first to reach a crime scene and some of the last to leave. Often times the case of a prosecuting attorney will be based mainly on evidence obtained by crime scene investigators who are responsible for ensuring justice is served, which often includes courtroom appearances as sworn witnesses.

Pursuing a CSI career in Idaho is not for the faint-hearted, as work can at times involve tragic accidents and brutal circumstances, though it is a job that must be done.

Some of the main employing agencies for crime scene investigators in Idaho are:

  • Boise Police Department
  • Idaho State Police
  • Nampa Police Department
  • Meridian Police Department

Getting the Right Education for CSI Careers in Idaho

No matter the hiring agency or location in the state, working in the crime scene investigations field requires having the right CSI degree and certification. It is always a good idea to check an individual agency’s specific requirements, but general qualifications for working in this field include:

  • Having years of experience conducting investigations, performing analysis, and gathering evidence
  • Having a degree certificate in:
    • Physical Sciences
    • Natural Sciences
    • Criminalistics
    • Chemistry
    • Quantitative Analysis
    • Genetics
    • Biochemistry

Having the right combination of education, training, and experience gives candidates for CSI jobs a solid foundation from which to begin the application process. CSI certification programs available across Idaho and online also provide specific training in key areas including:

  • Fingerprint analysis and lifting
  • Collecting blood specimens
  • Techniques for gathering evidence
  • Crime scene reconstruction
  • Death investigations

Candidates also have a number of state and private schools, as well as online colleges to choose from in Idaho that offer associate and bachelor degrees in strategic CSI fields. Associate’s degrees and undergraduate certificates are good for entry level technician and analyst positions, while students who are thinking of a long-term career should consider at least a bachelor’s degree in a pertinent field, as these are required for the more senior and advanced CSI positions.

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What to Expect from a CSI Career in Idaho

Once a candidate has obtained qualifying crime scene investigator experience, education and training, he or she will be ready to begin applying to the various law enforcement agencies across the state, some of which include:

  • Working as a Criminalist with the Boise Police Department is by no means an easy job. These dedicated public servants must respond at any time of the day or night when their services are needed at crime scenes, performing tasks such as:
    • Lifting quality fingerprints
    • Gathering DNA evidence
    • Attending autopsies to gather photographic evidence
    • Standing up to rigorous courtroom cross-examination
  • Crime scene investigator jobs in Nampa involve working with each patrol team. Investigators – also known as criminologists – receive special CSI training to gather evidence at serious crime scenes and have the ability to analyze latent fingerprints, conduct shoe and tire track comparisons, and test for the presence of marijuana.
  • Idaho State Police Investigations provides CSI services across the Gem State including Pocatello, Meridian, and Idaho Falls. These investigators specialize in questionable death situations, violent crime, and major crimes against property. The Idaho State Police also operates a specialized forensics lab that processes evidence obtained at the site of crime scenes sent in by law enforcement agencies from across the state.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Idaho

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on the level of employment and salaries of forensic science technicians in Idaho in 2012.  Eighty such technicians worked in Idaho that year.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, their ranks are projected to increase by 21.33% in the period from 2010 to 2020.  Most of this growth is expected to come from people leaving the workforce rather than new jobs being created.

BLS forensic scientist salary data is shown below for 2012:

Idaho City
Average Annual Salary

Over sixty percent of the state’s forensic science technicians were located in Boise City-Nampa in 2012.

The Idaho State Police employs a number of forensic scientists at its three labs in Meridian, Pocatello, and Coeur d’Alene.  Some of these positions for lab technicians include:

  • Forensic evidence specialist
  • Forensic scientist 1 through 3
  • Forensic scientist 4/DNA
  • Forensic scientist 4/impression evidence

In addition to the work done by lab technicians, many forensic scientists investigate evidence at crime scenes.  This work can be done by police officers or civilian crime scene investigators (CSIs), depending on the department.

Salaries can vary greatly, depending on the educational background of the scientist and their amount of practical experience.  In Payette, a police officer working as a crime scene investigator started at $32,240 a year in 2013.

Some CSIs specialize in analyzing different types of evidence, such as fingerprints, shoe or tire impressions, or blood patterns.  In Boise, a latent fingerprint examiner made from $43,680 to $48,464 a year in 2013.

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of forensic scientist annual and hourly salary percentiles for the Boise-Nampa area as shown in the following table:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Boise City-Nampa ID

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Boise, Idaho

Although Idaho is one of the nation’s safest states, crimes do occur and there are career opportunities for crime scene investigators (CSIs) and forensic laboratory scientists, primarily with the Boise Police Department or the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

Boise has at least one fully accredited four-year university with undergraduate and degree programs in chemistry and other sciences. The city also has several community colleges with criminal justice or police science programs.

Peace officers with the Boise Police Department earn monthly salaries from $3,500 (recruits on probation) to $6,739 (20-year veterans).

In general, crime scene investigators and forensic scientists in Boise earn average annual salaries of $33,000 and $42,000 respectively.

Job Requirements for Forensic Lab Techs and CSIs in Boise

Requirements for Jobs with the BPD Crime Lab

  • Associate’s degree in forensic science with emphasis on fingerprint analysis – preference given to candidates with a bachelor’s degree
  • Valid Idaho driver’s license
  • Pass extensive background investigation (including credit history)
  • Pass polygraph examination and drug screening
  • Physically able to stand for long periods, stoop, bend and climb

Requirements for Jobs with the Boise Police Department

Sworn BPD officers handle crime scene investigations. Requirements for becoming a BPD officer include:

  • U.S citizen over the age of 20
  • At least 64 college credit hours in criminal justice or a related field OR a P.O.S.T. (Peace Officers Standards & Training) certificate
  • Good moral character, no felony convictions
  • Pass vision test
  • Pass written test and oral interview
  • Pass background investigation and polygraph examination
  • Meet the following physical fitness requirements: vertical jump to at least 14 inches; 15-plus sit-ups in one minute; 21+ push-ups in one minute; 300-meter run in under 77 seconds; 1.5-mile run in less than 17 minutes, 17 seconds
  • Pass psychological evaluation with a licensed psychologist
  • Pass medical examination and drug screening

All new recruits are required to attend the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy as well as additional training with the Boise Police Department.

Requirements for Job with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab

  • Bachelor’s degree in chemistry or another natural science
  • Pass a background investigation and polygraph exam
  • Non-smoker for at least the past 11 months

The Sheriff’s Office has an internship program that allows college students to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Boise Police Department Crime Scene Investigation

Crime scene investigation is handled by the Boise Police Department’s (BPD) Violent Crimes Unit which responds to homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assault/battery, kidnappings, missing person cases and suspicious deaths. The unit consists of five detectives, one law enforcement technician and one sergeant who investigate current felony crimes as well as open homicide and missing person cases that date back as far as 1985. Members of the team are often called upon to testify in court and the detectives are on the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force of experienced Ada County detectives who investigate critical incidents and officer-involved shootings.

Boise Police Department Crime Lab

The BPD Crime Lab is staffed by specialized technicians who work closely with Ada County detectives and prosecutors. Their primary function is to use scientific procedures to test, compare and analyze fingerprint evidence from crime scenes. Responsibilities of the crime lab technicians include:

  • Using powders, chemicals and alternate light sources to develop prints
  • Running comparisons on the FBI Automated Fingerprint Identification System
  • Developing photographic films taken at crime scenes
  • Attending autopsies to lift fingerprints when needed
  • Responding to crime scenes when special fingerprint expertise is needed
  • Giving expert testimony about fingerprints in court

Ada County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab

The criminalists who staff the Ada County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab are responsible for collecting, processing and analyzing crime scene evidence throughout Ada County. In addition, they train sheriff deputies in handling crime scene evidence and help other local law enforcement agencies as needed.

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