How to Become a Police Officer in Idaho

    The mountainous state of Idaho has a population of 1.7 million with a median household income of $50,985.1 There is room to grow as a police officer as there are currently fewer than 2,500 cops in Idaho’s police and sheriff’s departments.2 While each police department or sheriff’s office has its own requirements for prospective police officers, there are some general guidelines expected for anyone desiring to start a career in law enforcement. These, as well as specific department guidelines, are detailed below.

    Idaho Police Officer Requirements

    The Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) lists minimum requirements for becoming sworn law enforcement in the state. In addition to being a US citizen, potential recruits must:

    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Have a high school diploma or GED
    • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
    • Not have used marijuana regularly within the past five years or occasionally within the past three years, and have not used other controlled substances
    • Have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or DUI convictions within the past five years and have no felony convictions
    • Have been fingerprinted
    • Have a satisfactory background investigation
    • Have a valid driver’s license from the state of Idaho with a good driving record

    Required Examinations

    Applicants hoping to become cops in Idaho must undergo a physical readiness test and pass the Idaho POST Academy Physical Readiness Test. A psychological evaluation must be completed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. An aptitude test is also required. Successful candidates will be trained in a POST-approved police academy, where they can expect to take additional academic and physical tests in order to graduate and be sworn in as a police officer.

    “As early as possible, aspiring peace officers should be the kind of person that a community wants to hire as a police officer. That means no tattoos, no legal trouble in including traffic convictions, a good work record, and establishing a reputation that will be well spoken of during a background check.” -Dr. Joel F. Shults, author of The Badge and the Brain

    Idaho State Patrol Requirements

    The Idaho State Police (ISP), headquartered in Meridian, has several departments and is responsible for law enforcement services including highway patrol and commercial vehicle safety. To become an Idaho State Police Trooper, applicants must meet state requirements and:

    • Not have any tattoos that would be visible or uncoverable while in uniform
    • Meet the ISP’s drug use policies
    • Pass a written and physical exam, psychological and polygraph evaluation, an oral interview and a background examination
    • Have two or more years of work experience*
    • Meet the physical, mental, vision, and hearing requirements of the ISP
    • Have been honorably discharged, if a military veteran

    *Two years of attendance at an accredited college or university may be substituted for work experience.

    Idaho Sheriff Deputy Requirements

    Sheriff’s deputies maintain the public safety of Idaho’s 44 counties and have a variety of responsibilities including patrol, criminal investigations, arresting fugitives on active warrants, and other law enforcement tasks. They are also the primary enforcement agency for upholding Idaho’s liquor laws.

    Ada County

    The most populous county in Idaho, Ada County has a population of over 450,000 people.3 The Ada County’s Sheriff’s Office has over 325 commissioned deputies and 400 non-sworn staff.4 To join the Ada County’s Sheriff’s Office, potential sheriff’s deputies must meet state requirements and:

    • Have either 64 credit hours or an associate degree from an accredited college or university, two years of full-time work experience from another public law enforcement agency, or have four years of honorable military experience
    • Have a satisfactory background examination that exhibits good moral character

    Police Departments in Idaho

    There are 2,470 law enforcement officers in Idaho, earning an average annual salary of $52,340.2 All prospective Idaho police officers must meet the state POST’s minimum requirements. However, individual police departments may set standards that are stricter than the state’s minimums. Read on to learn more about police officer requirements in some of Idaho’s large cities.


    The Boise Police Department (BPD) has a police force of 309 sworn officers.5 In addition to patrol, the BPD has 16 specialty units, some of which include: the airport police, the bar team, Boise State University police, the bomb squad, community service specialists, the crisis negotiation unit, and the special operations unit. To apply, hopeful cops must meet state minimums and:

    • Have 20/200 vision (uncorrected) with 20/20 in the strong eye (corrected) and 20/60 in the weaker eye (corrected)
    • Have completed 60 credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university, have an Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) intermediate certificate, OR have honorable military experience with 30 credit hours from an accredited college or university
    • Have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or DUI convictions within the past five years and have no felony convictions
    • Not have more than five traffic violations within the past three years

    Once sworn in, new police officers with the Boise Police Department earn a starting annual salary of $51,292 per year.5 Officers receive regular step increases thereafter along with opportunities for promotion to the supervisory ranks.

    Idaho Falls

    The Idaho Falls Police Department (IFPD) provides public safety services to Bonneville County. IFPD has three divisions: uniform, detective, and services division. The IFPD considers applicants who meet state minimums and:

    • Can perform effectively with limited supervision
    • Can pass the department’s physical and mental aptitude tests

    Accepted candidates will complete police academy training in order to become sworn Idaho Falls police officers.

    Police Training Academies in Idaho

    All police and sheriff’s deputies in Idaho are required to complete a 10-week basic academy. Recruits will gain knowledge of and be tested on several topics, including law, firearms, driving skills, and arrest techniques.

    There are two basic training academies for patrol officers in Idaho:

    • Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy – Meridian, ID
    • Idaho State Police Training Section – Meridian, ID

    Idaho Police Jobs Outlook

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 2,470 cops in Idaho.2 It is projected that by 2026, that workforce will grow by 9.7%.7 On average, there should be 200 average annual openings for police officers in Idaho, including replacements, through 2026.7 The number of new police officers will be closely tied to agency budgets and priorities.

    To search law enforcement jobs in Idaho, check out our police jobs board.

    Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Idaho

    CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
    Boise City890$57,780
    Coeur d’Alene290$55,490
    Idaho Falls160$49,360

    Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

    1. US Census Bureau, Idaho: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ID/PST045221
    2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State and Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates, Idaho: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm
    3. US Census Bureau, Ada County, Idaho: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/adacountyidaho/PST045221
    4. Ada County Sheriff’s Office: https://adacounty.id.gov/sheriff/
    5. Boise Police Department: https://www.cityofboise.org/departments/police/
    6. Idaho Falls Police Department: https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/1739/Police-Department
    7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm