Ecosystems with a rich variety of wildlife can be kept better-protected from human interference by conservation officers. Conservation officers work to ensure that the regulations in place to preserve the natural environment they tend to are respected.
Education and Experience
Both an associate’s and bachelor’s are sufficient degrees to possess for potential employment as a conservation officer. Ideally, the applicant’s major area of study will be in a field such as natural resource sciences, wildlife management or criminology.
In addition to a degree from an accredited college, conservation officers will also need to successfully clear their state’s officer training program. Qualifying conservation officers in certain states might be required to have a peace officer license and/or an active hunting license in addition to their state ID.
Qualifying Traits and Skills
Conservation officers must be able to handle the physical challenge of constantly walking through steep and unsteady terrain. As some natural environments may be more prone to harsh weather conditions and flash floods than others, conservation officers should be at least marginally trained in safety protocols in the event of a sudden storm when on the trail.
To assess whether they’re physically prepared for the job, prospective conservation officers will have to pass a physical fitness examination to be certified. As the job calls for individuals with a deep sense of accountability and strong character, applicants to conservation officer positions must pass a background check as well.
Though most of a conservation officers’ routine tasks won’t necessitate direct exposure to exceedingly dangerous situations, they must still have a contingency plan for situations that may escalate. Conservation officers need to have sharp situational awareness and powers of observation to note subtle signs in the environment that could indicate an unseen but imminent problem.
As conservation officers may occasionally need to spend a longer period of time outdoors than expected if any sudden developments necessitate it, it’s essential that they possess a naturally high level of comfort with prolonged stays in a wide range of different surroundings in the wilderness.
Safety Management and Regulation Enforcement
Wherever they may be stationed, most conservation officers share the key responsibilities both keeping the visitors safe and the environment undisturbed. The conservation officer will routinely inspect the sate of trails, bridges, and boundary markers to notify passerby of off-limits areas.
Some hikers or hunters on the trail may either be unaware of dismissive of fishing and hunting regulations, and it falls upon the conservation officer to enforce those regulations by confronting those who violate them. In their duty to enforce hunting and fishing regulations, conservation officers do have a fair chance of being lashed out at by frustrated individuals who don’t agree with the rules.
As some of the more belligerent individuals that the conservation officer approaches may be carrying loaded firearms when confronted, the conversation officer themselves is often required to have sufficient firearm-handling ability themselves as a condition of employment. Ideally, the conservation offer’s communication skills and professionalism can be used to de-escalate confrontations before they become problematic.
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Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that conservation officers earned an average annual salary of $54,970 in the year 2015. While the BLS’s career outlook calculations aren’t specifically used for conservation officers, the job outlook for closely-related occupations such as foresting have been projected to have a growth rate of about seven percent by 2024.