Working as a fish and game warden is an exciting way to protect natural resources and enjoy a respectable salary. These jobs are also known as environmental wardens, conservation officers and park wardens. As a sworn officer of the law, you’ll enforce state, county and federal regulations in outdoor environments. That means cracking down on boating under the influence, ensuring undersized fish get thrown back and helping landowners prevent trespassing. You’ll need some college education and the ability to talk to the public to succeed in this field. If you want to combine your love of nature with your commitment to upholding justice, you won’t find a better career option.
What Do Fish and Game Wardens Do?
Fish and game wardens enforce hunting regulations, work alongside scientific and community groups and investigate crimes committed in forests and parks. Your workweek might include an overnight stakeout of a popular fishing lake, an educational presentation at a local school and a shift manning a DUI checkpoint at the state park. You might also find yourself enforcing boating laws, fighting litterbugs and helping researchers track large animals in your territory. One of the best parts of being a conservation officer is the variety you enjoy in your working life.
Do You Need a College Degree to Become a Game Warden?
To start working as an environmental conservation officer, you will need at least an Associate’s of Science in Forestry, Biology or a similar field. If you want to work for your state’s Department of Natural Resources or at a federal job, you’ll want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Most game wardens study criminal justice, environmental resources, biology or conservation disciplines. A master’s degree in public administration (MPA) or a Master of Science in Environmental Management can be helpful for your overall career growth if you want to move into a non-field position.
What Skills Do Conservation Wardens Need?
Fish and game wardens interact with the public on a regular basis. You’ll want to have basic public speaking skills for giving presentations, and conflict resolution will be handy for dealing with poachers and belligerent park visitors. Experience with hunting and fishing tactics and regulations will aid you in tracking illegal activities. If you’ve grown up using watercrafts, you’ll use that experience in coastal areas. Physical fitness for trekking through the wilderness and chasing criminals is necessary as is basic familiarity with firearms.
What Type of Salary and Benefits Do Wildlife Wardens Earn?
Environmental officers enjoy a good salary and wide array of benefits. The national average wage is $54, 970 with top earners bringing home more than $75,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most conservation wardens are government employees and receive retirement contributions, affordable health insurance and paid days off from their agency. Equipment, a take-home patrol car and extensive training are provided to most fish and game wardens as well. You might also receive tuition reimbursement and uniform allowances.
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To get started in this career path, work on your fitness level, learn to handle firearms and look for universities with relevant degree paths. Some schools offer degree paths specifically for training you to be a fish and game warden, so don’t hesitate to ask programs how they can help you meet your career goals.