What Does a Fish and Game Warden Do?

Fish and Game Wardens work in state and federal agencies as sworn law enforcement officers. Also known as the conservation officer, wildlife officer, gamekeeper, and forest ranger, it is their job to manage natural environment, protect the wildlife, and ensure enforcement of laws related to fishing, hunting, and boating. The employment of fish and game warden is directed through the department of fish, parks, and wildlife; whereas the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for federal positions, who work as special agents.

Duties and Responsibilities of Fish and Game Wardens

The main responsibility of a game warden is to make sure that hunting, fishing, and boating laws are being followed. Some of their other duties include:

  • Managing wildlife population
  • Investigating crimes related to wildlife
  • Conducting search & rescue operations
  • Apprehending violators of hunting, fishing, and boating laws
  • Assisting biologists in research about fisheries and wildlife
  • Supervising hunting seminars and organizing informative sessions pertinent to wildlife
  • Assisting law enforcement agencies
  • Protecting citizens from wild animals in populated areas

Education & Career Info

Education & Career Info

Education RequiredAssociate’s Degree
Training RequiredTraining at approved training academy
Key SkillsFitness and stamina, critical thinking, use of firearms, outdoor knowledge, and experience,

and good people skills

Job Growth (2020-2030)0%
Average Mean Salary (2021)$ 58,190 per year

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Fish and Game Warden

Anyone considering a career as fish and game warden must research about specific requirements as they vary according to different jurisdictions. Below are some of the basic requirements.

1. Meet the Minimum Requirements

  • To become a fish or game warden, candidates are required to have at least an associate’s degree. The degree can be in an area related to criminal justice, environmental science, and biology.
  • Some states require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
  • Courses taught during these programs include state laws, criminal investigation, and collecting and interpreting biological data.
  • Students also learn about nature conservation and environmental management strategies.

2. Meet Eligibility Requirements

  • Most states require applicants to have a valid U.S. driver’s license and be at least 21 years of age.
  • The candidate needs to pass background check which includes polygraph test and medical examination.
  • They are also required to pass Physical Readiness Test (PRT) and Police Officer Selection Test (POST).

3. Complete Training at the Training Academy

  • Game warden cadets are required to enroll in law enforcement training academy.
  • During this time, they train in first aid, wildlife, fish, and natural resource management, boat operations and defensive tactics.
  • It takes from three to twelve months to finish the course.

4. Passing Exams and taking Oath

  • Upon completion of training, candidates have to successfully complete written and practical exams. In case, all qualifications are not met then the candidate has to reapply after one year.
  • After successful completion of training and exams, the candidates take a sworn oath of office. Each agency has its different wording but the main content is to uphold the duties and responsibilities of law enforcement officer.

Fish and Game Warden Salary and Job Outlook

Due to the nature of the job, fish and game wardens mostly work outdoor. They spend their time in natural settings like forests, lakes, national parks, and mountain areas. Fish and game wardens mostly work full time and in case of emergency, are also required to work overtime. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2021, the mean annual wage of fish and game warden is $ 58,190. Actual salaries also depend on qualification, location, and job position. Below are the top paying states for a fish and game warden.

StateAnnual Mean Wage 
New Jersey$ 82,400
California$ 82,120
Washington$ 78,080
Illinois$ 76,800
Hawaii$ 72,530

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 0% increase from 2020 to 2030 in the overall employment of fish and game wardens. Below are the states with the highest employment level for fish and game wardens.

New York380

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)