How Much Does a Conservation Officer Make?

Research what it takes to become conservation officer. Learn about job responsibilities, education, and potential salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Natural Resources & Conservation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Conservation officers protect natural resources and wildlife in forests, wetlands and state parks. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required High school diploma at a minimum
Key Responsibilities Patrol designated area, enforce game laws, prevent criminal activity on public lands
Certification Certification as a peace officer may be required in some states
Job Growth (2012-2022) 1%* (fish and game wardens)
Median Salary (2014) $58,828** (conservation program officers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Conservation Officer Job Responsibilities

Conservation officers often work for local, state and federal government agencies. Typical job duties may include patrolling designated grounds, preventing criminal activity and enforcing hunting and fishing laws. You may also be in charge of ensuring that hunters, trappers and fishermen have the appropriate licenses. Many conservation officers are licensed to carry firearms.

What Education Do I Need?

Much of the training you'll need will take place on the job. Employers may hire applicants who've earned at least a high school diploma. In some cases, completion of an associate's or bachelor's program with coursework in criminal justice, forestry and resource conservation might be required.

You may also need to become certified as a peace officer by the state in which you work; requirements for certification vary from state to state. For example, aspiring conservation officers in Michigan attend a 22-week police academy program before earning licensure as peace officers. In Minnesota, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice through a peace officer education program; these programs are offered through community colleges as well as universities. Successful completion of a licensure exam is required in both Michigan and Minnesota.

What Can I Expect To Earn?

PayScale.com estimated in 2014 that conservation program officers in the 25th-75th percentile range made between $43,000 and $59,000 per year, with the median salary being $58,828. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notes that, as of February 2015, conservation officers earned an annual salary between $47,335 to $62,389 (www.dnr.state.mn.us). According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, newly hired conservation officers made an annual wage of $53,304 as of February 2015, with salary increases awarded for experience and completion of additional training (www.dec.ny.gov).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for fish and game wardens was $48,760 in 2013 (www.bls.gov). The lowest paid ten percent of fish and game wardens earned $33,080 per year; the upper ten percent made $71,510 during the same time.

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