Fish and Game Warden: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a fish and game warden. Learn about the education needed, job outlook and average salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Fish and Game Warden?

Fish and game wardens work for federal or state agencies enforcing laws that protect and conserve fish and wildlife. These professionals educate the public about boating, fishing and hunting laws and patrol the fishing and hunting areas to enforce them. Fish and game wardens are also qualified to conduct search and rescue missions, and investigate any accidents that may occur in these protected areas. Workers at the federal level are often called Federal Wildlife Officers. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Associate degree for state jobs; bachelor's degree for federal jobs
Training Required Police academy training for state jobs; firearms use
Key Responsibilities Enforce fish and game regulations, issue citations, testify in court
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Average Annual Salary (2015) $54,970*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a Fish and Game Warden?

Your primary duty as a fish and game garden will be protecting fish and wildlife by enforcing hunting, pollution, trapping and fishing regulations. The job will require that you regularly patrol areas on foot, by plane or boat, or on horseback and watch for evidence of law violations. You may give citations to individuals who have broken laws, or, as the situation warrants, arrest them.

Sometimes, you might confiscate equipment that has been used in connection with violations or investigate claims of property damage associated with law violations. Part of your job may entail writing reports, testifying in court and organizing hunter education programs. You may also perform inspections of commercial fisheries or recreational operations.

What Is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of fish and game wardens was expected to increase by just two percent between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Job openings were expected to arise due to retiring workers vacating their positions. The average annual salary for these professionals was approximately $54,970 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

What Educational Requirements Must I Attain?

You will need at least a 2-year degree if you'd like to become a fish and game warden. You can enroll in a community college or university and major in a field such as criminal justice. Your program may include courses such as forensic science, criminal law, criminal investigation, mathematics and the justice system. When you complete your educational training and are hired as a fish and game warden, you'll enroll in a training academy for up to a year.

Training for state fish and game wardens is usually completed at a police academy. As a recruit, you'll be given training in areas such as firearms use, and investigative techniques, as well as lessons in constitutional and state laws. If you'd like to work for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, you'll have to acquire a 4-year bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. A bachelor's curriculum might offer classes such as social psychology, corrections and crime analysis.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar careers to fish and game wardens include security guards and gaming surveillance officers, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, and private detectives and investigators. Security guards and gaming surveillance offers require a high school diploma or equivalent, and perform similar duties as fish and game wardens, but with personal and private property instead of outdoor areas. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists require a bachelor's degree, and work with probationers to help them continue to obey the law. Private detectives and investigators need a high school diploma or equivalent, and offer various services, including finding missing persons and investigating crimes.

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