How to Become A Fish and Game Warden

Fish and Wildlife Officer Career Introduction
Do you like living on the edge? Do skyscrapers and concrete blocks scare you while the uncertainties of the wild attract you? Then consider getting a job which is both fulfilling and challenging without getting yourself chained to a desk all day long. Not many think of game wardens as dare evils, putting their lives on the line to protect wildlife from hunters and poachers but in reality they do.

Become a fish and game warden
Game wardens are generally employed by state and local authorities. Therefore, as a game warden you will either serve in urban or rural areas. Your primary aim and objective would be to enforce the law within your jurisdiction. You are likely to enforce laws relating to:

  • hunting
  • exotic animals
  • falconry
  • pollution
  • trapping
  • recreational and commercial fishing

Sounds like the hallmarks of a desk job? Not really. As a game warden you will be carrying a firearm with the right to use it. You will be required to work weekends and holidays, you may also work alone in the dark. To enforce your state and local laws, you will travel in a variety of vehicles, boats, plane, and horseback and even patrol your area on foot.
Away from the daily challenges of the job, game wardens also investigate reports of violations, collect and preserve evidence and testify in court. As if you cannot escape the desk job aspect of the job, game wardens also write reports.

There is another very positive element to being a game warden; you will get to educate people on wildlife laws regarding wildlife hunting and preservation. Game wardens are invited to local high schools and hunting and fishing clubs, etc. to spread awareness and provide updated information on the changing state laws on wildlife.

The job may be a thrill ride in many ways but it is not for everyone. The following information should tell you whether you should or could seek becoming a fish and game warden. The information however does not represent a uniform code; as mentioned earlier, game wardens enforce state and local laws.


EducationA bachelor’s degree in any discipline unless otherwise specified by an employer (some may prefer a degree in wildlife management or criminal justice). For some, prior military or law enforcement experience may not substitute academic requirements.
Physical attributesYou have probably guessed already that game wardens are agile individuals. A licensed physician will examine you before declaring you fit for the job.
HearingYou must be able to hear 35 decibels with or without hearing aids in each of the following frequencies: 500, 1000, 2000, and 3000 Hz.
VisionYou need to have binocular vision of 20/30 or better. This can be reached with both with or without soft or hard contacts or corrective lenses. If you wear glasses then uncorrected vision in the best eye must be no worse than 20/40 and 20/100 in the worst eye. If you use soft contacts, then uncorrected vision in the both eyes must be better than 20/200. You must be able to distinguish between red and green colors. You must also have night vision and uninterrupted peripheral vision of 140 degrees or better.
Physical readinessYour employer will make you complete a physical readiness test which may include a swim test, handgun stability test and physical exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, and running.
AgeSome employers may hire you at any age, meaning there may be no maximum age limit, however, they may not hire kids for the job. The minimum age limit may be 21 years.
License A valid driver’s license may enhance your chances of employment as it would help your employer run background checks on you.
Background A comprehensive background check will be conducted. What is your future employer looking for? That you are of good moral character and that you have never been convicted of a felony or Class A Misdemeanor. That you have no Class B Misdemeanor offense like DWI (driving while intoxicated), DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) and BWI (boating while intoxicated) convictions in the past 10 years. Furthermore, you have never been convicted of any family violence offense and that you are not on parole or probation for any offense above Class C Misdemeanor offence.
Military serviceA less than honorable discharge will finish your chances of employment.  
CitizenshipGame warden employers are usually looking for US nationals only.
Drug useCurrent illegal drug use will finish your chances of employment.
Psychological conditionYour employer will have you examined by a licensed psychologist and his/her clean bill of health regarding your emotional and psychological health will be necessary for employment.

Salary Information:
Bureau of Labor Statistics reports,
Annual Mean Wage (2013):$50,470
Employment Outlook: Relatively Positive

Why become a fish and game warden?
Your colleagues become your family and that is perhaps something which catapults this career head and shoulders above others. The friendship lasts even after retirement. The other reason why you should think about becoming a game warden is the field work. After all what other job would pay you for working in the nature.

Do not become a fish and game warden

Have no illusions about the job; don’t become a game warden to fish and hunt, because you won’t be doing much. Game wardens regulate others who are fishing and hunting. The job is no bed of roses. As mentioned earlier, the job is essentially for those who love being closer to nature. There also the administrative side. Game wardens are required to perform administrative jobs like writing personal and investigative reports. They also prepare cases for prosecution and may take weeks to do that. Also think twice about becoming a game warden if you hate performing supervisory duties.

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 1660 0.11 1.26 18.13 37720
Florida 1130 0.14 1.68 17.97 37370
Illinois 960 0.16 1.92 17.9 37240
Texas 760 0.07 0.78 16.62 34570
New York 650 0.07 0.85 20.12 41840


How to become a Fish & Game Warden in Texas?

To become a Fish & Game Warden in Texas, you need a Bachelor’s degree or an Associate’s degree in any subject. However, Wildlife Management, Biology Ecology and criminal justice are preferable majors. You must be at least 21 and pass the physical fitness test. A thorough background check will then be followed by an interview with the selection board. You must then pass a psychological evaluation before taking your place at the Texas Game Warden Academy for a 30-week training program.

How to become a Fish & Game Warden in California?

To become a Fish & Game Warden in California, you need a Bachelor’s or an Associate’s degree in any field. Preferable majors include Biology, Wildlife Management, Ecology and Criminal Justice. Minimum age is 21. You need to pass the physical exam and undergo background scrutiny before the selection interview. Next up is the psychological evaluation before a 2-phase training program. This includes 30 weeks at the Fish & Game Warden Resources Academy followed by 10 weeks at 3 field training locations.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Fish and Game Warden?

Fish and Game Wardens are commonly known as Conservation Officers. Those who want to pursue their careers as a Fish and Game Warden need to:

  • Possess the relevant education
  • Search and apply for the position of a fish and game warden
  • Take and pass the drug tests, physical fitness exams as well as a polygraph test
  • Clear the background checks
  • Get the training for using a firearm and become qualified to carry a handgun
  • Clear the interview for the fish and game warden position
  • Get hired and complete the training period

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Fish and Game Warden?

Although there are no institutions or schools that provide formal education specifically catered to the field of fish and game wardens, obtaining a degree in criminology will serve you better in the long run. Other relevant degrees include getting at least a high school diploma, clearing a GED Exam, obtaining an associate's degree or a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences, Aquatic/Marine Sciences or Biology etc. These requirements depend on the state you live in.

In addition to that, physical fitness and having an extensive knowledge of state and federal laws is also a must. Candidates need to be capable of conducting public presentations and carrying out their duties as sworn officers of the law enforcement.

How Much Can I Make after Becoming a Fish and Game Warden?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website's data for 2018 shows that 6,040 fish and game wardens were working in the United States and earning $59,260 per year in mean income.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What degree do you need to become a fish and game warden?

A:The degree requirements to become a fish and game warden will vary from state to state. In some states, an associate degree may qualify you for the job while in other states you will need a 4 year college degree. The exact education and training requirements are determined by the fish and wildlife department of the state.

Q:What are the requirements to become a fish and game warden?

A:The requirements will vary from state to state. In most states, you will be required to possess a college degree along with training in law enforcement. If you are selected for the position, you may also have to undergo formal training at a specialized academy. Alongside the main education requirements, you must also be in good physical shape and must pass a background check.

Q:How long does it take to become a fish and game warden?

A:The exact duration will depend upon the academic route you pursue and which state you reside in. In some states, you can qualify for the position after earning an associate degree, while in other states you must complete a 4 year bachelor program. Generally, it can take 3-4 years to become a fish and game warden. After completing your college education, you must enroll in training that can rage anywhere from 6-12 months.

Q:What do fish and game warden do?

A:Fish and game wardens enforce hunting, boating and fishing laws, protect wildlife, and patrol rivers, lakes, wetlands, beaches, coastlines and deserts. Fish and game wardens are also known as peace officers and can serve arrest warrants, conduct investigations, and arrest people for crimes that occur in their assigned region. The job duties will also include a few administrative tasks such as filing reports, compiling evidence for court actions, and issuing legal warnings. (Source: O*Net Online)

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