Do you care deeply about animals? Are you interested in protecting those animals from human exploitation? Then consider becoming a game warden. Game wardens enforce hunting, fishing, trapping and boating laws. That means protecting wildlife from an illegal activity like poaching or trapping. You may even be brought in to assist in a search and capture mission when a bear comes strutting into town.
Game Warden Career Requirements
So just how does one become a game warden? Not by chance or sleight of hands. You actually need to be qualified for the job. The game warden position does not have your typical list of requirements. No, it’s a law enforcement position, which means much is expected of candidates pursuing the career.
Candidates wishing to become a game warden must have a list of traits before they can even think of applying. To be considered eligible, they must:
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Be at least 18 or 21 (depending on the state they’re in)
- Have no felony convictions
- Be free from revocations or suspensions for 12 months prior to application
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Possess the mandatory educational requirements
In some states, this educational requirement is the possession of a four-year bachelor’s degree. Other states may hire applicants without a bachelor’s degree provided that they have a two-year associate’s degree in addition to law enforcement experience or full-time fish and/or wildlife experience. There is no requirement that the degree is in a specific field of study, but some degree programs like wildlife management, biology, ecology, and natural resource management will provide candidates with knowledge and experience that’s related to the duties a game warden must fulfill.
The Hiring Process
If the Fish and Wildlife Department expresses interest in hiring candidates, they’ll begin the hiring process. Candidates will be interviewed and because this is a law enforcement position they are applying for, the agency must run a background check as well as administer a polygraph test. During this time, candidates will also be required to take and pass a drug test, a medical examination, and a physical fitness test. Because of the nature of the job candidates are also required to have perfect vision, normal color perception, and normal hearing. They must also pass a series of swimming tests.
Once a candidate has met all these requirements, they’ll be sent to a training academy for 3-12 months to undergo training. There they will learn about the laws contained in the Fish and Wildlife Code and about law enforcement policies and enforcement. Those who graduate from the training academy will be officially appointed as a game warden.
The time it takes to become a game warden is determined by the steps taken during the process. Bachelor degree programs take four years to complete, associate degree programs take two years to complete (plus the two years of law enforcement experience that goes along with it), and the training academy takes 3-12 months to complete. So it may take 4-5 years for an individual to be appointed a game warden.