Colleges for Aspiring Fish and Game Wardens: How to Choose
The job of a fish and game warden combines elements of biology, ecology, natural resource management and law enforcement. Universities across the U.S. offer associate and bachelor's degree programs designed for aspiring fish and game wardens.
How to Choose a School for Prospective Fish and Game Wardens
Fish and game wardens work under the jurisdiction of the state they live in. Many states provide training for their fish and game wardens in the form of an academy, and each state has slightly different requirements for admission. There are several factors for aspiring fish and game wardens to consider when choosing an undergraduate program.
Considerations for Choosing a Program
- Rules of the state
- Area of interest
Rules of the State
Some states, like Montana, require a bachelor's degree in a closely related field in order to be accepted into the academy, such as fish and wildlife, criminal justice or park management. Other states require just two years of college education, and some don't specify a field. Multiple states do prefer applicants with some college education in one of the above areas or the sciences, conservation biology, police science, ecology or a related field. For this reason, students should find out the requirements of their state and find programs that offer education in the appropriate area.
Area of Interest
Since most training programs admit students from various educational backgrounds, students can choose, to some extent, which area they'd like to study in their undergraduate program. Fish and game wardens can study topics as diverse as environmental science, criminal, justice, agriculture and forestry; however, the most accessible and relevant programs often focus on biology or conservation law enforcement.
Degree programs can be found in onsite, online or hybrid formats. Most programs require laboratory work in biology and chemistry. In many cases, students examine topics that emphasize the relationship of politics to nature, including natural resources policy, conservation enforcement, agricultural economics and global environmental change.
Fish and Game Warden Program Overviews
Associate's Degree in Biology
Although an associate's degree program in biology won't offer courses in law enforcement, it will provide graduates with fieldwork and a strong foundation in the sciences. Most programs are transferable to a 4-year college or university. Biology programs offer classes in:
- Animal and plant diversity
- Field ecology
- Stewardship of open space
Associate's Degree in Conservation Law
Many 2-year programs focus on both natural resource conservation and criminal justice. Students generally take courses the first year, with fieldwork and internships completed during the second year. A program in conservation law includes the study of:
- Criminal law procedure
- Air and waste resource management
- Police and community relations
- Fisheries management and
- Law enforcement ethics
Bachelor's Degree in Biology, Ecology or Natural Resource Conservation
A bachelor's program in a biological science often has courses or concentrations in fisheries and wildlife, conservation ecology or natural resource policies. Students investigate multiple areas of animal and plant biology, including mammalogy, invertebrate biology, aquatic life and forest ecology. They also examine specific conservation topics such as:
- Watershed management
- Human-wildlife conflict resolution
- Urban ecology
- Environmental economics
Bachelor's Degree in Conservation Law Enforcement
This degree program is specifically designed for those who want to become natural resource conservation officials. Courses often combine natural science and law enforcement topics. Students investigate environmental communication and conflict management or federal and state environmental policy. Classes in criminological theory, courtroom procedures and philosophy of law are usually required or offered as electives. Science-specific topics may include:
- Wildlife and fisheries management
- Wildlife identification
- Terrestrial and aquatic ecology
- Water resources
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