Game Warden Career Information and Education Requirements
Research game warden career information. Learn about the job duties, education and training requirements to make an informed decision about becoming a game warden.
Game wardens are peace officers tasked with enforcing the laws regarding wild animals, especially those relevant to hunting and fishing. The areas they patrol are varied, including wilderness, parks and waterways. As government employees, game wardens must be U.S. citizens 21 years or older. Positions often require complete background checks, and they may also require polygraph testing prior to hiring. A felony record may prevent applicants from being selected. Additionally, physical fitness and firearms proficiency are considered job requirements.
Game wardens generally enforce a specific area of the law. They are concerned with the poaching of both fish and wildlife. In addition to hunting law, game wardens may also be called on to enforce boating laws and assist in search and rescue operations. Game wardens often patrol alone, and with limited backup, in remote areas. They may travel not only by car or truck, but also by foot, all-terrain vehicle or watercraft. Like all law enforcement positions, this one can be relatively dangerous. Additionally, the extensive training commitment may be difficult for some applicants, as it may create additional strain on family obligations.
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), game wardens earned a median annual salary of $48,070 as of 2012. Employment growth in the field is expected to be below average throughout the 2010-2020 decade, the BLS states, leading to competition for positions.
Departments may now require that applicants have 4-year degrees. In some cases, these are 2+2 degrees, meaning that the future game wardens complete police training in a 2-year associate program before moving to a 4-year institution to complete bachelor's programs. Not all departments require bachelor's degrees for all applicants, and law enforcement or military training may substitute in some cases.
Once game wardens have been provisionally hired, they immediately begin training in an approved of state-run program that may last 3-12 months. These programs cover physical fitness, legal knowledge, firearms training, wilderness knowledge and a host of other skills necessary for the position.
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