Job Duties of a Fish and Game Warden
Fish and game wardens serve as law enforcement agents for state and federal fish and wildlife agencies, enforcing laws that are designed to protect and conserve fish and wildlife. Fish and game wardens also enforce boating laws and conduct search and rescue operations to locate missing people. Wardens may confiscate any poached fish or game as well as arrest violators. Fish and game wardens also observe and report on the condition of the fish and wildlife within their jurisdiction (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).
Beyond their typical duties, fish and game wardens may have additional responsibilities, such as investigating damage to or accidents that have occurred within the areas of their jurisdiction, such as a park, as well as complaints by visitors about the park or area. Wardens may advise land owners of preventative measures they may be able to take to reduce damage to wildlife or crops or give lectures about conservation efforts at civic, sporting, and other events.
Job Skills of a Fish and Game Warden
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fish and game wardens should possess skills and attributes similar to those of other law enforcement agents (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Fish and game wardens will likely benefit from having strong leadership and communication skills, as well as the ability to multitask, as the day-to-day details of the job can vary. Additionally, it is helpful for wardens to have firsthand experience with hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking in wild areas. Strong skills of perception — the ability to anticipate the actions and motives of other people — may also prove beneficial to wardens.
Training and Education of a Fish and Game Warden
Many fish and game wardens work for their state’s Department of Fish and Game, with others working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the U.S. Department of the Interior. Qualifying tests are usually offered by these departments every two years and may include subjects such as law enforcement, conservation, ecology, wildlife, and logical reasoning. A physical examination is usually required, as well as vision and hearing screenings. Those employed by the FWS typically need to have earned a bachelor’s degree, usually in the biological sciences or law enforcement.
Job Outlook for Fish and Game Wardens
The BLS projects that the projected employment of fish and game wardens from 2010 to 2020 could grow up to five percent, nationally lower than the projected growth for all other occupations (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). As is the case with many law enforcement agencies, government spending typically determines the level of employment for fish and game wardens.
According to the BLS, as of May 2011, fish and game wardens made a national median annual wage of $50,070, with the lowest and highest 10 percent earning $31,710 and $81,080, respectively, per year (BLS.gov/oes, 2012). Work hours may be irregular and can include evenings and weekends, as well as paid overtime.
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Police and Detectives, March 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333031.htm
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Basic Qualification Requirements for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Careers, September 2010, http://www.fws.gov/humancapital/factsheetpdfs/QRFinal22Feb11.pdf
To learn more about becoming a fish and game warden, please visit our section on schools offering Legal Training for more information.