How to Become a Game Warden

Learn how to become a Game Warden, including job description, requirements, jobs, and salary information. Game Wardens and Conservation Officers are one in the same. Some states use the term Game Warden, while more states are using the term Conservation Officer.

Game Warden Job Description

Being a Game Warden is a way of life.

Game Wardens protect wildlife, fish, game, and even native flora. Game Wardens patrol back roads, setting up remote control decoys to catch illegal hunting and baiting practices by hunters willing to go too far and break the law; patrol rivers, lakes, hiking trails ensuring people are conducting themselves in a safe manner and not operating motor vehicles and boats under the influence of drung and alcohol; check hunter's licenses on opening season day to be sure they are not hunting illegally.

Game Wardens arrest or ticket illegal hunters, law breakers, investigate boating accidents, write reports, conduct forensic investigations, help with search and rescue operations, and more.

As a Game Warden, you wear a uniform, carry a firearm, and drive issued vehicles or ATV's or even operate helicopters to patrol your area. In most states a Game Warden has all of the same arresting authority a regular law enforcement officer does, plus additional duties to uphold the conservation and enforcement of wildlife and environmental laws. In many states, a Game Warden may conduct certain types of searches with or without a search warrant.

Often Game Wardens have a very physically demanding job, patrolling a vast area of wild territory and back country, needing to cover large amounts of land. You are exposed to extreme weather conditions at times, both hot or cold depending upon your state's climate. According to one game warden, "Some game wardens also conduct biological duties such as fish creel censuses, deer/elk/antelope population surveys, and migratory bird aerial surveys."

Game Warden Education Requirements

Since getting a job as a game warden is very competitive and there are very few job openings, the more education you have in a related field the better off you are. Degrees in Biology, Wildlife Management, Criminal Justice, or other related fields are the best choices if you desire to make your career as a Game Warden, or even becoming a Law Enforcement Officer while you wait for an opening as a Game Warden. Every state is different, but most have a Game Warden Academy Training that you must complete in order to apply for a job as a Game Warden. After being hired, you may even undergo more extensive specialized training from a seasoned warden.


Experience requirements will vary from state to state and their requirements. In order to become a game warden, you will need to be in good physical condition, as you will be patrolling both on and off roads, back roads, and wild woods or other uninhabited area. As a Game Warden, you will need to be prepared to make arrests and write citations and tickets for illegal activity, enforcing the law in the same way as other police officers would. Many states have given game wardens the same law enforcement authority as regular police officers and state officers, only Game Wardens have an added element of conserving wildlife and game.

Salary Information

As of May 2011, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported the national average annually for a Game Warden as being $26.77 an hour, and $55,670 annually.

Game Warden Jobs

There are not as many employment opportunities as a Game Warden, not nearly as many as a traditional police officer or other related careers. In 2011, there were 7,180 people employed as a game wardens in the United States. So these jobs are very competitive, and people targeting these jobs often have a degree in Biology, Wildlife Management or Criminal Justice and/ or other related fields.

Other Resources

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association

Recommended reading from Game Warden Tom McKay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent

  • Wildlife Wars: The Life and Times of a Fish and Game Warden by Terry Grosz
  • For Love of Wildness: The Journal of a U.S. Game Management Agent by Terry Grosz