Career Choice: Fish and Game Wardens

Career Choice: Fish and Game Wardens
  • Type: Career Type
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    Law enforcement opportunities extend in several areas of public service including police departments and military service.

    And then there are fish and game wardens, security professionals that are sworn to enforce fish and game law violations.


Its a career path that students with police training might consider especially if they prefer to work outdoors and in a mostly natural environment.


Fish and game wardens may hold different titles such as wildlife manager, conservation officer, natural resource officer or wildlife officer. These individuals use a variety of conveyances to patrol their assigned areas including boats, cars, horses, airplanes and, of course, on foot.

Wardens investigate fish and game violations, issuing warnings or citations as needed. They’re tasked with educating the public in a bid to protect and preserve flora and fauna. When required, wardens may seize equipment, serve warrants, make arrests and present evidence in court to support their findings.

Wardens also liaise with the public, addressing students at schools, conducting townhall meetings, sharing information with the media and providing safety instruction for hunters and trappers. These professionals make recommendations regarding conservation management and inspect commercial operations for compliance when operating in sensitive areas.


Just as police officers pursue training most wardens do likewise. Indeed, about three-quarters of all wildlife officers hold a bachelor’s degree. When attending college, prospective wardens may major in criminal justice while also taking courses in biology.

Wardens are familiar with government regulations, public safety, biology and geography, and may have completed classes in customer relations, security and psychology. These professionals are expected to have good communication skills, and are expected to work independently as well as in a group setting.


Median wages for wardens was $48,070 as of 2012 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those in the 10th percentile earned $31,900 per year on average, while those in the 25th percentile averaged $38,100 per year. The average salary in 2012 was $48,100 per year. Salaries for wardens in the 75th percentile came in at $58,700 per year to $70,700 annually for those in the 90th percentile.

Warden opportunities are not available in all states. Indeed, the BLS notes that just 28 states supplied salary reporting information for this field.

Top wages were earned in New Jersey where wardens could expect to earn $82,300 per year. Maryland followed at $73,600, then California came in at $71,500, New York at $67,800 and Washington at $64,800 pear year. On the bottom of the pay spectrum was Georgia where these professionals averaged $30,200 per year. Florida at $37,100, North Carolina at $37,200 and South Dakota at $37,300 were among the other states where salary averages came in low.

Job Outlook

The BLS counts fewer than 8,000 individuals working as wardens. Its a specialized field, one that is expected to grow slowly through 2020 with approximately 200 new positions opening up. Other opportunities can be expected to open up as current wardens retire, move up the ranks or move over to other security fields.


Summary Report for: 33-3031.00 – Fish and Game Wardens

US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Police and Detectives

See AlsoCareer Choice: Police Patrol Officers


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Categories: Career Planning