How to Become a Fish and Game Warden

Fish and Game Warden Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $57,860
Avg. Pay / hour $27.82
Education 2-4 Years
Job Outlook 4.3%

Fish and Game Wardens are state employees who are responsible for the patrolling and management of a specifically assigned area.

Their goal is to protect this area by enforcing Fish and Game laws enacted by the individual state they work for.

Fish and Game Wardens are considered part of law enforcement with the unique responsibility of enforcing rules and regulations that are geared to help protect wildlife and fish species.

These professionals work outdoors is an assigned wildlife area and are able to cite and arrest individuals who are breaking the law.

Residents accused of killing or injuring a protected animal can be cited or arrested by a Fish and Game Warden.

People who want to become a Fish and Game Warden need to be able to spend a long time outdoors in order to patrol their assigned area.

They spend a lot of their time on foot in all sorts of weather conditions in order to protect wildlife.

Some typical areas they patrol include: Lakes, Urban Areas, Deserts, Mountains, and Rivers.

Fish and Game Wardens help protect the environment and its inhabitants by enforcing laws and regulations set forth by the state or government they work for.

Education Requirements to Become a Fish and Game Warden

Candidates must follow specific directions in order to become a Fish and Game Warden as this position is a part of law enforcement.

In fact, the minimum educational requirement to become a Fish and Game Warden for most states is an Associate’s Degree, which usually takes two years to complete.

Candidates interested in this career should acquire an Associate’s Degree in biology, wildlife management or similar track from an accredited institution.

Some states also require candidates to have experience or training in a similar field.

Candidates can fulfill this requirement by having serviced in a military branch or by participating and completing a police academy program.

Employers can also hire based on several other qualifications such as physical.

Because having a career as a Fish and Game Warden requires you to be able to withstand the outdoor elements and perform extensive patrolling, candidates should be able to meet certain physical demands.

Certain characteristics may include having good vision and hearing.

Some employers may look into whether a candidate knows how to swim in case they get assigned to patrolling an area with a lake or river.

Certain states also look at candidates who are bilingual and fluent in a second language.
Potential Fish and Game Warden must be knowledgeable of gaming and hunting laws in their individual state.

Fish and Game Warden Job Description

Fish and Game Warden are a part of law enforcement and focus on making sure the public is following rules and regulations geared towards protecting the environment.

They do this by patrolling their assigned area which can include areas such as lakes, mountains, deserts or other natural environment.

Fish and Game Wardens can write citations for minor offenses and can arrest perpetrators that have committed more serious crimes, such as hunting and killing a protected species.

Fish and Game Wardens can also investigate committed crimes, write reports and use firearms if needed.

Specific activity that Fish and Game Wardens look out for include: hunting activity, boating and fishing, investigating inappropriate disposal of waste or hazardous materials and handle problems with homeland security in some instances.

Fish and Game Warden Salary and Career Path

The majority of Fish and Game Wardens work for a state government.

They must be able to enforce the laws set forth by their state government in order to protect wildlife and its species.

Wages and salary depends on each individual state.

The top highest paying urban areas include Las Vegas, Nevada, Tallahassee, Florida and the Nashville, Tennessee areas.

The national salary figure for Fish and Game Wardens begins in the low $31,000 to approximately $81,250 annually.

Job growth for the law enforcement sector is expected to be average throughout the next decade and is mainly due to population growth.

A competitive candidate will fulfill physical, personal and psychological characteristics.

In addition, bilingual candidates with a Bachelor’s degree and several years of experience will have the best opportunities.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Jersey$82,400
New York$67,870
North Carolina$52,880
North Dakota$70,890
South Dakota$49,280
West Virginia$49,950

The top earning state in the field is New Jersey, where the average salary is $82,400.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Jersey - $82,400
California - $82,120
Washington - $78,080
Illinois - $76,800
Hawaii - $72,530
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Fish and Game Wardens, OCC Code 33-3031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a fish and game warden do?

A fish and game warden is a specially trained person who is assigned a certain territory and enforces fish and game laws and regulations.

In most cases, the professionals carry a government-issued firearm and have the authority to arrest the people that have violated the regulations.

There are state and federal fish and game wardens.

State game wardens work for each state’s parks, fish, and wildlife department; federal game wardens are special agents that work for a federal agency within the Department of the Interior (the U.S. fish and wildlife service).

The typical responsibilities of a fish and game warden usually include investigating the land; collecting data for wildlife research purposes; arresting violators and their equipment; assisting with search and rescue operations; issuing hunting and fishing licenses, and so on.

How much do fish and game wardens make?

On average, a fish and game warden can make a little less than $58.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $40.000 and $80.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

The fish and game wardens that work in Illinois, California, and Washington, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level fish and game warden can earn $19 per hour, while a specialist with plenty of experience will make $38.50 and more.

How much does it cost to become a fish and game warden?

A lot of employers prefer the candidate to have an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (ecology, wildlife biology, wildlife or natural resource conservation, environmental science, criminal justice), in order to become a fish and game warden.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

What is the demand for fish and game wardens?

Between 2016 and 2026, the fish and game warden job market is expected to grow by 4.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a little slower than the national average for all occupations in the United States.

The career will be providing poor employment opportunities in the near future.

The candidates that hold a degree will have better job prospects.

Bear in mind that the industry is mainly concentrated in Texas, New York, and California.

How long does it take to become a fish and game warden?

It will take you 2 years to earn an associate’s degree and 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Volunteering at wildlife conservations and other organizations can be helpful.

Each state will have different requirements and training protocols.

However, in the majority of locations, aspiring fish and game warden have to be at least 21 years old and be able to operate any type of motor vehicle.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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