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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in Ohio

The Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources protects and manages the natural resources in the state.  While many of the state’s residents take advantage of these resources through activities such as photography and watching wildlife, 1.48 million of Ohio’s citizens are hunters and anglers.

Fish and game wardens in Ohio perform a critical role in enforcing laws related to hunting and fishing.  In addition, these certified law enforcement officers work closely with biologists to help manage the populations of fish and wildlife.  They also educate the public and keep them informed of current wildlife issues.

One hundred and forty such professionals worked in Ohio in 2012 according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  This includes both wildlife officers who worked for the Division of Wildlife and federal game wardens from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  Their efforts to protect wildlife in Ohio are part of a renewed national emphasis on cracking down on wildlife crime.

The competition to obtain game warden jobs in Ohio is intense, and information on how to go about obtaining these types of positions is shown below.

Joining The Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Wildlife officers in Ohio are the public face of the Division of Wildlife, and the agency seeks highly knowledgeable candidates of unquestionable character who have a strong work ethic.

The state only accepts applications when the position has been posted on the Division of Wildlife website.  Applicants must meet the basic requirements before they can be invited to test for a wildlife officer position.  Those who exceed these requirements with a high level of education and/or experience are more likely to be selected as game wardens.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Being 21 years old by the time peace officer training is completed

Educational Requirements:

  • One of the following:
    • An associate’s degree
    • Having completed core undergraduate coursework in one of the following or a related area:
      • Biology
      • Criminal justice
      • Environmental science
      • Fisheries
      • Law enforcement
      • Wildlife

Desired Knowledge and Abilities:

    • Life histories, conservation practices, and habitat for common fish and wildlife species in Ohio
    • Methods of hunting, fishing, and trapping
    • Being able to work closely with the following types of organizations:
      • Local law enforcement
      • Conservation groups

 

  • Being able to write clearly and prepare records and reports
  • Being able to work with limited supervision
  • Using and maintaining the following items:
    • ATVs
    • Boats
    • Four wheel drive trucks
    • Firearms

Selection Process to Become a Wildlife Officer:

  • High score on the exam
  • Intensive background check
  • Drug screening
  • Psychological exam
  • Physical exam
  • Polygraph test
  • Meeting physical fitness and swim standards

Training for Wildlife Officers and Cadets:

    • Orientation training
      • Division of Wildlife Headquarters (1 week)

 

  • Training academy
    • The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (about 25 weeks)
      • Basic Peace Officer Training (16 weeks)
      • Wildlife Officer Pre-Service Training Academy (8-9 weeks)

Training for Wildlife Officers:

  • Field training and evaluation (6 months)
    • After assignment to anywhere in the state

 

Federal Game Wardens with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement

Game wardens for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement are highly screened and trained federal law enforcement officers.

Basic Requirements:

  • U.S. citizens
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Age of:
    • 21 at a minimum
    • 36 at the most

Educational Requirements:

  • Four years of study in one of the following or a related field:
    • Law enforcement
    • Wildlife management
    • Criminal justice

Training Requirements:

    • Law enforcement training:
      • 20 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

 

  • Game warden training:
    • 44 weeks of field training at the first post of duty

 

Ohio’s Turn in a Poacher Program

In 1982, Ohio began a program that allows its citizens to anonymously report wildlife crimes such as poaching.  This illegal activity is a problem throughout the U.S., and the federal government estimates that fewer than 10% of these types of crimes are reported.  Law enforcement officials in Ohio have found that poachers frequently not only harvest wildlife illegally, but also shoot livestock and break into vehicles or homes.

The Turn in a Poacher (TIP) program operates like many other efforts throughout the U.S.  It protects both the wildlife of Ohio and the economic benefits the state receives from hunting and fishing.

Calls are kept confidential, and the TIP program provides rewards when the information leads to a poacher’s conviction.  Supporters of TIP include businesses, clubs, and individuals who value the wildlife resources of Ohio.


Ohio Wildlife Officer Salary

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Labor Market Information site, in 2013 the median Ohio wildlife officer salary was $47,220. The average entry-level salary that year was $40,185.

Those in the top 25% earned an average of 22% more annually at $51,688 as of 2013. Based on the salary data obtained from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in 2013, the Cleveland area is one of the more lucrative for wildlife officers in Ohio:

Cincinnati MSA

Entry: $34,756
Median: $41,444
Top 25%: $50,897
Cleveland MSA

Entry: $44,948
Median: $54,405
Top 25%: $59,924
The salary information here, supplied by the Ohio Hiring Management System in 2013, details the minimum and maximum salaries that Ohio’s wildlife officers were paid that year:

Wildlife Officer Cadet

Minimum: $35,006
Maximum: $41,953
Wildlife Officer

Minimum: $43,929
Maximum: $55,390
Wildlife Officer Program Manager

Minimum: $52,832
Maximum: $68,972

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