From the Green Mountain Forest to Lake Champlain, game wardens in Vermont have the important responsibility of keeping both wildlife and sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts safe. This means enforcing boating, hunting, and fishing laws while at the same time being adept at emergency medical procedures and the use of technology for locating and rescuing people in distress. Employed by the Law Enforcement Division of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, game wardens patrol thousands of square miles of territory.
Learning how to become a game warden in Vermont is the first step interested applicants can take along their path towards an important career.
Game Wardens with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Meeting Initial Requirements – Working for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department means meeting some initial game warden requirements. Before submitting an application, candidates should ensure they meet the minimum employment prerequisites:
- 20 college credit hours combined with a high school diploma or GED. This may be substituted for with proof of a high school education and one of the following:
- At least one year of law enforcement experience
- At least one year of full time military duty with an acceptable discharge
- At least two years of full time work experience
- Have normal hearing and vision correctable to normal
- Be physically fit
- Be a US citizen with a valid driver’s license
Federal applicants, in a process that will be detailed later, are shown preference if they have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to Wildlife Management or Criminal Justice, such as:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Law Enforcement
- Police Science
Training – Game warden training in Vermont starts at the Police Academy in Pittsford with two evaluations and a physical fitness exam:
- Vermont Police Academy Entrance Exam at a cost of $30, with a passing score considered to be 70 percent of 100 multiple-choice questions covering:
- Judgment and reasoning
- Mathematics and mathematical reasoning
- Reading comprehension
- Report writing
- MMPI-2 Psychological Assessment at a cost of $25
- Physical fitness assessment:
- Bench press
- 1.5-mile run
Once new hires have made it over these initial hurdles they will need to complete a three-phase training process within their first year of hire. This is comprised of:
- 58-hour basic training segment
- 50 hours of elective training
- 60 hours of game warden field training.
Subject areas covered during training include:
- Professional demeanor
- Investigative procedures
- Patrol techniques
- Physical fitness
- Wildlife laws and regulations
- Crime scene investigation
Every year game wardens will also be required to complete refresher training courses provided by the Fish and Wildlife Department.
Application with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department – Applications for game warden jobs with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department are made online through the state’s Department of Human Resources. Through this website applicants can search for open game warden jobs and create an online account for an application. After an application has been accepted and is deemed to be qualifying, the candidate will be contacted about continuing further in the application process, which includes:
- Background investigation
- Medical examination
- Psychological evaluation
Game Warden Positions with the US Fish and Wildlife Service Office
Aside from state game warden jobs, there is also the option to apply for federal positions. Similarly named, though completely different from its state counterpart, the federal US Fish and Wildlife Service Office is the agency in charge of hiring federal game wardens. Applications can be made through the USA Jobs website for the officially-titled position of US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agents.
Applicants who would like to become a fish and game warden in Vermont at the federal level are encouraged to study for a bachelor degree in a field related to Criminal Justice or Wildlife Management, as these are stated preferences for employment. Applicants must also be US citizens between the ages of 21-36.
Training for federal game wardens takes place in two phases, with the first being 20 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. This is subsequently followed with 44 weeks spent one-on-one with an experienced training officer in the field.
Game Wardens as Crime Fighters in Vermont
Some of the major illegal activities game wardens deal with in Vermont is spotlighting and its related crime of shooting from within a vehicle. Spotlighting involves shining a bright light – often a spotlight wired into a vehicle’s electrical system or vehicle headlights – into a field or clearing. If deer or other big game are present they will be temporarily blinded by the bright light and freeze where they are, making an easy target for poachers. Spotlighting, shooting a firearm from a vehicle, and possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle are all illegal in Vermont. Other incidents related to these crimes included:
The arrests of three men from Shelburne, South Burlington and Starksboro on poaching charges after game wardens discovered five illegally killed deer while acting on a tip from a concerned hunter.
The arrest of a Barton man on charges related to poaching as well as attempting to elude a game warden. The arrest was made following an investigation into reports of illegal hunting in Craftsbury.
Vermont Wildlife Officer Salary
Information released by the Vermont Department of Labor in 2013 found that the median fish and game warden salary in Vermont was $51,570, which compared favorably to the national average of $48,070.
Salaries among game wardens in the top 25th and 90th percentiles were $57,480 and $62,270 respectively.
The State of Vermont, Department of Human Resources, provides very detailed information regarding the salaries of game wardens in the state. Here, we get a better look at exactly how their salaries are structured (2013):
Game Warden I
Step 1: $33,384
Step 3: $36,067
Step 5: $38,480
Step 7: $41,059
Step 9: $43,700
Step 11: $46,217
Step 13: $48,776
Step 15: $51,604
Game Warden II
Step 1: $41,308
Step 3: $44,844
Step 5: $47,840
Step 7: $51,064
Step 9: $54,475
Step 11: $57,553
Step 13: $60,944
Step 15: $64,500
Game Warden III
Step 1: $43,721
Step 3: $47,590
Step 5: $50,668
Step 7: $54,038
Step 9: $57,678
Step 11: $61,048
Step 13: $64,584
Step 15: $68,307