Officially known as conservation enforcement officers, Alabama’s game wardens operate with the latest technology to ensure hunters, anglers, and other appreciators of the state’s wildlife play by the rules – those who do not will be found and prosecuted. Employed as part of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, game wardens conduct public education programs, safety and compliance patrols, and poaching investigations. Sponsored by the Alabama Wildlife Foundation, members of the public can report poaching to game wardens and receive up to a $2,500 reward as part of Operation GameWatch, just one of the programs in which game wardens participate.
With 22 state parks, four national forests, and marine environments such as Bankhead Lake and Mobile Bay, conservation enforcement officers have a constant and important job to do.
Learning how to become a game warden in Alabama is the first step interested residents can take towards an exciting and fulfilling career.
Qualifying for Game Warden Jobs with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Education – Job candidates who are rooted in a relevant educational background have a leg up no matter who the employer is. Applicants for game warden jobs in Alabama can add to their competitive credentials with a bachelor’s degree, which is a preferred qualification.
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Rasmussen College - Law Enforcement Associate's Degree and Post-Degree Certificates; Criminal Justice Bachelor's Degrees
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Utica College - Online Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice
- Penn Foster - Online Wildlife and Forestry Conservation Career Diploma
A major in any of these subjects is well suited to working as a game warden:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Criminal Justice
- Wildlife Management
- Land Management
- Law Enforcement
Application – Submitting an application to become a fish and game warden with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is easy. The first thing applicants need to do is ensure they meet a few minimum requirements for these fish and game warden jobs:
- Have six months of experience working in a conservation-related program, such as one that deals with hunting, fishing, boating and water safety, parks, or seafood
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be able to possess an Alabama driver’s license by the time of employment
- Have a good personal and employment history
Applications can be made online at any time. Applying involves creating an online account through which a candidate will need to take a civil service multiple-choice examination covering basic reading, writing, and problem-solving skills. This can be accomplished on the state’s employment webpage under the Continuous Announcements heading for conservation enforcement officers. Applicants must also submit a completed questionnaire with their application.
Applicants with attractive credentials and a good test score will be contacted by a recruiter and begin a hiring process that includes:
- Review and confirmation of credentials
- Background investigation
- Medical and psychological evaluation
- Panel interview
Training – Game warden training takes place in two phases. First, cadets will need to become Certified Peace Officers by completing a 520-hour Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) basic training academy. This takes place alongside law enforcement officers across the state and involves:
- Law enforcement techniques
- Firearms training
- Physical fitness testing
- Arrest and detention procedures
- Driving maneuvers
- Self defense
- Courtroom procedures
- Report writing
After graduating and POST Certification, new game wardens will begin on-the-job training with an experienced game warden. This will continue until the training warden verifies that the new conservation enforcement officer is ready to begin solo operations.
Game Warden Careers with the US Fish and Wildlife Service
Aside from employment at the state level, applicants also have the option of applying with the federal US Fish and Wildlife Service to become a Service Special Agent game warden. Applications can be submitted through the USA Jobs website when there are vacancies, and candidates will need to meet a set of minimum requirements that include:
- Being between the ages of 21-36
- Being willing to move anywhere in the United States
- Having a valid driver’s license
Federal game warden training also takes place in two phases- the first covering criminal investigations and wildlife law enforcement in Georgia, lasting 20 weeks. After this the new game wardens will be placed with a training officer for 44 weeks of additional field training.
Federal game wardens can be called for assistance anywhere in the state, and are particularly important when it comes to enforcing wildlife regulations in federally-managed territories such as:
- Conecuh National Forest
- Talladega National Forest
- Tuskegee National Forest
- William B. Bankhead National Forest
Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Recently Arrest 20 Poachers
Twenty poachers across the state were recently arrested and charged with more than 40 counts of wildlife law violations. Alabama’s conservation enforcement officers are always on the lookout for wildlife crimes and those who commit them. This determination combined with public tips can be costly for those stealing the state’s natural wildlife resources.
Cash rewards for tipsters can range from $50 to thousands of dollars, however these are small amounts when compared to the fines and restitution costs poachers must pay as part of their court sentences. Rewards serve the additional purpose of letting poachers know that members of the public have a financial incentive to report crimes.
Some common poaching charges leveled by conservation enforcement officers include:
- Using night vision to hunt
- Hunting from a public road
- Hunting at night
- Using a spotlight during hunting
- Hunting out of season
- Hunting on private property without permission
Alabama Wildlife Officer Salary
The Alabama Department of Labor reported a total of 140 wildlife officers in the state in 2019. The average salary for these professionals is $54,309 ($26.11/hr.). Experienced wildlife officers in the state earn an average of $59,479 ($28.60/hr.).
Wildlife officers working for Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are referred to as conservation enforcement officers.
The salary ranges for these professionals include:
- Conservation Enforcement officer, Trainee: $36,657-$55,615
- Conservation Enforcement Officer: $40,468-$61,303
- Conservation Enforcement Officer, Senior: $42,496-$64,406
- District Conservation Enforcement Officer – Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries: $51,621-$86,803
Salary and employment data compiled by the Alabama Department of Labor – http://www2.labor.alabama.gov/. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for wildlife officers. Data represents state salary ranges for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Salary data accessed in July 2019.