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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in Maine

Maine was home to the fourth highest concentration of game wardens in the nation in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total number of game wardens during this time was 130, with an average salary of $58,800 – about $1,000 higher than the national average.

People come from all over the world to visit Maine’s rich and diverse natural resources that include the following:

  • 3,400 miles of coastline
  • 6,000 ponds and lakes
  • The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
    • Up to 330,000 people visit this refuge each year
    • The Appalachian Trail

Game wardens throughout the state enforce the following types of activities:

  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Fishing
  • Recreational vehicle use

In addition to their roles as stewards of Maine’s fish and wildlife, state game wardens are in charge of all search and rescue operations and are nationally recognized for this expertise. As certified law enforcement officers, these men and women have the authority to enforce all state laws including those applying to motor vehicles and issues of domestic violence.

Becoming a Game Warden for the State of Maine

As the oldest conservation law enforcement agency in the country, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Warden Service takes great care in selecting its game wardens.

The state seeks candidates with the following characteristics:

  • Good life experience
  • Strong moral character
  • Sound judgment
  • A strong understanding of outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing
  • A knowledge of recreational vehicles

The state of Maine hires game wardens about once a year.  Interested parties can submit their information to the Maine Warden Service and be notified when the agency is hiring.  The hiring process can take up to six months and is described below.

Basic Requirements – Applicants must be 21 years old unless they have 60 college credits.  Then, they can be 20 years old.  While a college degree is not required, the process to be hired as a game warden is highly competitive.  Many applicants obtain degrees in fields such as criminal justice or biology.

Oral Board Exam – The first step in the application process is taking the comprehensive oral board exam.  There are many components to this process including the following:

  • Practical knowledge of the outdoors
  • Hypothetical scenarios to see how the applicants process real life situations
  • A typed essay on a topic provided that day
    • The Maine Department of Education reviews the essay looking for:
      • Adequate writing skills
      • Computer knowledge

Hiring Process – After they have passed the oral board exam, the agency thoroughly vets prospective candidates with the following measures:

    • Comprehensive background check
      • Military service
      • Work history
      • Education
      • Records of:
        • Motor vehicles
        • Criminal history
        • Finances

 

  • References
  • Polygraph test
  • Psychological exam
  • Physical exam
  • Additional interviews

Training – Applicants who pass this process undergo two phases of training.  The first one may be waived, depending on the law enforcement experience of the applicant.

  • 18 weeks of Basic Law Enforcement Training Program (BLETP)
  • 12 weeks of Advanced Warden Academy

 

Becoming a Federal Game Warden in Maine

The federal government made wildlife trafficking a national priority in 2014.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement employs game wardens in Maine.  These professionals are certified law enforcement officers with a great deal of knowledge of both federal and state wildlife laws.

Basic Requirements – The federal government has strict requirements for law enforcements officers who join all federal agencies, including the Fish & Wildlife Service.  These include the following:

  • Age requirements:
    • At least 21
    • No older than 36 unless the applicant is one of the following:
      • A veteran
      • A federal law enforcement officer
  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Being registered for Selective Service if appropriate

Educational Requirements – Prospective federal game wardens must have four years of college in a relevant field such as criminal justice or wildlife management.

Training Requirements – New recruits are thoroughly trained for dual roles of serving in law enforcement and being stewards of fish and wildlife.  The federal government provides two phases of training to its game wardens that are shown below:

  • 20 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  • 44 weeks of Field Training at their first post of duty


Maine Game Warden Salary

The jobs of the game wardens of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Bureau of the Warden Service include enforcement, investigation, and search and rescue. The Bureau is home to 125 game wardens who work throughout the state’s five field operations division and eight specialty teams.

The salary range for game wardens in Maine is $44,033-$59,030.

The salary range for game warden investigators/specialists is $47,153-$63,398 working out of the following specialty teams:

  • Aviation team
  • Dive team
  • K9 team
  • Special investigations
  • Evidence recovery team
  • Firearms team
  • Forensic mapping team
  • Honor Guard
  • Incident Management Team

The salary range for a game warden sergeant is $46,654-$63,939, and the salary range for a game warden lieutenant is $52,665-$72,259.

Some of the benefits of working as a Maine game warden include:

  • 25-year retirement system – Game wardens receive retire at 50% of their maximum salary, and employees working more than 25 years receive an additional 2% of retirement pay for each year worked
  • Pay incentive for job-related college degrees
  • Overtime opportunities
  • Dental insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Retirement

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the Maine Bureau of Human Resources, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife in July 2019 – https://www.maine.gov/bhr/ and https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes333031.htm and https://www.maine.gov/ifw/warden-service/. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for game wardens. 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.

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