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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in Massachusetts

While all fish and game wardens combine expertise in natural resources with law enforcement training, those in Massachusetts have a number of additional roles. Game wardens, known as environmental police officers of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, are the primary enforcement agents for laws and regulations relating to boats and recreational vehicles.

State game wardens patrol the inland waters, those along the coast, as well as forests and parks throughout the state.  This includes the area around Cape Cod and 45 wildlife management areas such as Birch Hill.  Federal land in Massachusetts includes 11 national wildlife refuges, including ones in Nantucket and on the Assabet River.

The environmental police work closely with other state agencies as part of the Environmental Crimes Strike Force. This involves working undercover to investigate crimes such as illegally disposing of hazardous and solid waste and violating the statutes for the protection of wetlands.

Becoming a Game Warden for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sets high standards for those seeking jobs as environmental police officers.  In addition to meeting several basic requirements, applicants must have either a substantial amount of experience or college credits.

These requirements are described below.

Basic Requirements:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Not having any felony convictions
  • Having a high school education
  • Possessing a valid Massachusetts Class D driver’s license by the time of appointment
  • Being able to qualify for a Firearms Class A license

Experience Requirement:

At least two years of full-time or the equivalent part-time experience in one of the following or a related area:

  • Biological or environmental science
  • Conservation law enforcement
  • Ecology
  • Forestry
  • Marine science
  • Natural resources conservation or management
  • Wildlife or fisheries conservation or management

Education Substitution Permitted: 

Applicants can substitute relevant types of education for the required experience.  Two years of education (30 semester hours or the equivalent) will substitute for one year of experience.

Thus, an associate’s degree can substitute for one year of experience, while a bachelor’s or higher degree can substitute for two years if the degree is in one of the following or a related field:

  • Biology
  • Conservation law enforcement
  • Ecology
  • Forestry
  • Management of:
    • Fisheries
    • Natural Resources
    • Wildlife
    • Oceanography

Civil Service Examination and Training: 

To start the application process and become a game warden for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, all applicants must first pass the civil service examination for Environmental Police Officer A & B when it is offered.

Candidates who score highly on the civil service exam and are appointed as full time environmental police officers must go through two phases of training that are described below:

  • Law enforcement training:
    • Training at a police academy approved by the Municipal Police Training Committee
  • Lifesaving training:
    • Successfully completing an American Red Cross or YMCA program
    • Approved by the Massachusetts Environmental Police Office of Law Enforcement

Becoming a Federal Game Warden in Massachusetts

Those seeking federal game warden jobs in Massachusetts must meet the U.S. Fish and Game Service requirements to qualify as “special agents.”  These requirements are described in more detail below:

Basic Requirements:

  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Age requirement of being 21-36 years old
    • Older veterans and federal law enforcement officers may be able to apply
    • Selective service registration

Educational Requirement:

  • At least four years of a college education in a field such as:
    • Police science
    • Criminal justice
    • Wildlife management

Training Processes:

  • Training to become LEOs:
    • FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Program)—22 weeks
  • Game warden training:
    • On the job training—44 weeks at the first post of duty


Massachusetts Wildlife Officer Salary

Massachusetts’ environmental police officers work out of six bureaus within the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game: Coastal Enforcement, Inland Enforcement, Boat/RV/Snowmobile Registration, Boat and Recreational Vehicle Safety, Marine Theft, and Environmental Crimes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental police officers in Massachusetts earned a median salary of $55,610 as of 2018. The 25thpercentile earned an average salary of $68,980 and the top 10thpercentile earned an average salary of $80,680.

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 – https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes333031.htm. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for fish and game wardens. BLS salary data represents state average and median earnings 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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