The law enforcement division of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) employs game wardens, who are referred to as conservation officers in Mississippi. Conservation officers are responsible for enforcing fish, game and environmental laws and regulation and for ensuring the safety of Mississippi’s natural resources as well as the people who enjoy them.
Steps to Becoming a Conservation Officer in Mississippi
The following requirements must be met in order to qualify for the job as conservation officer in Mississippi:
64 semester hours from an accredited four-year college/university
Associate’s degree from an accredited two-year college
Graduation from Mississippi Law Officer Enforcement Training Academy PLUS five years law enforcement experience
Mississippi is home to eight public and 10 private accredited four-year colleges or universities and 16 accredited two-year community colleges. Mississippians interested in a career as a conservation officer are very fortunate that universities in the state offer a major in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science which covers the basics of biology, ecology, natural resource management, social science and computer science. The major’s six areas of concentration are:
- Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
- Conservation Law Enforcement
- Wildlife Veterinary Medicine
- Wildlife Pre-Veterinary Medicine
- Wildlife-Aquaculture Conservation
- Human-Wildlife Conflicts
- At least 21 years old
- Valid driver’s license from Mississippi or another US state
- No felony convictions
- No misdemeanor convictions for moral turpitude or wildlife violations
- Physically fit and able to swim
- No dishonorable discharge from the military
- Able to pass drug and alcohol screening
- Complete Hiring Process
- Participate in new recruit training
Participate in New Recruit Training:
Those who are accepted for game warden jobs in Mississippi are required to take part in a dual training program consisting of:
- A 10-week basic law enforcement training at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Academy at Camp Shelby, MS. Cadets must remain at the facility from Sunday morning through Thursday afternoon of each week. Graduates must earn at least 70 percent on the final exam.
- An 11-week Basic Wildlife and Fisheries course taught by MS Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries personnel. Students stay at the school from Monday morning through Friday afternoon each week.
- Grand Canyon University - B.S. in Justice Studies and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- SNHU - Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- 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
Duties and Responsibilities of Conservation Officers in Mississippi
Mississippi conservation officers have the following responsibilities and duties:
- Enforce state hunting and fishing laws/regulations
- Enforce marine, wildlife and fisheries laws
- Enforce boating and water safety laws
- Teach hunting, boating, archery and other outdoor recreation classes
- Help landowners manage natural resources on their property
- Engage in public relations via personal contact with nature lovers and speaking engagements at schools, churches, civic groups and career fairs
- Arrest perpetrators of serious, criminal offenses
- Protect wildlife, especially endangered species
It is noted that conservation efforts have been responsible for the recovery of the endangered American alligator. Conservation officers monitor the population of between 32,000 and 38,000 alligators who call “The Magnolia State” home. These reptiles are considerably larger in Mississippi than in other states with 20 percent of the population reaching lengths over 10 feet.
How to Apply for a Conservation Officer Job in Mississippi
Applications can be submitted online or by mail. Online applications are available at the state personnel department website. Applications can also be received from and mailed to the MS State Personnel Board, 210 E. Capitol Street, Suite 800, Jackson, MS; 601-359-1406. Accepted applications are placed on an eligibility list and contacted when hiring is taking place, which is normally once a year.
The following are steps in the hiring process. Each step must be successfully completed before moving on to the next.
- STEP 1: All accepted applicants receive a pre-interview packets containing a cover letter and list of instructions. The packet must be returned with copies of a valid driver’s license, social security card, proof of educational requirement, proof of selective service registration (males only) and completed physical exam worksheet filled out and signed by a licensed physician (exam is at applicant’s expense)
- STEP 2: Physical fitness test and swimming test
- STEP 3: Background investigation
- STEP 4: Personal interview
- STEP 5: Complete training as described above
Cadets receive a salary of $1,980 a month while in training after which conservation officers earn an annual starting salary of $28,825 plus state benefits which include insurance, paid holidays/vacations and a public employer’s retirement plan.
Mississippi’s Natural Resources
The state has a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities for anglers, hunters, boaters, hikers, campers, swimmers, water skiers, birdwatchers, etc. Places for recreational activities include:
- Gulf of Mexico – Southern Mississippi boasts 62 miles of scenic Gulf of Mexico shoreline that includes the longest (26 miles) manmade beach in the world.
- Lakes – MS has 14 inland lands ideal for swimming, boating, fishing and water-skiing. At 358.20 acres, Grenada is the largest lake within state boundaries.
- Rivers – There are 35 significant rivers and 39 small rivers/creeks. The largest rivers are the Mississippi, Pearl, Pascagoula and Tombigbee Rivers.
- Forests – Mississippi Headwaters is the only state forest although there are six national forests protected by federal game wardens.
- Parks – Mississippi is home to 22 state parks.
- Wildlife Areas – Conservation officers also oversee four wildlife areas and 16 wildlife management areas.
Mississippi Wildlife Officer Salary
The conservation officers of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) begin their careers as trainees/cadets, who earn an annual salary of $24,422.
Upon the successful completion of all required training, cadets move on to become a Conservation Officer I, which includes a starting salary of $31,993.
According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, conservation officers in the state earn an average salary of $43,490 and an experienced average salary of $47,230.
Salary and employment data compiled by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security – https://mdes.ms.gov/. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for conservation 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.