Game wardens in the state of Missouri work for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Called conservation agents, they are responsible for both law enforcement and resource management.
Steps to Becoming a Conservation Agent in Missouri
Meeting the Basic Requirements – The basic requirements needed to qualify for a job as a conservation agent in Missouri are:
- At least 21 years old
- U.S. citizen or alien authorized to work in the U.S.
- Able to pass a criminal background check
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Good health
- Able to pass physical strength test
Degree Requirements – Applicants for game warden jobs in Missouri must have a Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited four-year college or university in wildlife conservation, ecology, biology, resource management, forestry, fisheries management, natural resource conservation, law enforcement or criminal justice.
Missouri is home to 67 accredited degree-granting postsecondary schools, including 13 public universities, 39 private four-year colleges or universities and 13 two-year community colleges. Missourians can also take advantage of earning a degree from an accredited online school.
The MDC offers summer internships to talented students at both the undergraduate and graduate level. It is an excellent opportunity for students to become acquainted with conservation work. Many student interns become future MDC employees.
Take/Pass the Physical Strength Test – Every applicant for the position of conservation agent must successfully pass a physical fitness test comprised of the following elements:
- Run constantly for over two minutes
- Run up and down stairs
- Bend and twist
- Dodge obstacles
- Crawl under obstacles
- Jump/vault over obstacles
- Climb fences
- Lift/carry, drag human victims
- Remove a large dead animal from the roadway
- Remove injured persons from motor vehicles or buildings
- Enter and exit all sorts of land vehicles and watercraft
- Know self-defense tactics
Participate in Conservation Agent Training – New recruits are required to complete 26 weeks of intensive training in Jefferson City. Training focuses on both law enforcement and resource management. In addition to instructors from the MDC, students are trained by members of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Missouri Water Patrol and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Recruits complete 1,000 hours of Peace Officers Standard Training (POST) as well as field work in each section of the state, including:
- Fish and wildlife training in Columbia
- Forestry training in Licking
- Water safety training in Lake of the Ozarks
- 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 Agents in Missouri
All of the following are responsibilities and duties of a conservation agent:
Natural Resource Law Enforcement
- Field patrol
- Check hunters and anglers for violations
- Investigate reported violations
- Conduct special investigations
- Enforce state laws/statutes re natural resources
- Apprehend violators/assist prosecutors
- Speak at civic organization meetings, sports clubs, etc.
- Provide safety instructions to hunters
- Appear on radio and TV shows
- Organize booths at fairs and other exhibits
- Give presentation at schools
- Conduct wildlife surveys and censuses
- Investigate complaints re damage to wildlife or their habitat
- Work with landowners to improve wildlife habitat
- Investigate wildlife disease outbreaks
- Assist injured animals
- Investigate disease outbreaks/pollution
- Inspect farm ponds
- Assist with fish stocking and distribution
- Manage community lakes
- Assist private owners with forest development
- Help investigate suspected forest fire arson
- Assist with drowning
- Provide first aid to injured individuals
- Assist with flood rescues
How to Apply for a Conservation Agent Job in Missouri
To begin the job application process visit the MDC Employment Opportunities website to create a profile and fill out an application. It is important to enter all requested information into the Employment Opportunity System. Applicants will be notified of a time and place to take the physical strength test (described above) and for a personal interview. Accepted applicants will be placed on an eligibility list and contacted when the next 10-person training session will be offered. There is a great deal of competition for conservation agent jobs.
Conservation officers earn annual salaries of $30,754 to $90,202. Benefits include life, medical and dental insurance; paid holidays, vacations and sick leave; state retirement plan; credit union; and tuition reimbursement.
It is pointed out that the MDC employs many other professional specialists, including:
- Resource Scientists/Technicians
- Fisheries Managers
- Wildlife Management Biologists
- Outdoor Skills Specialists
- Conservation Educators
Natural Resources and Wildlife in Missouri
Missouri has an abundance of natural resources and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, water-skiing, river rafting, camping, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tobogganing and bird watching. The Show Me State’s natural resources include:
Lakes – Important lakes include Bull Shoals, Clearwater, Mark Twain, Table Rock, Truman and Stockton Lakes, as well as Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Pomme de Terre, Lake Taneycomo and Lake Wappapello. The popular Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri covers 55,000 miles and boasts 1,150 miles of shoreline. It is referred to as “The Magic Dragon” because of its serpentine shape.
Mountains – The Ozark Mountains cover much of the southern half of the state. The smaller Saint Francois Range rises over the Ozark Plateau.
Rivers – Missouri has a total of 86 border and inland rivers, the largest being the Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and White Rivers. The rivers are especially popular for canoeing, fly fishing and river rafting.
Forests – Missouri enjoys over 14 million acres of forests of which 85 percent are on privately owned land and 15 percent on government land. The federal government owns 12 percent of the forests which are protected by federal game wardens and three percent that are under the jurisdiction of Missouri conservation agents.
Missouri Wildlife Officer Salary
The conservation agents of the Missouri Department of Conservation earn a starting salary of $39,468 as cadets.
After the six-month training period, these professionals are eligible to move to Conservation Agent I, which comes with an average salary of $46,592. From there, average salaries increase along with conservation agent rank:
- Conservation Agent I: $46,592
- Conservation Agent II: $49,712
- Conservation Agent III: $56,264
Conservation agents may also earn promotions to the following positions:
- Protection District Supervisor
- Protection Regional Supervisor
- Protection Programs Specialist
- Protection Programs Supervisor
- Protection Field Chief
- Protection Division Chief
Just some of the benefits available to Missouri’s conservation agents include:
- Paid vacation
- Paid sick leave/holidays
- Group life insurance/health insurance
- Workers’ compensation
- Long-term disability insurance
- Paid retirement programs
- Deferred compensation program
Salary and employment data compiled by the Missouri Accountability Portal – https://mapyourtaxes.mo.gov/MAP/Employees/. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for conservation agents. 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.