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How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in New Jersey

Robo-Deer, busting poachers, rescuing hikers: it’s all in a day’s work for New Jersey’s game wardens. Dating back to 1871, these officers belong to the oldest law enforcement agency in the state. The New Jersey Division of Wildlife, a branch of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, employs conservation officers to patrol the state’s 8,723 square miles and ensure the great outdoors are respected and used responsibly by all.

Not only does the job pay well, it’s fun too. Recent operations have included apprehensions of would-be poachers in the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area thanks to Robo-Deer, the Department’s roadside decoy with remote-controlled movements designed to lure poachers, and routinely intervening in the poaching of striped bass on the Manasquan River.

Requirements for Becoming a Game Warden with the New Jersey Division
of Fish & Wildlife

The state of New Jersey has stringent requirements for those seeking jobs as fish and game wardens with the Division of Fish & Wildlife.  Interested individuals are encouraged to apply when there is a vacancy in any area, even if they are looking for positions in other parts of the state.  Once they have passed the state’s examination, they will be on a list for future vacancies.

Educational Requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas:
    • Biological sciences
    • Environmental science
    • Environmental study
    • Natural resources management
  • 24 semester hour credits in a combination of one of the following areas:
    • Biological science
    • Ecology
    • Fisheries science
    • Natural resource management
    • Wildlife science

Experience Requirement:

  • One year in one of the following areas:
    • Environmental enforcement activities
    • Environmental science
    • Fisheries science
    • Law enforcement
    • Wildlife science

Special Requirements:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Being a U.S. citizen

Training Requirements:

  • Police training by either one of the following:
    • Completing the New Jersey State Police training course
    • Attending another accredited police academy that has been certified by the Police Training Commission
      • Trainees must become proficient in the use of firearms
        • Quarterly recertification is required
  • Division of Fish & Wildlife Training
    • Completing an eight week training course
      • Fish & wildlife rules
      • Regulations of the position

Requirements to Become a Federal Game Warden in New Jersey

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement employs officers who work as federal game wardens in New Jersey.  They are trained in both wildlife management and law enforcement.

Basic Requirements:

  • Age of 21 to 36
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Selective service registration (if appropriate)

Educational Requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a field such as:
    • Criminal justice
    • Police science
    • Wildlife management

Training Requirements:

  • Law enforcement training:
    • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for 20 weeks
  • State training at the first duty post
    • 44 weeks of Field Training and Evaluation Program

Common Duties Performed by New Jersey’s Game Wardens

Conservation officers in New Jersey have a wide range of professional activities in their combined role of being experts in fish and wildlife management and law enforcement officers.  Some of their duties include the following types of activities:

  • Patrolling designated parts of the state
    • Including state wildlife management areas
    • Conducted by motor vehicle, ATV, boat, foot, etc.
    • Participating in sea and air patrols

 

  • Coordinating enforcement efforts with other agencies and officers
  • Collecting data and samples to help biologists develop management and research programs for the state’s fish and wildlife
  • Providing information and conducting educational programs for the public
  • Assisting the Forest Fire Service to identify and suppress fires and investigate suspected arson cases
  • Conducting investigations of:
      • Applicants who are applying to buy, sell, or house nongame or endangered species
      • Reports of accidents related to hunters
      • Potential wrong-doing involving the illegal removal or possession of fish and wildlife species that are regulated by the state or federal government
        • Maintaining notes and completes reports
        • Protecting and preserving the ballistic and biological evidence
        • Preparing affidavits and search warrants

     

  • Reports of water pollution or dumping
  • Fishing vessels that are docked
  • People that are harvesting and selling shellfish
  • Helping to protect and/or remove marine mammals that are stranded


New Jersey Wildlife Officer Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), New Jersey Division of Wildlife game wardens were the third-highest paid in the country, earning an average of $81,780 in 2017. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development also reports that those in the 50th and 75th percentiles earned $87,510 and $91,680 respectively.

Aside from recruits there are three rank levels plus supervisor, each with 10 salary steps. The New Jersey Civil Service Commission reports the following annual salaries as of August 2019:

 

Conservation Officer Recruit – $45,000

 

Conservation Officer 3

Step 1: $59,038.97

Step 2: $61,989.72

Step 3: $64,940.46

Step 4: $67,891.21

Step 5: $70,841.96

Step 6: $73,792.70

Step 7: $76,743.45

Step 8: $79,694.19

Step 9: $84,297.84

Step 10: $90,390.09

 

Conservation Officer 2

Step 1: $62,273.18

Step 2: $65,389.25

Step 3: $68.505.32

Step 4: $71,621.39

Step 5: $74,737.46

Step 6: $77,853.53

Step 7: $80,969.60

Step 8: $84,085.67

Step 9: $87,201.74

Step 10: $94,441.66

 

Conservation Officer 1

Step 1: $72,563.87

Step 2: $76,193.44

Step 3: $79,823.01

Step 4: $83,452.58

Step 5: $87,082.15

Step 6: $90,711.72

Step 7: $94,341.29

Step 8: $97,970.86

Step 9: $101,600.43

Step 10: $105,230.00

 

Conservation Officer Supervisor

Step 1: $81,060.35

Step 2: $85,051.65

Step 3: $89,042.96

Step 4: $93,034.26

Step 5: $97,025.57

Step 6: $101,016.87

Step 7: $105,008.18

Step 8: $108,999.48

Step 9: $112,990.79

Step 10: $122,980.10

 

Salary data compiled by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (https://www.state.nj.us/csc/),the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (https://nj.gov/labor/lpa/LMI_index.html), and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/oes/2016/may/oes333031.htm)

Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment andfor workers at all levels of education and experience. It does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary data accessed in August 2019.

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