How to Become a Fish and Game Warden in Ohio

The Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources protects and manages the natural resources in the state.  While many of the state’s residents take advantage of these resources through activities such as photography and watching wildlife, 1.48 million of Ohio’s citizens are hunters and anglers.

Fish and game wardens in Ohio perform a critical role in enforcing laws related to hunting and fishing.  In addition, these certified law enforcement officers work closely with biologists to help manage the populations of fish and wildlife.  They also educate the public and keep them informed of current wildlife issues.

Featured Programs:
Sponsored School(s)

One hundred and forty such professionals worked in Ohio in 2012 according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  This includes both wildlife officers who worked for the Division of Wildlife and federal game wardens from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  Their efforts to protect wildlife in Ohio are part of a renewed national emphasis on cracking down on wildlife crime.

The competition to obtain game warden jobs in Ohio is intense, and information on how to go about obtaining these types of positions is shown below.

Joining The Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Wildlife officers in Ohio are the public face of the Division of Wildlife, and the agency seeks highly knowledgeable candidates of unquestionable character who have a strong work ethic.

The state only accepts applications when the position has been posted on the Division of Wildlife website.  Applicants must meet the basic requirements before they can be invited to test for a wildlife officer position.  Those who exceed these requirements with a high level of education and/or experience are more likely to be selected as game wardens.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Being 21 years old by the time peace officer training is completed

Educational Requirements:

  • One of the following:
    • An associate’s degree
    • Having completed core undergraduate coursework in one of the following or a related area:
      • Biology
      • Criminal justice
      • Environmental science
      • Fisheries
      • Law enforcement
      • Wildlife
Sponsored Content

Desired Knowledge and Abilities:

  • Life histories, conservation practices, and habitat for common fish and wildlife species in Ohio
  • Methods of hunting, fishing, and trapping
  • Being able to work closely with the following types of organizations:
    • Local law enforcement
    • Conservation groups
  • Being able to write clearly and prepare records and reports
  • Being able to work with limited supervision
  • Using and maintaining the following items:
    • ATVs
    • Boats
    • Four wheel drive trucks
    • Firearms

Selection Process to Become a Wildlife Officer:

  • High score on the exam
  • Intensive background check
  • Drug screening
  • Psychological exam
  • Physical exam
  • Polygraph test
  • Meeting physical fitness and swim standards

Training for Wildlife Officers and Cadets:

  • Orientation training
    • Division of Wildlife Headquarters (1 week)
  • Training academy
    • The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (about 25 weeks)
      • Basic Peace Officer Training (16 weeks)
      • Wildlife Officer Pre-Service Training Academy (8-9 weeks)

Training for Wildlife Officers:

  • Field training and evaluation (6 months)
    • After assignment to anywhere in the state

Federal Game Wardens with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement

Game wardens for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement are highly screened and trained federal law enforcement officers.

Basic Requirements:

  • U.S. citizens
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Age of:
    • 21 at a minimum
    • 36 at the most

Educational Requirements:

  • Four years of study in one of the following or a related field:
    • Law enforcement
    • Wildlife management
    • Criminal justice

Training Requirements:

  • Law enforcement training:
    • 20 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  • Game warden training:
    • 44 weeks of field training at the first post of duty

Ohio’s Turn in a Poacher Program

In 1982, Ohio began a program that allows its citizens to anonymously report wildlife crimes such as poaching.  This illegal activity is a problem throughout the U.S., and the federal government estimates that fewer than 10% of these types of crimes are reported.  Law enforcement officials in Ohio have found that poachers frequently not only harvest wildlife illegally, but also shoot livestock and break into vehicles or homes.

The Turn in a Poacher (TIP) program operates like many other efforts throughout the U.S.  It protects both the wildlife of Ohio and the economic benefits the state receives from hunting and fishing.

Calls are kept confidential, and the TIP program provides rewards when the information leads to a poacher’s conviction.  Supporters of TIP include businesses, clubs, and individuals who value the wildlife resources of Ohio.

Ohio Wildlife Officer Salary

Wildlife officers enjoy competitive pay rates in Ohio. As of 2018, they earned an average salary of $62,036 annually. Those earning in the 25th percentile made $27.40 hourly while the top 25% brought in $33.58 an hour. But good pay is far from the only benefit to working for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The job comes with many of its own rewards, and demand for qualified candidates continues to grow, offering job security and new opportunities. In fact, the Division of Wildlife plans to fill at least 10 new positions each year through 2026.

Sponsored Content

Wildlife officers can work under several different job titles in Ohio and the state government determines a set pay grade for each of them. Those that advance to supervisory and managerial positions collect the most generous salaries:

Wildlife Officer Cadet

  • $37,689.60-$45,947.20

Wildlife Education Officer

  • $43,409.60-$55,057.60

Wildlife Officer

  • $45,032.00-$56,784.00

Wildlife Officer Supervisor

  • $51,625.60-$73,548.80

Wildlife Officer Program Manager

  • $56,908.80-$80,953.59

Keep in mind that where you work could affect how much you earn. Here’s a quick breakdown of hourly wage rates in key areas around the state :


  • 25% Percentile: $20.99
  • Median: $26.43
  • 75% Percentile: $29.70

Northeast Region

  • 25% Percentile: $27.25
  • Median: $29.3
  • 75% Percentile: $31.52

Southeast Region

  • 25% Percentile: $27.31
  • Median: $30.04
  • 75% Percentile: $34.32


Salary and employment data compiled by theOhio Department of Job and Family Services’ Labor Market Information ( and Ohio Hiring Management System (

Job growth projections sourced from the North Carolina Department of Labor and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database –

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 and job growth data accessed in June 2019.

Back to Top