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  1. #1
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    Good states for being hired as a Game Warden or State Trooper

    Hey everyone. I'm interested in finding out more about becoming a Game Warden or State Trooper. I'm 18 and a member of the Army National Guard and about to start community college studying criminal justice. I'm interested in being a Game Warden or a State Trooper and I'm wondering in which states I'd have a better chance of becoming one.

    Which western states have the biggest departments and the most need for new applicants. What states out here in the west have the lowest age requirements? Also, if anyone working in one of these positions could give me advice on getting hired and a rundown of their job and how they like it that'd be great. Thank you all for your time and thank you in advance for the replies!

  2. #2
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    If you're thinking of becoming a Game Warden I would change your topic of study to gear it more towards that instead of criminal justice

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply! Right now I'm thinking of getting an associate's in Criminal Justice and taking some biology classes and then hopefully switching to Utah State University to get my bachelor's in Wildlife Science.

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    don't do drugs, don't get arrested (too much) don't strip mine your credit, don't marry someone who will try and train you to be a housepet. Don't buy anything you cannot pack into a van and leave.

    This way, you can apply for anything, anywhere, at anytime, and work seasonal/volunteer type jobs to get in.

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    Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
    but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
    for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the reply! Can anyone who works in this job tell me what it's like and how they enjoy it? Also how does it compare to being a regular LE officer

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    I'm sorry to report that in Alabama, the prospects for either classification are pretty poor. Why? The crappy economy. You know, the one "Barry" and his crew of incompetents in Washington insist is getting better. Here's a case in point. The Alabama Judicial System which administers courts statewide, both District (county) and Circuit Courts, has just announced the lay offs of 250 employees come October. This is in addition to one hundred already laid off. Should hiring in the classifications you mentioned open up once more, the first step would be a written exam. This is probably typical across the nation. Your best bets for now would be to do some research into what states might be hiring. Check into the possibility of interning, or doing seasonal work with your state conservation department. Check to see if the agency which runs Utah State Parks might accept some seasonal Ranger applications. Should you settle on the Game Warden field, you might consider slanting your degree path in that direction. Wish I could be a little more optomistic, but this economy has to get considerably better.

  7. #7
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    Can't beat Texas for either occupation.
    "What you do in life, echos in eternity"

  8. #8
    RIP Seann1
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    State employees in my home state haven't gotten a raise in years, and won't for at-least 2 more years.

    As it is, open positions aren't being filled and layoffs are always a serious reality given the condition of state budgets.

    I would not enter state government in my area at this time.

    If you want to be a game warden, a major in Conservation Law Enforcement would be useful.
    Last edited by Resq14; 08-16-2011 at 04:05 AM.

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    CA is on a hiring freeze!
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    Thanks for all the replies! It seems like state gov is not where anyone wants to be working at this time in a lot of states. I'm looking into doing some volunteer work for the DWR here in Utah to try and network. I've looked into Texas, and that seems like somewhere I'd like since I have so much family down there or maybe my home state of Florida. They always seem to be hiring for the Highway patrol down there, not too sure about game wardens though.

    In any case, I had another question. I know most states require game wardens to have a BS in wildlife science or something like that. Now my question is, just how science heavy is the work of a game warden? I always thought it wasn't very until I saw that most states require a bachelor's in a scientific field like wildlife science or biology,etc.

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    The requirements for Game Wardens/Wildlife Enforcement Officers varies from state to state. The job itself is a rather specialized area of Law Enforcement. In Alabama, Game Wardens are fully empowered Officers with statewide arrest authority. As far as a degree is concerned, I don't believe Alabama currently requires a degree in order for a person to test for appointment as a Game Warden. As I noted to you earlier, the hiring picture for state law enforcement jobs, or for that matter, any job in the Alabama State Service, is virtually nil. A hiring freeze is in effect, and I have every expectation that it will be a long one.

  12. #12
    victis honor
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    Indiana - Conservation Officer (Game Warden) - Absolutely
    Indiana - State Police - Never in a million! - 2 reasons, pay sux, command staff sux harder <----that's what they tell me anyway
    This is for all you parents that like to put your kids names on the back of your mini-vans.

    STOP IT! There are predators that will use that information against them!

  13. #13
    RIP Seann1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Utahguard93 View Post
    I know most states require game wardens to have a BS in wildlife science or something like that. Now my question is, just how science heavy is the work of a game warden? I always thought it wasn't very until I saw that most states require a bachelor's in a scientific field like wildlife science or biology,etc.
    I don't think this is true... Game wardens basically focus on conservation law enforcement, in addition to regular law enforcement.

    The 'average' duties of an 'average' game warden are not science-related... their primary job is to ensure the laws of the state pertaining to hunting/trapping/fishing/woods/inland-waterways type things are obeyed, along with search/rescue/recovery work. There's not a lot of biology, chemistry, or physics involved, unless you move in to some kind of specialized assignment. A biologist with the Department of Conservation would be more likely to need degrees in such things.

    Last edited by Resq14; 08-17-2011 at 06:28 AM.

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  14. #14
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    As a game warden, you won't ever see any weekends off and they're basically always on call. I was really looking into it at one point but I like what I'm doing now as a police officer. I work 12 hour shifts and have every other weekend off. You'd never, ever see that as a game warden. And wardens only get overtime when there's a natural disaster. I get OT every week, literally.

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    In NYS we have Environmental Conservation Officers, also known as EnCon Police or DEC Police. They work out of their homes, make their own schedule, and have some of the best weapons and equipment of any agency in the state. The pay isn't that great (I believe that they start in the mid 40s) but they also have no commuting costs and rarely see their bosses. If you get more than 2 hours or so north of NYC, the salary is almost sufficient to not die. They test every 2 years, but I'm not sure that they hire off every list. Additionally, it's hard to get a spot outside of NYC right out of the academy.

  16. #16
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    BTW....GW's here are called "squirrel patrol" if anyone was wondering.
    This is for all you parents that like to put your kids names on the back of your mini-vans.

    STOP IT! There are predators that will use that information against them!

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    I'm a Forest Ranger, but can recommend the NH Conservation Officers and Troopers...both are first-class. Troopers have their own union; both agencies have good command staff. All of us go to the same police academy; conservation officer & forest ranger require at least associate's degree in a related field OR criminal justice; both give preference to applicants with agency-specific backgrounds & education.

    I've worked with Montana state game wardens before and they are some pretty good guys. Also, Massachusetts state fire wardens and 'environmental police' (their version of game wardens), CT & RI game wardens, NYS also has forest rangers in additon to their environmental police in DEC. You'll find that either forest rangers or game wardens within a geographic area are pretty familiar with their counterparts in adjoining states, at least in the northeast.

    Some states - like ours - the officer more or less sets his own schedule, but is required to be on-call pretty much all of the time. Weekends are not 100% mandatory all year, but certainly during hunting season and maybe the start of spring fishing & winter snowmobile seasons. Most, like us, get a take-home vehicle and all the equipment you need or could want to do your job. Pay is usually not great compared to urban/suburban PD, nor are the advancement opportunities as regular. Due to the nature of the work, you don't have the availability of rapid back-up in a remote area, as you are the one with the specialized equipment to get to remote areas, while most other PDs can't get off a maintained road - nor do they need to for the most part.

    If you think you want the job because you like to be alone, it's the wrong job for you. The officer is outdoors because someone is doing something and you will need to be able to interact with people on many levels all the time, and some of them don't want to see you and might want to kill you. Unlike most fields of law enforcement, the majority of your 'audience' is armed.

    The need for the specialized degree IS directly related to the performance of the job. Unless you've got years of related job experience, the specialized degree usually will show you what you need to know AND show the hiring authority that you took the time & effort to get educated - as well as your GPA will be an indication of your intelligence. The physical, medical, & psychological tests will be the same as for any LEO hiring (at least in this state) so yes, the specialized degree counts in a big way. You need to know and be proficient in determing time of death of animals & game birds, calculate board foot volume or basal area of timber, investigate a wildland arson fire, measure land mass & correctly navigate over rough terrain in the dark, swift-water rescue skills or cold water diving, definitely PUBLIC SPEAKING...these are certainly not for every position, but these are examples that you wouldn't get from a criminal justice degree and instead will be exposed to in a specialized degree.

    Competition is fierce; we had 104 applicants for our last one open position. You need to be over-qualified, not just meet the minimum qualifications. You may need to apply many times, and with many states, to get the 'dream post' where you want. The economy is terrible right now, and conservation enforcement positions are being cut or at least frozen...which is where things were when I was in your place. Take this time - it may be five or six or more years - to finish your degree, work some part-time or seasonal jobs in similar agencies (I was lucky enough to work summer jobs in the agency I am with now) and build up your experience & networking.

    Be patient and determined. Keep your goal in sight and have a plan to reach it. Have an alternative to fall back on for the few years that you try but don't get in. Keep plugging away and you should get there. It took me roughly 7 years from the time I made the decision to the time I was hired full-time permanent, and I hit my retirement eligibility in 7 months.

    In my case, it is absolutely the best job in the world. Our worst days are often better than most folks good days.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Nessmuk; 08-18-2011 at 07:13 AM.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Utahguard93 View Post
    Thanks for the reply! Right now I'm thinking of getting an associate's in Criminal Justice and taking some biology classes and then hopefully switching to Utah State University to get my bachelor's in Wildlife Science.
    Good stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ummone View Post
    BTW....GW's here are called "squirrel patrol" if anyone was wondering.
    We lovingly call ours Possum Cops...... but only to their face.

    Honestly, if I were to go back to full time, I would want to do it as a wildlife officer. Our Game and Fish guys have the best toys, good admin (minimal day-to-day supervision), awesome training, and great jobs. I like to tease them because I'm jealous of them.

    It helps that they're entirely funded out of hunting and fishing licenses and fines... and with a 3-day non-resident hunting license costing $100, and the fact that all of the US wants to come here to do their duck hunting, the ACGF officers are NEVER hurting for money.

    They're also unique in that they can cite you, give you the fine, take your cash, write you a receipt, and be on their way all in one interaction.

    And game and fish violations are NOT CHEAP.
    The academy teaches you skills, the street gives you experience, but it all comes down to your instinct.

  20. #20
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    Utah- Don't forget to look into BLM and USFS. They doing the same thing the the state FGW do just on the national level. I worked BLM/USFS Fire and the rangers had some nice toys. Many guys start out doing fire to get the resource protection expereince during the summer. The pay is good and it gets you to network, I have a bud that was doing fire for about 7 years and made the switch to LEO for BLM, hes in the academy now. You can;t beat the pay and the toys. They get take home rides, like most, and have flexible schedules. And as far as OT when ever there are the large fires they get their OT. Not to mention they do alot of details across the country for drug eradication to. Just a thought.
    I'd rather be judged by 12 rather carried by 6.

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  21. #21
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    Don't let the squirrel cop and fish cop reference as we are commonly called in Maryland deter you. As a conservation officer in Maryland, we have state wide jurisdiction. We are the primary law enforcement on Maryland's waterways, state parks and conservation violations. It is an awesome job. Everyday is different. One day your on a boat checking commercial watermen and the next your walking the woods looking for illegal hunting activity. We are on the same pay scale as the state police. Too bad you're not 21 and in Maryland. We are hiring now and need people bad. Good luck to you in the future.

  22. #22
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    Look north to Alaska.
    It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by romulox View Post
    Don't let the squirrel cop and fish cop reference as we are commonly called in Maryland deter you.
    I think you're referring to the terms Twig Pig and Trout Trooper

    I work with you guys from time to time, got plenty of good things to say about NRP.

  24. #24
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    Thanks!! It is good to here that someone out there appreciates what we do.

  25. #25
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    Game Warden work duties and employment requirements carry vary widely from state to state. Here in Louisiana they are police oriented and often know very little about biology. Meanwhile, next door in Texas, it was once true and may still be true, that a degree in biology is needed to become an agent.

    Louisiana isn't hiring right now. If they were you'd need 60 college credits (any classes) OR two years full time POST certified LEO experience OR four years active duty military duty with an honorable discharge.
    State commission = same as state police + federal commissions from USFWS and NMFS.
    Pay starts in the 30's but the cost of living in La. is pretty low. Pay used to move up rapidly in the first two years but our wonderful governor has put a freeze on ALL pay raises even though we have the money in our budget for them.
    Every other weekend off.
    4WD truck, boat(s), 4-wheeler, Sig sidearm, Sig rifle, Remington 870 shotgun.
    Overtime is available with a max of 24 hrs per 2 week pay period unless there's a storm or emergency.
    Holiday pay = 2.5X regular rate.
    New hires = 25 year retirement @ 3 1/3% per year. (They changed the rules a few years ago. There MAY be a minimum retirement age of 57.)
    Current management = theory X.
    Academy = 5-6 months Monday thru Friday with a graduation rate of about 70%.
    Two years probationary period with a "boot to da head rate" of about 10%.

    Other states may be different but I usually advise the local young people here who are interested to major in their second career choice (or business management, or general studies), minor in criminal justice and/or to find out what the feds want and fulfill their criteria. Thousands set a goal to become a game warden but only dozens are picked and stay.

    Good luck.

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