If you aspire to become a fish and game warden, the first step is to find out your state's requirements for this career. Many states provide training for their fish and game wardens in the form of an academy, and each state has slightly different requirements for admission. In order to be accepted into the academy, some states, like Montana, require a bachelor's degree in a related field such as fish and wildlife, criminal justice or park management. Other states require just two years of college education, and some states accept college courses from a variety of fields.
Game Warden College Selection Criteria
There are several factors for aspiring fish and game wardens to consider when choosing an undergraduate program. Ask yourself the following questions as you research what type of degree to pursue and what college to attend:
What does my state require?
- Students should find out their state's requirements for fish and game wardens and find programs that offer education in the appropriate area. Some states prefer applicants with some college education in conservation biology, police science, ecology or a related field.
What do I want to study?
- Since most fish and game warden training programs admit students from a range of educational backgrounds, students can choose, to some extent, which area they'd like to study in their undergraduate program. Fish and game wardens can study topics as diverse as environmental science, criminal justice, agriculture, and forestry; however, the most accessible and relevant programs often focus on biology or conservation law enforcement.
What level of degree should I pursue?
- Find out your state's minimum degree requirements. Some accept applicants with a high school diploma; others may require an associate's or bachelor's degree. You also may want to pursue more than the minimum requirement. Although only a few college courses may be necessary, your job prospects and salary may increase with a bachelor's or master's degree.
How do I want to attend classes?
- Since degree programs can be found in onsite, online, or hybrid formats, aspiring fish and game wardens can select the type of program that best suits their life.
Fish and Game Warden Schools: Overview
These institutions offer fish and game warden programs, such as fisheries or wildlife management, or related degrees. This is just a sampling of schools, and many colleges and universities not listed offer these types of programs as well.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)*|
|Oregon State University||Bend, OR||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate||In-state $11,166; Out-of-state $30,141|
|SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology||Cobleskill, NY||4-year, Public||Associate's, Bachelor's||In-state $8,654; Out-of-state $18,434|
|Montana State University||Bozeman, MT||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $7,277; Out-of-state $24,993|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $14,460; Out-of-state $39,766|
|Texas A&M University||College Station, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $11,870; Out-of-state $37,495|
|Humboldt State University||Arcata, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||In-state $7,675; Out-of-state $19,555|
|South Dakota State University||Brookings, SD||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $8,764; Out-of-state $12,128|
|University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $6,381; Out-of-state $28,659|
|University of Georgia||Athens, GA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $11,830; Out-of-state $30,404|
|University of Idaho||Moscow, ID||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state $7,864; Out-of-state $25,500|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
Degrees for Fish and Game Wardens
There are a wide range of subjects that aspiring fish and game wardens can study. Find out your state's specific requirements about level of degree and accepted fields of study. The following are possible degree paths to consider:
Associate's Degree in Biology
Although an associate's degree program in biology won't offer courses in law enforcement, it will provide graduates with fieldwork and a strong foundation in the sciences. Most programs allow credits to be transferred to a 4-year college or university if you decide to continue your studies.
Associate's Degree in Conservation Law
Many 2-year programs focus on both natural resource conservation and criminal justice. Students generally take courses the first year, with fieldwork and internships completed during the second year.
Bachelor's Degree in Biology, Ecology or Natural Resource Conservation
A bachelor's program in a biological science often has courses or concentrations in fisheries and wildlife, environmental protection and conservation, or natural resource policies. Students investigate multiple areas of animal and plant biology, including mammalogy, invertebrate biology, aquatic life and forest ecology.
Bachelor's Degree in Conservation Law Enforcement
This degree program is specifically designed for those who want to become natural resource conservation officials. Courses often combine natural science and law enforcement topics. Students investigate environmental communication and conflict management or federal and state environmental policy. Classes in criminological theory, courtroom procedures and philosophy of law are usually required or offered as electives.
There are many program options for those interested in pursuing a career as a fish and game warden, including wildlife and fish management, environmental science, and conservation law enforcement. When considering your educational options, make sure to find out your state's requirements, as well as thinking about what field and level of degree appeals most to you. There are many pathways to prepare for a career as a fish and game warden.