Wildlife and Game Officer: Salary, Job Duties and Career Outlook

Wildlife and game officers require some formal education. Learn about the salary and career outlook information and job duties to see if this is the right career for you.

Wildlife and game officers work to protect the habitat they are assigned by enforcing hunting and fishing regulations. They usually work for either the state, federal or local government. Jobs are expected to grow slower than average for this career.

Essential Information

A wildlife or game officer, often called a game warden, enforces hunting and fishing laws on a local, state or federal level. Game officers are also charged with patrolling their specified habitat to make sure that violations of those statutes aren't occurring. Read on to learn more about this specialized law enforcement position.

Required Education Federal positions require an undergraduate degree; high school diploma and potentially some college training for state jobs
Projected Job Growth 2% from 2014-2024*
Median Annual Salary (May 2015) $52,780*

Sources: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information

Game officers are typically employed by state, local or federal agencies, and salaries may differ depending on the agency and the officer's experience. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median salary of $52,780 for fish and game wardens.

The BLS also indicated mean salaries for fish and game wardens by state, and the report indicated Illinois had the highest average salary at $88,270. New Jersey's mean was $82,800 and Maryland's was $74,620. These three states had the highest paying positions in the country.

Since game officers are typically employed outside of developed urban areas, the higher paying jobs are usually found outside of large cities. The top paying metropolitan areas were the Baltimore metropolitan area (encompassing Towson) at $72,800; Houston, with a mean salary of $66,970; and Austin, at $62,920.

Job Duties

The primary duty of a wildlife or game officer is to protect her or his assigned habitat or wildlife preserve. That includes enforcement of hunting and fishing regulations and enforcement of permit regulations. Other job duties include enforcing restrictions regarding public use of protected lands and the properties found on those lands. Wildlife and game officers must also patrol many of the off-limits areas of their specified preserve. They have the power to arrest and aid in the criminal prosecution of anyone found violating the regulations.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, job growth for fish and game wardens was expected to be minimal, at 2% from 2014-2024. It was predicted that any growth that occurred could be affected on the federal level by potential budget cuts to the national park system.

Game wardens usually need an undergraduate degree for federal positions. For state positions, some college coursework following completion of high school may be preferred. These positions have a median salary around $53,000, though earnings can vary by state and region.

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