Game wardens are employees hired by state divisions of wildlife to patrol rivers, beaches, wildlife preserves, state and national parks and backcountry to check on area wildlife and enforce the fish and wildlife code in their state. Working as a game warden can be a very fulfilling career, especially if you have a passion for wildlife and the outdoors.
Most states require you to be 21 to become a game warden. You must also have a clean criminal record free of any felony convictions and a valid driver's license. Other qualifications include staying in good physical shape and being a valid citizen of the United States. Training to become a game warden is provided by the state.
A college degree is not required to become a game warden. However, a degree in a related science can be useful to those pursuing this career path. According to the Legal Criminal Justice Schools website, some degrees that can be beneficial for game wardens include a bachelor's degree in biology, criminal justice or environmental sciences.
Game wardens are in charge of enforce all state and federal laws regarding boating, hunting and fishing in their patrol area. Game wardens may also have to perform the seizure of any fish or game caught in violation of the fish and wildlife code.
Game Wardens and the Public
Game wardens may provide classes to the public educating them about area wildlife as well as protecting the public from any wildlife related threats such as bears or coyotes.
All game wardens wear a uniform, though the uniform will vary from one county to another. In addition to wearing a uniform, all game wardens carry a firearm.
Highest Concentration of Game Wardens
While all states employ game wardens, some states have a higher concentration of them than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states with the largest number of game wardens are Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, West Virginia and Maine.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average national salary for fish and game wardens as of 2009 was roughly $54,940. The average hourly pay for fish and game wardens was $26.42 per hour.
Some states pay fish and game wardens a higher salary than the national average. These states include Maryland, California, Nevada, Washington and Wyoming.
Total Number of Game Wardens
According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 7,530 fish and game wardens employed nationwide as of 2010. The vast majority of game warden were employed by state agencies, while others were employed by local and federal agencies.
Metropolitan Areas and Game Wardens
Metropolitan areas also employ game wardens to keep wildlife out of residential areas. As of 2009, the Baltimore, Maryland, metropolitan area had the largest number of employed game wardens in the country.