Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 7:40 am | Fair 45º


Outdoors Q&A: How to Begin Career as Wildlife Officer?

Maintain love of nature, get college degree, keep fit and stay out of trouble

Wildlife Officers have a passion to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources.
Wildlife Officers have a passion to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Question: I’m in high school. Last month, my dad and I were contacted by a game warden while we were out fishing. He was really nice.

After checking our licenses and sturgeon cards, and once he figured out we were all good, he spent at least another 20 minutes with us answering a bunch of questions.

Afterward, my dad and I were talking about it, and I’m thinking now that becoming a game warden is something I would like to consider someday for a job. I’m only 16 though, so what should I do now to prepare for a career as a game warden? (Josh M., Benicia)

Answer: First of all, thank you for your interest. You are lucky you have a dad who is interested and willing to pass along the love of fishing to the next generation.

We are always excited to hear from young enthusiastic outdoors people like you who desire a career that will benefit California’s extraordinary fish and wildlife resources.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Capt. Patrick Foy, “The same things that may motivate you also motivated most of today’s wildlife officers (game wardens).

"We have a passion to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources while patrolling in 4×4 trucks, boats of all sizes, ATVs, and even horseback and personal watercraft.

"We think spending a career outside in California’s wild places beats pretty much any other career out there.

"As law-enforcement officers, we have the authority to investigate all crimes and arrest all criminals — whether they are poachers, polluters, violent criminals, drug dealers, reckless drivers, auto thieves, etc., and therefore we help keep law-abiding Californians safe.

"We thrive on helping the most vulnerable of California’s citizens and the fish and wildlife with no voice. And we are excited to meet young people, such as you, who share our values and want to pursue a career as a wildlife officer,” Foy said.

Knowing what career you want to pursue in high school makes it much easier to make that dream a reality. And yes, there are several actions you can take to prepare yourself for a wildlife officer career with CDFW. Here are a few important tips:

Continue to develop your passion for fishing and the outdoors, and consider taking up hunting if you don’t already. While a fishing and hunting background can help with your career as a wildlife officer, it is not required. Sounds like you’ve got the fishing part figured out.

Do well in high school, plan to attend college, and do well there. We check all of your grades in both high school and college. The grades you are earning now make a difference.

Earn a four-year college degree to be more competitive than those who meet the minimum requirement of 60 units.

What to study in college? Whatever interests you. Many wildlife officers have bachelor’s degrees in subjects ranging from English and math, to the more traditional wildlife management and biology.

Just be sure to meet the minimum 18 units of required courses listed at the link below.

Develop excellent public speaking and communication skills.

Learn to speak a second language if you do not already.

Never use drugs. Even a single use of any hard drug results in automatic disqualification depending on how old you are and when you used them.

Maintain a good driving record. We thoroughly examine your driving record from the day you begin driving.

Crimes such as shoplifting, vandalism, theft from employers, etc., are inconsistent with a career in law enforcement, but that should be obvious. You are required to disclose all crimes committed on your initial application, whether or not you were caught.

Consider military service. Serving in the military is an excellent way to gain real-world experience and develop the leadership skills needed to thrive as a wildlife officer.

Veterans who pass our written exam are automatically moved into the No. 1 rank, which is a substantial benefit to them. Just make sure you also gain the college education necessary to meet minimum qualifications.

Maintain excellent physical fitness, including knowing how to swim. You must pass a series of physical fitness tests, including a swim test to be accepted into the Academy.

Become thoroughly familiar with the CDFW Law Enforcement Division website. It lists the minimum qualifications you will need to be accepted into the Academy.

With the above tips in mind, everywhere you exceed our minimum qualifications makes you more competitive for selection. We hope this helps you develop a plan to make your career goals a reality.

Note: Although Josh is in high school and not yet eligible to apply, any interested and eligible applicants should begin checking back around August. The application period is expected to be open in the September-October timeframe.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at [email protected].

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]oozhawk.com. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.