How Much Does a Conservation Officer Make?

Conservation officers protect natural resources and wildlife in forests, wetlands and state parks. Learn about education requirements, typical job duties and average salary. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Conservation Officer Job Responsibilities

Conservation officers often work for local, state and federal government agencies. Typical job duties may include patrolling designated grounds, preventing criminal activity and enforcing hunting and fishing laws. You may also be in charge of ensuring that hunters, trappers and fishermen have the appropriate licenses. Many conservation officers are licensed to carry firearms.

What Education Do I Need?

Much of the training you'll need will take place on the job. Employers may hire applicants who've earned at least a high school diploma. In some cases, completion of an associate's or bachelor's program with coursework in criminal justice, forestry and resource conservation might be required.

You may also need to become certified as a peace officer by the state in which you work; requirements for certification vary from state to state. For example, aspiring conservation officers in Michigan attend a 22-week police academy program before earning licensure as peace officers. In Minnesota, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice through a peace officer education program; these programs are offered through community colleges as well as universities. Successful completion of a licensure exam is required in both Michigan and Minnesota.

What Can I Expect To Earn?

Payscale.com estimated in 2011 that conservation officers in the 25th-75th percentile range made between $38,136 and $63,216 per year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notes that conservation officers earned an annual salary between $44,412 and $57,963 in 2011 (www.dnr.state.mn.us). According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, newly hired conservation officers made an annual wage of $42,107, with salary increases awarded for experience and completion of additional training (www.dec.ny.gov).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for fish and game wardens was $48,800 in 2009 (www.bls.gov). The lowest ten percent of fish and game wardens earned $30,920 per year; the upper ten percent made $89,130 during the same time.

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