Officers who enforce fishing and hunting regulations are called fish and game wardens or conservation officers. Game wardens may also enforce boating laws. Standards vary by state, and intensive training at a cadet academy or camp is typical. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with a post-secondary background in wildlife management or conservation.
Average and Median Pay:
As of 2011, the average hourly pay for a fish and game warden in the United States was $26.77 an hour, and the average annual income was $55,670 a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the middle-earning 50 percent of the 7,180 U.S. fish and game wardens made between $18.44 and $29.65 an hour and between $38,360 and $61,680 per year.
Salaries by State:
Fish and game wardens working in Maryland earned the most of those in any state as of 2011, averaging $69,410 a year. Washington state ranked second with an average annual income of $61,180, followed by North Dakota at $54,440 and Texas at $52,980. The lowest pay for this occupation, an average of $27,000 a year, was reported in Utah.
Salary by Employment Situation:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the majority of fish and game wardens were employed and paid by state governments in 2011. State workers reported an average hourly wage of $27.02 and an average yearly income of $56,210. Just over 10 percent of fish and game wardens were employed by local governments in 2011 and tended to earn somewhat less than state workers, reporting an average hourly wage of $24.78 and an average annual income of $51,550.
Fish and game warden positions tend to be highly sought-after because the job frequently entails working outdoors in remote and scenic areas, something many people enjoy. The desirability of the job, the relatively few positions available, and the very slow job growth rate of 5 percent predicted for the coming decade all combine to ensure that competition for game warden positions will be very strong in the coming decade. Candidates with police experience and a post-secondary degree related to wildlife management will have the best employment prospects.