Fish and Game Wardens fall into the Realistic Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory® which classifies careers into six distinct categories depending on the preferences of individuals who typically work in those careers. The Inventory analyzes individuals’ interests and characteristics in a wide range of different areas. Using this analysis, the instrument can identify careers which will be particularly enjoyable or fulfilling for those individuals. Realistic careers apply specific skills to resolve real-world problems. People who prefer Realistic careers enjoy working independently, and see the world in black and white absolutes.
Fish and Game Wardens patrol designated areas to prevent violations of fish and game laws. They travel around their jurisdictions by car, boat, airplane, horse, or on foot, and protect and preserve native wildlife, plants, or ecosystems. They assist other law enforcement agencies whenever necessary. When they find someone committing a crime, they may issue that person a fine or ticket, serve warrants, or make arrests. They may investigate hunting or fishing accidents, file relevant reports, and even appear in court. In some cases, they also investigate property, crop, or habitat damage or destruction, document its extent, and advise property owners on how to take preventative measures to better preserve their land. Another major part of the job of a Fish or Game Warden is education. They provide hunter or trapper safety training, address schools, or other groups on how to conserve wildlife, and provide information to park and reserve visitors. They are responsible for issuing licenses, permits, and other documentation for fishing and hunting. In some cases, they may recommend revisions to trapping regulations or wildlife management programs, or inspect commercial operations relating to fish, wildlife, or other recreational areas.
Fish and Game Wardens rely on a variety of different tools and technologies. They may use machetes, air rifles, all-terrain vehicles, canoes, and other ways of making their way through difficult terrain and defending themselves against people and wildlife binoculars, digital cameras and camcorders, night vison goggles, and infrared imagers are all important for increasing visibility, and animal traps, pepper spray, and global positioning systems (GPSs) are important for tracking and repelling wildlife. In some cases, they may also use biological evidence collection kits to lift blood or DNA from a scene, or footprint lifters to take impression casts of evidence. In addition, Fish and Game Wardens use mapping and GPS software, web browsers, database software, and Microsoft Office Suite to document their findings and communicate with others.
Because of their wide range of responsibilities, Fish and Game Wardens should possess a solid foundation in law and government at the local level, as well as taken courses in biology, psychology, and geography. Those who focus on education and outreach should understand group behavior and sociology, principles of education, curriculum design, and training for individuals and groups. On the other hand, those who are involved with enforcement may be required to have more knowledge of procedures and strategies for promoting effective operations while also protecting people, animals, and property. Most Fish and Game Wardens (over 75%) hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree. In addition to formal education, Fish and Game Wardens must have the ability to listen carefully, communicate in English, think critically about issues, and make quick, confident decisions. It is advantageous to be in good physical shape, and be able to run, swim, and climb.
Fish and Game Warden’s salaries can be as low as $34,000 in the rural South and as high as $81,000 in New York and even $91,000 in California. Even the lowest-paid Fish and Game Warden’s salaries in these states are well over $50,000 annually. While the national employment rate of Fish and Game Wardens is only expected to increase 2% to 4% before 2024, states with a large amount of hunting, such as Idaho, Kentucky, Texas, and Arkansas, all expect to see increases over 10% in the next several years.
Below are some employment trends for Fish and Game Wardens:
- Median Fish and Game Wardens Salary: $22.46/hour; $50,880 annually
- Employment: 6,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2022): Slower than Average (2% to 4%)
- Projected job openings (2014-2022): 2,000
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Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org