So You Want to be a Warden

By Doug Leier, NDG&F Dept.

While I’m no longer a game warden, that’s how I started my career with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Though my career transitioned from warden to biologist, the experience and background work is invaluable in my current position. Over the years I’ve fielded the question hundreds of times: How do you get a job as a game warden?

Wanting to be a game warden, and becoming one, are two different things. The number of conservation law enforcement officers is small compared to officers who work for police and sheriff’s departments. With such a small number, job openings are few and far between. So while I always dreamed about a game warden’s career, I had to be realistic about my chances.

Still to this day, game warden job opening are few, and when one does occur, states usually schedule a test to identify potential candidates. That is the case right now in North Dakota, as the Game and Fish Department has scheduled a test to start the process of filling an open position.

To become a North Dakota game warden, candidates must be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, be in good physical condition and hold a four-year college degree. Many wardens have degrees in biology, criminal justice or related disciplines, but this is not required.

Following the test, the top scorers are typically selected for comprehensive interviews, with positions filled from those final candidates.

Game wardens are licensed peace officers. If the successful applicant is already licensed, they head straight to field training in various parts of the state, learning the craft from veteran wardens. Otherwise, further training to become a licensed peace officer is the next step.

In North Dakota the scheduled test is at 10 a.m., Feb. 23, at the department’s main office in Bismarck. The open position is for a fulltime temporary warden, who could be stationed anywhere in the state.

Applicants must register to take the exam no later than Feb. 19 by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

District game wardens enforce game and fish laws and related regulations in an assigned district and other locations as determined by the department. In addition to law enforcement duties, wardens assist in the areas of public relations, education programs, and hunter and boat safety education.

I can attest that if you’ve ever had an interest and are looking for some insight into the job and career, ask your local game warden. I did the same thing, and easily realized there was no reason to hesitate to apply and take the exam.

Thousands of men and women are interested enough in hunting, fishing and conservation, plus have the right qualifications, to take the game warden test. The odds might seem long, but every time the test is given, eventually someone gets to realize their dream.

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department.

(Featured Photo: A game warden checks in with a hunter. NDG&F Photo)

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