How to Become a Game Warden in Hawaii

Game warden applicants in the state of Hawaii should be prepared for a highly competitive job market, both at the state level and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Due in part to the limited number of positions available as well as the commitment required to get through the application and selection process, not to mention the challenges of the job itself, game warden applicants are encouraged to have a strong background in biology and ecology, communication skills and physical agility.

Typical job responsibilities include evaluating animal habitat and wildlife health, habitat damage assessment, as well as educating the public on the natural habitats and game within their jurisdiction.  The typical game warden is hired to serve a particular region, and is typically responsible for managing all of the fishing, wildlife and habitat issues that may occur within that jurisdiction.

Applicants are carefully evaluated by hiring personnel in order to find the most suitable candidate, so given the tough competition it is important for potential candidates to understand the selection process, qualifications, and additional requirements for the role in order to fully prepare before applying.

Hawaii Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Hawaii is one of the most diverse states in terms of natural habitats, making it challenging to enforce conservation and protection efforts. Men and women who have a passion for both law enforcement and the outdoors are encouraged to consider joining the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), which operates as a subsidiary of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. Sometimes referred to as game wardens, the officers are more often called DOCARE Officers or Conservation and Resource Enforcement Officers (CREO).

Regardless of their title, DOCARE Officers dedicate their profession to protecting and advocating for the island state’s natural resources over the eight main islands by enforcing laws and regulations that control the activities of sport hunters and anglers, while also enforcing other laws as required. Given Hawaii’s ecological and logistical diversity, the role is a challenging one and varies slightly from department to department, meaning that all candidates must showcase that they have the knowledge and experience to be considered eligible for the job.

Outlined below are the minimum qualifications for consideration as a DOCARE Officer within the state of Hawaii. As outlined on the Hawaiian Department of Land and Natural Resources website, eligibility criteria include:

Basic Requirements for a Job with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

Age: 21 years of age or older is required at the time of the start of training

Citizenship: Proof of U.S. Citizenship or naturalization documents are required, as is proof of residency in the state

License: A valid Hawaii-issued driver’s license is required.

Military Service: If formerly a member of any branch of the United States military, a discharge "Under Honorable Conditions" is required

Work Eligibility: New employees must present original documents that establish identity and eligibility for U.S. employment opportunities as per federal law – applicants must be eligible to accept employment before the process continues. In Hawaii this means:

  • Filing a Hawaii state income tax return as a resident
  • Registering to vote in local elections
  • Designating Hawaii as your legal residence in legal documents

Background and Legal History: Applicants must pass an intensive fingerprint background check in order to continue the application process to ensure that candidates have:

  • No convictions of domestic violence
  • Never illegally manufactured, transported, purchased, distributed, used or sold a controlled substance
  • Not currently on court-ordered probation
  • Never been convicted of a felony offense

Academic Credentials: 2 years of general experience (GE) and the demonstration of several literacy, numeracy, and communication skills is required for each candidate. The general experience requirement can be substituted with a combination of work and/or education experience as:

  • High school or equivalent graduation (1 yr GE)
  • Completion of 15 semester credit hours (6 mo. GE)
  • Associate’s degree in police science (2 yr GE)
  • Completion of 2 years of college including 24 credit hours of law enforcement (2 yr GE)

Additional Requirements

Hawaiian civil service job application

Basic Training for DOCARE Positions

Basic Training:

No state-wide training exists for the role of DOCARE. Therefore specific education and training is left to departmental discretion and may include:

  • Hawaii Criminal law
  • Accident investigation
  • Driving techniques
  • Firearms training
  • Tracking
  • Vessel Operation
  • Species ID
  • Field Training
  • First responders
  • Marine safety
  • Homeland security
  • Information systems
  • Officer survival
  • Law of arrest, evidence, and search and seizures
  • Fish and wildlife conservation laws
  • Land navigation and GPS
  • Hunting, fishing, and boating regulations and statutes
  • Boating and hunting accident investigations and reconstruction
  • Environmental crime scene investigation practices
  • Small boat operations

Interview: Candidates will have an oral interview to evaluate experience and knowledge in the areas of hunting, fishing, boating and related outdoor activities. Appearance, demeanor, verbal skills and ability to make ethical judgment will be assessed at that time.

Medical evaluation: The candidate will be in ‘good’ medical health.

Hearing: The applicant must be able to hear without significant loss.

Vision: The applicant must have better than 20/40 corrected vision with both eyes.

Physical Readiness: The applicant must successfully complete a physical readiness test showing that he or she is able to complete:

  • Able to hike 1 mile within 20 minutes
  • Able to swim 300 yards in 3 minutes or less

Psychological Condition: The applicant must be in suitable psychological and emotional health as evaluated

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Desired Qualifications

  • Demonstrate effective use of English including grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and composition.
  • Reading and comprehension for oral and verbal communication are required.
  • Demonstrate effective use of mathematics including advanced arithmetic, basic accounting, estimating, and data collection
  • Demonstrate any additional languages used at a casual to professional level
  • Knowledge of Hawaiian regulations regarding habitat resources, law enforcement and wildlife management
  • Computer spreadsheet, word processing, email, GIS, and database knowledge in a networked environment is required; Hawaii uses proprietary programs for training and information delivery
  • Establish and maintain effective interpersonal relationships within and outside of the department
  • Remain committed to professional development
  • Effectively operate and negotiate a 4-wheel drive vehicle on rugged terrain
  • Effectively and respectfully liaise with indigenous peoples and cultures on the islands

Conservation & Resources Enforcement Officer Salaries in Hawaii

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported that game wardens in the state earned an average salary of $55,930 as of 2015. In contrast, game wardens in the Honolulu metropolitan area averaged $54,660.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed breakdown of the salaries for Hawaii’s game wardens as of 2016 showing experienced game wardens earned salaries that, on average, were more than $15,000 higher than the state’s overall average. Wardens earning within the top 10% earned an average of $73,420 a year.

Hawaii’s Department of Human Resources Development provides the monthly salary ranges at various steps as determined by education, experience and specialty for game wardens employed with the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE):

  • I: $3,559 - $5,475
  • II: $3,559 - $5,475
  • III: $4,162 – $6,410
  • IV: $4,500 - $6,935
  • V: $4,868 – $7,497

Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement

1151 Punchbowl St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 587-0400

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Brigham Young University-Hawaii

55-220 Kulanui Street, Laie, HI 96762-1294
Phone: (808) 675-3211
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

Chaminade University of Honolulu

3140 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816-1578
Phone: (808) 735-4711
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Hawaii Pacific University

1164 Bishop Street, Suite 800, Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 544-0200
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Remington College-Honolulu Campus

1111 Bishop St Ste 400, Honolulu, HI 96813-2811
Phone: (808) 942-1000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of Hawaii at Hilo

200 W Kawili St, Hilo, HI 96720-4091
Phone: (808) 932-7446
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography
  • Criminal Justice

University of Hawaii at Manoa

2500 Campus Road, Hawaii Hall, Honolulu, HI 96822-2217
Phone: (808) 956-8111
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Botany, Plant Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography