How to Become a Game Warden in Kentucky

Kentucky game warden applicants are advised to be both qualified for the role and able to prove they are the best candidates for the job.  There is stiff competition for the few positions that become available each year and applicants should be ready to demonstrate they have what it takes to effectively enforce natural resource conservation laws in the state’s most popular areas for hunting and angling.

Game wardens are responsible for more than law enforcement, performing tasks that include environmental interpretation education, collecting census information on the wildlife and habitats in their area, and occasionally participating in search and rescue missions.

With fierce competition for open game warden positions in Kentucky, applicants need to understand qualifications and best practices, and what the selection process entails in order to have the best shot at landing the job.  Candidates should be prepared for multiple interviews and a rigorous selection process.

Kentucky Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Kentucky is a state with much diversity in terms of its natural landscape, animal habitats and resources. It has the world’s longest cave system, many navigable waterways, and large lakes. Kentucky wildlife census data in recent years has shown that the state has the highest deer and turkey populations in the nation, as well as the largest free-ranging elk herd east of the Mississippi River.

Kentucky has a real need for individuals capable of protecting and managing the state’s abundant resources. Conservation officers throughout the state are committed to enforcing fish and game regulations through patrol and enforcement, issuing citations, investigating boating and hunting accidents, and supporting agency education programs. Conservation officers also provide the public with hunting and fishing information and promote and coordinate hunter education and firearm and boating safety classes.

The diverse set of job duties means that candidates must be prepared to showcase their skills, knowledge, and motivation when applying for the jobs that become available. Listed below are the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ minimum qualifications to become a Conservation Officer. Additional information as well as job postings are available through the Kentucky state web portal.

Basic Qualifications to Become a Game Warden in Kentucky

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

Citizenship: Proof of U.S. Citizenship or naturalization documents are required, as well as proof of Kentucky residency

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

Military Service: If a former member of any branch of the United States military branches, 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. Candidates will be subject to mandatory drug screening.

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

  • No addictions to drugs or alcohol
  • Good moral character
  • Not presently on probation by court order
  • Never been convicted of a felony
  • Never been convicted of a crime involving moral laxity
  • Never been convicted of a felony offense or domestic violence
  • Never been convicted of perjury or false statement
  • Never been discharged or resigned under threat of discharge from any law enforcement position

Academic Credentials: Completion of high school or GED is required; an Associate degree or completion of 54 semester hours from a college or university, OR Experience in sworn law enforcement that includes making arrest for criminal activity and conducting criminal investigations OR military service will substitute for the required education on a year for year basis, OR two years’ experience working in wildlife resources, agriculture, natural resources or recreation will substitute for each year of the required education.

Additional Requirements:

  • Online employment application
  • Written skills test, focusing on professional English, report writing and mathematics
  • Certification as a law enforcement officer by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Training Commission while an employee is on ‘conditional’ status

Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOJCT)

Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOJCT)

A 23-week course consisting of basic police officer training in firearms, defensive tactics, search and seizure, and arrest

Fish and Wildlife Academy

  • A 12-week specialty-training course consisting of training on the following:
  • Firearms
  • Drug Identification
  • Hazardous Devices and the Expandable Baton
  • ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) Patrol
  • Waterfowl Training
  • Kravis Magi Self Defense
  • Wildlife Forensics
  • Water Survival
  • Emergency Vessel Operations
  • Boat Accident Investigations
  • Fish Identification
  • Marine Theft
  • Media Relations
  • Land Navigation

Field Training

16 weeks of practical training for the role, aided by primary and secondary Field Training Officers

Interview: Candidates will have a panel interview with senior enforcement officers designed to evaluate experience, knowledge and demeanor.

Medical evaluation: The candidate will be evaluated by a medical professional to ensure that he or she is in satisfactory health.

Hearing: The applicant must be able to demonstrate good hearing with or without hearing aids

Vision: The applicant must good corrected or uncorrected binocular vision, and have color vision consistent with the demands of the job.

Physical Readiness (POP): The applicant must successfully complete a physical readiness test showing that he or she is able to complete performance as shown below:

  • Bench press 64% of his or her body weight
  • Complete 18 sit-ups in one minute
  • Run for 300 meters in 65 seconds or less
  • Complete 20 push-ups with no time limit
  • Must run a mile and a half in 17 minutes and 12 seconds or less
  • Must complete a 100 yard swim using either freestyle, breast stroke or side stroke followed by a 10 minute tread immediately followed by retrieving an object from 7 feet of water.

Psychological Condition: The applicant must be in suitable psychological and emotional health according to medical criteria

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Desired Qualifications

  • Demonstrate effective use of English including both written and oral formats.
  • Demonstrate effective use of mathematics including advanced arithmetic, basic accounting, estimating, and data collection
  • Receptive, expressive and written skills in additional languages are an asset.
  • Knowledge of current principles and practices of habitat resources, law enforcement and wildlife management
  • High moral character, demonstrating integrity and honesty;
  • Computer spreadsheet, word processing, email, GIS, and database knowledge in a networked environment is required; the state 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 utilize boats, snowmobiles, and ATVs for patrol and pursuit
  • Demonstrate effective use of firearms.
  • Professional development or college courses in psychology, law enforcement, sociology, or natural resources management

Salaries for Conservation Officers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Since the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources employs conservation officers in the Commonwealth as commissioned law enforcement officers with Peace Officer Professional Standard certification, their salary schedule is similar to that of other law enforcement officers. Still, their salaries can vary depending on many factors including location, experience, and level of education.

According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, as of 2017 conservation officers in the state earned the following annual salaries and hourly pay rates based on time in service:


  • Annual (40-hour week) - $41,161
  • Annual (37.5-hour week) - $38,588
  • Hourly - $21.88

Entry Level:

  • Annual (40-hour week) - $31,071
  • Annual (37.5-hour week) - $29,129
  • Hourly - $16.43

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

#1 Sportsman's Lane
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (800) 858-1549

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Alice Lloyd College

100 Purpose Rd, Pippa Passes, KY 41844
Phone: (606) 368-2101
  • Biology

Asbury University

1 Macklem Dr, Wilmore, KY 40390-1198
Phone: (859) 858-3511
  • Biology

Ashland Community and Technical College

1400 College Drive, Ashland, KY 41101-3683
Phone: (606) 326-2000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Bellarmine University

2001 Newburg Rd, Louisville, KY 40205-0671
Phone: (502) 272-8263
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Berea College

101 Chestnut Street, Berea, KY 40404-2182
Phone: (859) 985-3000
  • Biology

Big Sandy Community and Technical College

1 Bert Combs Dr, Prestonsburg, KY 41653
Phone: (606) 886-3863 x0
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Bluegrass Community and Technical College

470 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40506
Phone: (859) 246-6200
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Security and Protective Services

Brescia University

717 Frederica St, Owensboro, KY 42301-3023
Phone: (270) 685-3131
  • Biology

Campbellsville University

1 University Dr, Campbellsville, KY 42718-2799
Phone: (270) 789-5000 x5000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Centre College

600 W Walnut St, Danville, KY 40422-1394
Phone: (859) 238-5200
  • Biology

Eastern Kentucky University

521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475-3102
Phone: (859) 622-1000
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Security and Protective Services

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College

600 College Street Rd, Elizabethtown, KY 42701-3081
Phone: (270) 769-2371
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Gateway Community and Technical College

500 Technology Way, Florence, KY 41042
Phone: (859) 441-4500
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Georgetown College

400 East College Street, Georgetown, KY 40324-1696
Phone: (502) 863-8000
  • Biology
  • Ecology

Hazard Community and Technical College

One Community College Drive, Hazard, KY 41701-2402
Phone: (606) 487-3503
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Hopkinsville Community College

720 North Dr., Hopkinsville, KY 42240
Phone: (270) 707-3700
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Jefferson Community and Technical College

109 E Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202-2005
Phone: (502) 213-4000
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Kentucky State University

400 East Main Street, Frankfort, KY 40601-2355
Phone: (502) 597-6000
  • Fishing and Fisheries Sciences and Management
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Kentucky Wesleyan College

3000 Frederica Street, Owensboro, KY 42301
Phone: (270) 926-3111
  • Biology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Lindsey Wilson College

210 Lindsey Wilson St, Columbia, KY 42728-1223
Phone: (270) 384-2126
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Madisonville Community College

2000 College Drive, Madisonville, KY 42431
Phone: (270) 821-2250
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Maysville Community and Technical College

1755 U.S. Hwy 68, Maysville, KY 41056
Phone: (606) 759-7141 x66242
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Midway College

512 E. Stephens St, Midway, KY 40347-1120
Phone: (859) 846-4421
  • Biology
  • Security and Protective Services

Morehead State University

University Blvd, Morehead, KY 40351
Phone: (606) 783-2000
  • Biology

Murray State University

218 Wells Hall, Murray, KY 42071-3318
Phone: (270) 809-3011
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Northern Kentucky University

Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, KY 41099
Phone: (859) 572-5100
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Owensboro Community and Technical College

4800 New Hartford Rd, Owensboro, KY 42303
Phone: (270) 686-4400
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Saint Catharine College

2735 Bardstown Road, Saint Catharine, KY 40061
Phone: (859) 336-5082
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Somerset Community College

808 Monticello Street, Somerset, KY 42501-2973
Phone: (877) 629-9722
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College

700 College Rd, Cumberland, KY 40823
Phone: (606) 589-2145
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Thomas More College

333 Thomas More Parkway, Crestview Hills, KY 41017-3495
Phone: (859) 341-5800
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Transylvania University

300 N Broadway, Lexington, KY 40508-1797
Phone: (859) 233-8300
  • Biology

Union College

310 College St, Barbourville, KY 40906-1499
Phone: (606) 546-4151
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of Kentucky

South Limestone, Lexington, KY 40506-0032
Phone: (859) 257-9000
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forest Sciences and Biology
  • Biology

University of Louisville

2301 S 3rd St, Louisville, KY 40292-0001
Phone: (502) 852-5555
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of Pikeville

147 Sycamore St, Pikeville, KY 41501
Phone: (606) 218-5250
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of the Cumberlands

6191 College Station Drive, Williamsburg, KY 40769
Phone: (606) 549-2200
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

4810 Alben Barkley Drive, Paducah, KY 42002-7380
Phone: (270) 554-9200 x0
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Security and Protective Services

Western Kentucky University

1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, KY 42101-1000
Phone: (270) 745-0111
  • Biology