How to Become a Game Warden in Michigan

Game wardens in the state work for the enforcement branch of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and are known as conservation officers. Applicants for these positions must be both highly trained and passionate about serving in a role that helps protect the state’s natural resources through good old-fashioned police work.

Given how competitive these jobs are, the most qualified applicants are those that have some background or experience in wildlife biology, natural resource management or law enforcement.

Typical job responsibilities will include:

  • Enforcing all of the fishing and hunting laws in their designated patrol area
  • Investigating and busting poaching operations
  • Collecting data on bird, game, and fish populations
  • Assisting conservation efforts throughout the region

Since Michigan’s conservation officers are fully commissioned peace officers, they have full authority to enforce all state laws, even those that pertain to crimes that don’t involve illegal hunting or the theft of natural resources.

Michigan Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Conservation officers are responsible for protecting Michigan’s unique habitats:

  • The longest freshwater coastline in the country
  • Almost 65,000 inland water sources
  • Considerable forest habitats

Serving as a conservation officer is an ideal career for men and women who love the natural wonders Michigan has to offer and that are driven by a strong desire to protect the state’s natural resources. Such individuals are likely to find this type of position highly rewarding. While conservation officers primarily manage fishing and hunting regulations, they also routinely promote and coordinate hunter education, firearm, and boating safety courses.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Basic Job Qualifications

Shown below are the minimum qualifications needed to apply to become a conservation officer. Additional information and job postings are available on the website of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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

License: A valid Michigan-issued driver’s license is required with a ‘clean’ record

Military Service: Veterans and military personnel require ‘Honorable Discharge’ documents.

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 who successfully passed the pre-screening will be subject to an intensive fingerprint background check in order to continue the application process. This is to ensure that candidates have:

  • Freedom from drug addiction
  • Suitable moral scope and background
  • Not been placed on court-ordered probation
  • Not been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude
  • Never been convicted of a felony offense
  • No record of domestic violence, misdemeanor or otherwise
  • Not 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. While a college degree is not required to apply, possessing one may enhance the opportunity to obtain a job as a conservation officer. Recommended courses include:

  • Criminal justice
  • Natural-resource sciences
  • Sociology
  • Communication arts (all types)

Additional Requirements:

  • Proof of Live Scan fingerprint submission
  • Picture ID
  • Passing score for the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) physical fitness test
  • Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC)
  • Entry Level Law Enforcement Exam with valid score
  • Electronic application including:
  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Job-fit questionnaire
  • Location preference sheet
  • Transcripts
  • Form DD214

Meeting the Requirements for Peace Officer Training

Conservation Officer Academy

A 22-week course consisting of basic police officer training in the following:

  • Criminal Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Interview/interrogation techniques
  • Waterfowl identification/enforcement
  • Fish and game identification/enforcement
  • Marine vessel operation/enforcement
  • Tactical tracking
  • Precision driving
  • Digital photography
  • Marksmanship
  • Firearms tactics/safety
  • Field trauma/first aid
  • Off-road vehicle operation
  • Snowmobiling
  • Survival strategies/methods

Field Training

An 18-week specialty-training course consisting of training on the following:

  • Firearms
  • Drug Identification
  • Hazardous Devices
  • ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) control, patrol and maintenance
  • Water Survival
  • Emergency Vessel Operations
  • Investigation procedures
  • Fish, fowl, reptile and game identification
  • Marine Theft
  • Commercial Fishing and trapping
  • Media Relations
  • Land Navigation

Interview: Candidates will have a panel interview with enforcement officers to evaluate knowledge, outward personality traits, and ability to make ethical judgments.

Medical evaluation: Candidates must be in good health for a physically active outdoor role in law enforcement.

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

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

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

  • Must be able to bench press 64% of his or her body weight
  • Must be able to complete 18 sit-ups in one minute
  • Must run for 300 meters in 65 seconds or less
  • Must 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 the following techniques or any combination thereof: 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 - the various aspects of English communication for oral and verbal communication
  • Demonstrate effective use of mathematics including advanced arithmetic, basic accounting, estimating, and data collection
  • Demonstrate skills in additional languages.
  • Knowledge of current principles and practices of habitat resources, law enforcement and wildlife management
  • 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 Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The median salary among conservation officers in Michigan exceeds the national median for game wardens by nearly $10,000.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget reported that the median salary among conservation officers was $61,630 ($29.63/hour) as of 2016.  The state’s most experienced conservation officers earned salaries within the top 10% of their profession and made an average of $62,810 ($30.20/hour) that year.

Michigan’s Civil Service Commission provides salary ranges for conservation officers at various stages of their careers (2017):

  • Conservation Officer Recruit: $33,010 - $43,326
  • Conservation Officer: $42,432 - $75,275
  • Conservation Officer Specialist: $52,770 - $89,960


Michigan Department of Natural Resources

PO Box 30031
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: (800) 788-1766,4570,7-153-42199_67298-236863--,00.html

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Adrian College

110 S Madison St, Adrian, MI 49221-2575
Phone: (517) 265-5161
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Albion College

611 E Porter St, Albion, MI 49224
Phone: (517) 629-1000
  • Biology

Alma College

614 W Superior, Alma, MI 48801-1599
Phone: (989) 463-7111
  • Biology

Alpena Community College

665 Johnson St, Alpena, MI 49707
Phone: (989) 356-9021
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Andrews University

4150 Administration Drive, Room 136, Berrien Springs, MI 49104
Phone: (800) 253-2874
  • Biology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology

Aquinas College

1607 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506-1799
Phone: (616) 632-8900
  • Biology

Baker College of Auburn Hills

1500 University Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Phone: (248) 340-0600
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Baker College of Clinton Township

34950 Little Mack Ave, Clinton Township, MI 48035
Phone: (586) 791-6610
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Security and Protective Services

Baker College of Jackson

2800 Springport Rd, Jackson, MI 49202-1290
Phone: (517) 789-6123
  • Security and Protective Services

Baker College of Owosso

1020 S. Washington Street, Owosso, MI 48867
Phone: (989) 729-3350
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Bay de Noc Community College

2001 N Lincoln Road, Escanaba, MI 49829-2511
Phone: (906) 786-5802
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Bay Mills Community College

12214 W Lakeshore Dr, Brimley, MI 49715
Phone: (906) 248-3354 x8423
  • Natural Resources, Conservation

Calvin College

3201 Burton Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 526-6000
  • Biology

Central Michigan University

106 Warriner Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: (989) 774-4000
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Land Use Planning and Management or Development
  • Biology
  • Conservation Biology

Concordia University-Ann Arbor

4090 Geddes Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Phone: (734) 995-7300
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Cornerstone University

1001 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525-5897
Phone: (616) 949-5300
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology

Davenport University

6191 Kraft Avenue S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49512-9396
Phone: (616) 698-7111
  • Criminal Justice

Eastern Michigan University

202 Welch Hall, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Phone: (734) 487-1849
  • Biology
  • Security and Protective Services

Ferris State University

1201 S State St, Big Rapids, MI 49307-2251
Phone: (231) 591-2000
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Gogebic Community College

E4946 Jackson Rd, Ironwood, MI 49938
Phone: (906) 932-4231 x0
  • Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Biology

Grand Rapids Community College

143 Bostwick Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3295
Phone: (616) 234-4000
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forestry
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Grand Valley State University

1 Campus Dr, Allendale, MI 49401-9403
Phone: (616) 331-2020
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Henry Ford Community College

5101 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128-1495
Phone: (313) 845-9600
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Hope College

100 E. 8th Street, Suite 260, Holland, MI 49423-9000
Phone: (616) 395-7000
  • Biology

Kalamazoo College

1200 Academy St, Kalamazoo, MI 49006-3295
Phone: (269) 337-7000
  • Biology

Kellogg Community College

450 North Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49017-3397
Phone: (269) 965-3931
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Kirtland Community College

10775 N Saint Helen Road, Roscommon, MI 48653
Phone: (989) 275-5000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Kuyper College

3333 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525-9781
Phone: (616) 222-3000
  • Environmental Biology

Lake Superior State University

650 W Easterday Ave, Sault Ste Marie, MI 49783
Phone: (906) 632-6841
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Fishing and Fisheries Sciences and Management
  • Biology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Lansing Community College

419 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48901-7210
Phone: (517) 483-1957
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Biology

Macomb Community College

14500 E Twelve Mile Rd, Warren, MI 48088-3896
Phone: (586) 445-7999
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Madonna University

36600 Schoolcraft Rd, Livonia, MI 48150-1176
Phone: (734) 432-5300
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Security and Protective Services

Marygrove College

8425 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221-2599
Phone: (313) 927-1200
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Michigan State University

Address Unknown, East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
Phone: (517) 355-1855
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism
  • Forestry
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Botany, Plant Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Security and Protective Services

Michigan Technological University

1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295
Phone: (906) 487-1885
  • Forestry
  • Forest Sciences and Biology
  • Forest Resources Management
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Ecology

Mid Michigan Community College

1375 S Clare Ave, Harrison, MI 48625-9447
Phone: (989) 386-6622
  • Biology

Montcalm Community College

2800 College Dr, Sidney, MI 48885-9723
Phone: (989) 328-2111
  • Natural Resources, Conservation

Mott Community College

1401 E Court St, Flint, MI 48503-2089
Phone: (810) 762-0200
  • Biology

Muskegon Community College

221 S Quarterline Rd, Muskegon, MI 49442-1432
Phone: (231) 773-9131
  • Population Biology

North Central Michigan College

1515 Howard St, Petoskey, MI 49770
Phone: (231) 348-6600
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Northern Michigan University

1401 Presque Isle Avenue, Marquette, MI 49855
Phone: (906) 227-2650
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Land Use Planning and Management or Development
  • Fishing and Fisheries Sciences and Management
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Ecology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Forest Firefighting and Investigation

Northwestern Michigan College

1701 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686
Phone: (231) 995-1000
  • Water, Wetlands and Marine Resources Management
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Oakland Community College

2480 Opdyke Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304-2266
Phone: (248) 341-2000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Oakland University

2200 North Squirrel Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48309-4401
Phone: (248) 370-2100
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Olivet College

320 South Main Street, Olivet, MI 49076
Phone: (800) 456-7189
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Rochester College

800 West Avon Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307
Phone: (248) 218-2000
  • Biology

Saginaw Valley State University

7400 Bay Rd, University Center, MI 48710
Phone: (989) 964-4000
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Schoolcraft College

18600 Haggerty Road, Livonia, MI 48152-2696
Phone: (734) 462-4400
  • Security and Protective Services

Siena Heights University

1247 E. Siena Heights Dr., Adrian, MI 49221
Phone: (517) 263-0731
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Security and Protective Services

Southwestern Michigan College

58900 Cherry Grove Rd, Dowagiac, MI 49047-9793
Phone: (269) 782-1000
  • Criminal Justice

Spring Arbor University

106 E. Main St, Spring Arbor, MI 49283-9799
Phone: (517) 750-1200
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

St Clair County Community College

323 Erie Street, Port Huron, MI 48061-5015
Phone: (810) 984-3881
  • Water, Wetlands and Marine Resources Management
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of Detroit Mercy

4001 W McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI 48221-3038
Phone: (313) 993-1000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Security and Protective Services

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

503 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (734) 764-1817
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Ecology

University of Michigan-Dearborn

4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128-1491
Phone: (313) 593-5000
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Michigan-Flint

303 E. Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502-1950
Phone: (810) 762-3000
  • Biology
  • Wildlife Biology
  • Ecology

Wayne County Community College District

801 W. Fort Street, Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: (313) 496-2600
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy

Wayne State University

656 West Kirby Street, Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: (313) 577-2424
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Western Michigan University

1903 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5200
Phone: (269) 387-1000
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice