How to Become a Game Warden in Missouri

Missouri’s game wardens work for the state’s Department of Conservation and are known as conservation agents. These agents are responsible for both enforcing the law and managing the state’s resources.

Missouri has a tremendous amount of natural resources ranging from popular lakes such as the 55,000-mile Lake of the Ozarks to the Ozark Mountains. More than 14 million acres of forests are located in Missouri, and the state contains 86 border and inland rivers.

While these resources draw hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers alike, they also draw more nefarious people such as poachers. Missouri’s conservation agents enforce wildlife laws, testify in court, perform search and rescue operations as needed, collect data on wildlife, fish, and bird populations, and educate the public about conservation issues.

This suite of responsibilities requires individuals with a broad range of skills who are adept at handling pressure. While the job of a conservation agent is highly demanding, it is also a career sought by many people. Therefore, competition is fierce.

Applicants who seek to join the ranks of Missouri’s conservation agents will have the best chance of being hired if they are highly familiar with the requirements for these positions. Read on to learn more about becoming a game warden in Missouri.

Missouri Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Men and women who are well suited to becoming conservation agents in Missouri share two traits. One is a love of outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and hiking, while the other is a strong sense of duty when it comes to the conservation of Missouri’s wilderness.

The primary job of these agents is to manage fish and game regulations and apprehend poachers, but being a conservation agent has a wide range of facets. These professionals help facilitate the acquisition of public lands, educate the public on hunting and fishing information, and help during crises or rescue situations.

The diversity of roles of a conservation agent in Missouri means that applicants must have a diverse skill set and be prepared to face stiff competition during the application process. Shown below are the minimum qualifications needed to become a Missouri conservation agent.

Basic Job Qualifications for the Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation website offers information on training, volunteer opportunities, and job positions. Eligibility criteria include:

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

Citizenship: Proof of U.S. Citizenship, resident alien status, or naturalization documents are required. Proof of Missouri residency is required.

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

Military Service: Veterans must have been discharged "Under Honorable Conditions"

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.

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; candidates will be subject to mandatory drug screening.
  • Good moral character
  • Never been discharged or resigned under threat of discharge from any law enforcement position
  • Not been currently placed on court-ordered probation
  • Not been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral laxity
  • Never been convicted of a felony offense
  • Never been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, misdemeanor or otherwise
  • Never been convicted of perjury or false statement

Academic Credentials: Completion of high school or GED is required; Applicants for game warden jobs in Missouri must have a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in natural sciences, law enforcement or criminal justice.

Additional Requirements:

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

Meeting the Peace Officer Training Requirements

POST Training

  • Applicants must complete a 26-week course consisting of basic police officer training in firearms, defensive tactics, search and seizure, and arrest.
  • Successful trainees will complete 1,000 hours of licensed law enforcement training.

Agent Training

  • Firearms
  • Drug Identification
  • Hazardous Devices
  • ASP (Expandable Baton)
  • ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) Patrol
  • 4-wheel Operations
  • Trapping
  • Reptile Identification
  • Media Relations
  • Land Navigation
  • Daily fitness training
  • Equipment maintenance and operation
  • Officer safety

Field Training

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

Fish and Wildlife Training

Conducted in Columbia

Forestry Training

Conducted in Licking

Water safety Training

Conducted in Lake of the Ozarks

Interview: Candidates will have a formal panel interview with senior officers and human resources personnel 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 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:

  • Run constantly for over two minutes
  • Run up and down stairs
  • Bend and twist
  • Dodge obstacles
  • Crawl under obstacles
  • Jump/vault over obstacles
  • Climb fences
  • Lift/carry, drag human victims
  • Remove a large dead animal from the roadway
  • Remove injured persons from motor vehicles or buildings
  • Enter and exit all sorts of land vehicles and watercraft
  • Know self-defense tactics

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.
  • Use mathematics including advanced arithmetic, basic accounting, estimating, and data collection
  • Bilingualism is an asset.
  • 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 competent firearm usage and willingness to train others on their use and safety.
  • Professional development or college courses in psychology, law enforcement, sociology, or natural resources management

Conservation Agent Salaries

The Missouri Department of Conservation employs the state’s game wardens who work in a law enforcement capacity as conservation agents.  This agency reported that the average salary for a conservation agent was $45,922 during the fiscal year 2016.  This equates to an hourly wage of $22.08.  Conservation agent trainees earned an average salary of $36,084 or $17.35 an hour.

The state of Missouri offers a comprehensive benefits package to supplement the income of employees within the Department of Conservation. The list of benefits includes:

  • Life insurance and other types of insurance
  • Paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave
  • Health insurance
  • Deferred compensation
  • State retirement plan
  • Access to the state’s credit union
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Employee assistance program

Salaries were calculated by finding the average from the total payroll expenditure for fiscal year 2016 based on the total number of employees working for the Department that year.


Missouri Department of Conservation

2901 W. Truman Blvd.
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Phone: (573 )751-4115

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Avila University

11901 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64145-1698
Phone: (816) 942-8400
  • Biology

Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies

411 Central Methodist Square, Fayette, MO 65248-1198
Phone: (660) 248-6392
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Central Methodist University-College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

411 Central Methodist Square, Fayette, MO 65248-1198
Phone: (660) 248-3391
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography
  • Law Enforcement Administration

College of the Ozarks

100 Opportunity Avenue, Point Lookout, MO 65726-0017
Phone: (417) 334-6411
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Ecology

Columbia College

1001 Rogers Street, Columbia, MO 65216
Phone: (573) 875-8700
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Culver-Stockton College

One College Hill, Canton, MO 63435-1299
Phone: (573) 288-6000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Drury University

900 N.Benton, Springfield, MO 65802-3791
Phone: (417) 873-7879
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Evangel University

1111 N Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65802-2125
Phone: (417) 865-2811
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Fontbonne University

6800 Wydown Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63105-3098
Phone: (314) 862-3456
  • Biology

Hannibal-LaGrange University

2800 Palmyra Rd, Hannibal, MO 63401-1999
Phone: (573) 221-3675
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Harris-Stowe State University

3026 Laclede Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63103-2136
Phone: (314) 340-3366
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Jefferson College

1000 Viking Drive, Hillsboro, MO 63050-2440
Phone: (636) 797-3000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Lincoln University

820 Chestnut Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: (573) 681-5000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Lindenwood University

209 S Kingshighway, Saint Charles, MO 63301-1695
Phone: (636) 949-2000
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Logan University

1851 Schoettler Rd, Chesterfield, MO 63017
Phone: (636) 227-2100
  • Biology

Maryville University of Saint Louis

650 Maryville University Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63141-7299
Phone: (800) 627-9855
  • Biology

Missouri Baptist University

One College Park Dr, Saint Louis, MO 63141-8698
Phone: (877) 434-1115
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Missouri Southern State University

3950 E. Newman Road, Joplin, MO 64801-1595
Phone: (417) 625-9300
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Missouri State University-Springfield

901 S National, Springfield, MO 65897
Phone: (417) 836-5000
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology

Missouri University of Science and Technology

1870 Miner Circle, Rolla, MO 65409
Phone: (573) 341-4111
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology

Missouri Valley College

500 E College St, Marshall, MO 65340
Phone: (660) 831-4000
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Missouri Western State University

4525 Downs Dr, Saint Joseph, MO 64507
Phone: (816) 271-4200
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Moberly Area Community College

101 College Ave, Moberly, MO 65270-1304
Phone: (660) 263-4110 x11208
  • Criminal Justice

Northwest Missouri State University

800 University Drive, Maryville, MO 64468-6001
Phone: (660) 562-1212
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

Ozarks Technical Community College

1001 E. Chestnut Expressway, Springfield, MO 65802
Phone: (417) 447-7500
  • Biology

Park University

8700 NW River Park Dr, Parkville, MO 64152-3795
Phone: (816) 741-2000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Rockhurst University

1100 Rockhurst Rd, Kansas City, MO 64110-2561
Phone: (816) 501-4000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Saint Louis University

One North Grand Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63103-2097
Phone: (314) 977-2222
  • Land Use Planning and Management or Development
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Southeast Missouri State University

One University Plaza, MS4675, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
Phone: (573) 651-2000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Southwest Baptist University

1600 University Ave, Bolivar, MO 65613-2596
Phone: (800) 526-5859
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Stephens College

1200 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65215
Phone: (573) 442-2211
  • Biology

Truman State University

100 E Normal, Kirksville, MO 63501-4221
Phone: (660) 785-4000
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Central Missouri

202 Administration Building, Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: (660) 543-4111
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Security and Protective Services

University of Missouri-Columbia

105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: (573) 882-2121
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forestry
  • Biology
  • Conservation Biology

University of Missouri-Kansas City

5100 Rockhill Rd, Kansas City, MO 64110
Phone: (816) 235-1000
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of Missouri-St Louis

One University Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63121-4400
Phone: (314) 516-5000
  • Biology
  • Conservation Biology

Washington University in St Louis

One Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
Phone: (314) 935-5000
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Botany, Plant Biology
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Biology

Webster University

470 E Lockwood Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63119-3194
Phone: (314) 961-2660
  • Biology
  • Security and Protective Services

Westminster College

501 Westminster Ave, Fulton, MO 65251-1299
Phone: (573) 642-3361
  • Biology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

William Jewell College

500 College Hill, Liberty, MO 64068-1896
Phone: (816) 415-5979
  • Biology
  • Ecology

William Woods University

One University Avenue, Fulton, MO 65251-1098
Phone: (573) 642-2251 x2251
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice