How to Become a Game Warden in South Carolina

South Carolina’s game wardens work for the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and are known as DNR law enforcement officers. South Carolina has a diverse array of habitats and natural resources that require protection, including everything from forests to plains to dunes.

DNR law enforcement officers work to protect wildlife in South Carolina, which involves everything from ensuring feral hog hunting laws are followed to arresting those who harvest endangered sea turtle eggs, which are sold as as aphrodisiac on the black market.

In addition to their service as law enforcement agents, South Carolina’s DNR law enforcement officers promote conservation efforts and coordinate hunter and boating safety classes.

These officers are accountable for all wildlife violations and conservation within their assigned territory, so these positions can be highly challenging. However, these challenges appeal to many residents of South Carolina and the selection process for the few jobs that become available each year can be highly competitive.

South Carolina Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Ideal candidates for DNR law enforcement officer positions are in excellent physical condition, have law enforcement experience, and are passionate about the outdoors. Officers must be prepared to withstand the elements and speak both compassionately and objectively to members of the public.

The diverse set of roles carried out by South Carolina’s DNR law enforcement officers means that candidates must be prepared for fierce competition.

Qualifications for a Job with the South Carolina DNR

Additional information on the application and selection process can be found on the website of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources:

Age: 21 years of age or older at the time of academy training

Citizenship: Proof of U.S. citizenship or of permanent resident alien status for those who are eligible and have applied for citizenship. Must be a resident of the state at the time of appointment.

License: A valid South Carolina-issued driver’s license is required. Individuals must maintain a mostly clean driving record.

Military Service: Applicants who are former members of the United States military require ‘Under Honorable Conditions’ discharge documentation.

Academic Credentials: High school diploma or GED is required. Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree AND either two years of related experience or four years’ service as a SCDNR DLEO. Related experience will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Requirements:

  • Credit check disclosure form
  • Official 10-year driving history from the DMV
  • Written exam basic skills and problem solving
  • Finished online application
  • High school diploma or GED transcript
  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • College diploma or transcript
  • Basic Training

South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Training

12-week mandatory course at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy

Officers will be tested weekly on the following types of subjects:

  • Suspect pursuit and arrest
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Report writing
  • Courtroom etiquette and procedures
  • Firearms training
  • DNR Law Enforcement Officer Training

8-week training course specific to the DNR Law Enforcement focusing on the following subject areas:

  • State and federal boating, hunting, and fishing regulations
  • Administrative tasks in enforcement
  • Vehicle and equipment usage and maintenance
  • Biology and wildlife management

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 background check in order to continue the application process. Disqualifying elements include:

  • Poor moral character
  • Having violated state or federal fish and game regulations in the past three years
  • Conviction for crimes of moral laxity
  • Conviction for crimes whose sentence exceeded one year
  • Any type of felony conviction
  • No tattoos or body art permitted on any part of the body that would be visible while wearing any DNR uniform or official attire.
  • Officers are prohibited from willful mutilation of the body or any body parts in any manner.

Interview: Candidates will have an interview with the Colonel Deputy Director of Law Enforcement

Medical Condition: The applicant must be examined by a licensed physician to ensure that they are in good health.

Hearing: The applicant must have hearing adequate to perform all the essential duties and functions of a warden, including long distance, directional and voice conversation hearing.

Vision: Visual acuity correctable to 20/20 in each eye. Normal binocular color vision with a full field of periphery is required. Candidates who have undergone corrective eye surgery to meet state minimum vision standards may be required to submit additional information.

Physical Readiness: The applicant must be in sound physical condition and able to swim. Applicants must successfully complete each component of the physical readiness testing which consists of:

  • Obstacle course
  • 150-pound drag
  • Swimming 75 yards
  • Treading water for five minutes

Psychological Condition: The applicant must be in suitable psychological and emotional health to complete training and be eligible for hire

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Desired Qualifications

  • Use and carry various firearms safely and effectively
  • Capable of patrolling on foot, on horseback, by plane, boats, and in a variety of vehicles
  • Demonstrate an aptitude for collecting and preserving evidence, writing reports, and testifying in court.
  • Ability to promote and coordinate hunter education programs
  • Ability to collect and report information on the conditions of fish and wildlife and their habitat
  • Willingness to enthusiastically and professionally represent the agency at South Carolina schools and meetings of special interest groups
  • Effectively operate and negotiate a vehicle on rough terrain
  • Professional development or college courses in natural resource management, criminology, psychology, business management or sciences
  • Ability to use word processing, spreadsheet, database and email software in a networked environment
  • Mechanical aptitude and logical thinking.
  • Ability to use professional level English grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and composition; reading and comprehension
  • Ability to use foundational math skills including advanced arithmetic, payroll/accounts receivable, and estimation
  • Additional languages are an asset

Salaries for Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Officers

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for South Carolina’s DNR law enforcement officers was $45,920 ($22.08 hourly) as of 2016 while the overall average was $47,280 ($22.78 hourly).  Experienced DNR law enforcement officers earned salaries that fell within the top 10%, making an average of $65,010 ($31.26 hourly) that year.

The DNR itself showed the starting salary for the “Law Enforcement Officer I” position for new hires with limited experience to be $33,608 as of 2017.

The accountability section of the South Carolina Department of Administration provides ranges for each level above the entry-level Law Enforcement Officer I position.  The ranges represent differences in pay at each level based on time-in with the DNR, education, specialized role and differences in locality pay:

  • Law Enforcement Officer II: $50,090 – $60,760 (27 employees)
  • Law Enforcement Officer III: $50,752 – $74,867 (40 employees)
  • Law Enforcement Officer IV: $66,544 – $89,956 (22 employees)
  • Law Enforcement Officer V: $88,139 - $94,000 (3 employees)


South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

1000 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Phone: (803)734-4002

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Aiken Technical College

2276 Jefferson Davis Highway, Graniteville, SC 29829
Phone: (803) 508-7263
  • Criminal Justice

Allen University

1530 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29204
Phone: (803) 376-5700
  • Biology

Anderson University

316 Boulevard, Anderson, SC 29621-4035
Phone: (864) 231-2000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Benedict College

1600 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29204-1086
Phone: (803) 256-4220
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Central Carolina Technical College

506 N Guignard Dr, Sumter, SC 29150-2499
Phone: (803) 778-1961
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Criminal Justice

Charleston Southern University

9200 University Blvd, Charleston, SC 29406-9121
Phone: (843) 863-7000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Citadel Military College of South Carolina

171 Moultrie St, Charleston, SC 29409
Phone: (843) 225-3294
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Claflin University

400 Magnolia Street, Orangeburg, SC 29115-4498
Phone: (803) 535-5000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Clemson University

201 Sikes Hall, Clemson, SC 29634
Phone: (864) 656-4636
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forest Sciences and Biology
  • Forest Resources Management
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Microbiology

Coastal Carolina University

103 Tom Trout Drive, Conway, SC 29526
Phone: (843) 347-3161
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

Coker College

300 E College Ave, Hartsville, SC 29550
Phone: (843) 383-8000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

College of Charleston

66 George St, Charleston, SC 29424-0001
Phone: (843) 953-5500
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

Columbia College

1301 Columbia College Dr, Columbia, SC 29203
Phone: (803) 786-3012
  • Biology

Converse College

580 E Main St, Spartanburg, SC 29302-0006
Phone: (864) 596-9000
  • Biology

Denmark Technical College

1126 Solomon Blatt Blvd, Denmark, SC 29042
Phone: (803) 793-5100
  • Criminal Justice

Erskine College

2 Washington St, Due West, SC 29639
Phone: (864) 379-2131
  • Biology

Florence-Darlington Technical College

2715 W. Lucas Street, Florence, SC 29501
Phone: (843) 661-8324
  • Criminal Justice

Francis Marion University

4822 East Palmetto Street, Florence, SC 29506
Phone: (843) 661-1362
  • Biology

Furman University

3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613-6162
Phone: (864) 294-2000
  • Biology

Greenville Technical College

738 S Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, SC 29607-2418
Phone: (864) 250-8000
  • Criminal Justice

Horry-Georgetown Technical College

2050 Highway 501 East, Conway, SC 29526
Phone: (843) 347-3186
  • Criminal Justice

Lander University

320 Stanley Avenue, Greenwood, SC 29649-2099
Phone: (864) 388-8000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Limestone College

1115 College Drive, Gaffney, SC 29340-3799
Phone: (800) 795-7151 x0
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Midlands Technical College

1260 Lexington Drive, West Columbia, SC 29170-2176
Phone: (803) 738-8324
  • Criminal Justice

Morris College

100 West College Street, Sumter, SC 29150-3599
Phone: (803) 934-3200
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Newberry College

2100 College St, Newberry, SC 29108
Phone: (803) 276-5010
  • Biology

North Greenville University

7801 N. Tigerville Road, Tigerville, SC 29688-1892
Phone: (864) 977-7000
  • Biology

Northeastern Technical College

1201 Chesterfield Hwy., Cheraw, SC 29520
Phone: (843) 921-6900
  • Criminal Justice

Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College

3250 Saint Matthews Rd, Orangeburg, SC 29118-8299
Phone: (803) 536-0311
  • Criminal Justice

Piedmont Technical College

620 North Emerald Road, Greenwood, SC 29646
Phone: (864) 941-8324
  • Criminal Justice

Presbyterian College

503 South Broad Street, Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-2820
  • Biology

South Carolina State University

300 College St NE, Orangeburg, SC 29117-0001
Phone: (803) 536-7000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Southern Wesleyan University

907 Wesleyan Drive, Central, SC 29630-1020
Phone: (864) 644-5000
  • Biology

Spartanburg Methodist College

1000 Powell Mill Road, Spartanburg, SC 29301-5899
Phone: (864) 587-4000 x4117
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Technical College of the Lowcountry

921 Ribaut Road, Beaufort, SC 29901-1288
Phone: (800) 768-8252
  • Criminal Justice

Tri-County Technical College

7900 U.S. Hwy 76, Pendleton, SC 29670
Phone: (864) 646-1500
  • Criminal Justice

Trident Technical College

7000 Rivers Avenue, Charleston, SC 29423-8067
Phone: (843) 574-6111
  • Criminal Justice

University of South Carolina-Aiken

471 University Pkwy, Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: (803) 648-6851
  • Biology

University of South Carolina-Beaufort

1 University Boulevard, Bluffton, SC 29909
Phone: (843) 208-8000
  • Biology

University of South Carolina-Columbia

Columbia-Campus, Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: (803) 777-7000
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of South Carolina-Lancaster

476 Hubbard Drive, Lancaster, SC 29720
Phone: (803) 313-7000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

University of South Carolina-Upstate

800 University Way, Spartanburg, SC 29303-4999
Phone: (864) 503-5000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Voorhees College

481 Porter Drive, Denmark, SC 29042
Phone: (803) 780-1234
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Williamsburg Technical College

601 Martin Luther King Jr Ave, Kingstree, SC 29556-4197
Phone: (843) 355-4110
  • Criminal Justice

Winthrop University

701 Oakland Ave, Rock Hill, SC 29733
Phone: (803) 323-2211
  • Biology

Wofford College

429 N Church St, Spartanburg, SC 29303-3663
Phone: (864) 597-4000
  • Biology

York Technical College

452 S Anderson Rd, Rock Hill, SC 29730
Phone: (803) 327-8000
  • Criminal Justice