How to Become a Game Warden in Tennessee

Game wardens in Tennessee work for the state’s Wildlife Resources Agency and are known as wildlife officers. As law enforcement officers, one of their primary duties is identifying and arresting poachers. Tennessee offers an unusually attractive environment for legal hunters and poachers alike.

Despite the threats of live fire around the training grounds of Fort Campbell, many poachers choose to hunt in this restricted area. The fenced-in 100,000-acre fort does not allow hunting, so the deer there are particularly large and make exceptionally tempting targets.

Wildlife officers in Tennessee carry out a plethora of additional activities. They collect census data on birds and game, assess and remediate damage to habitats, train individuals on firearm, hunting, and boating safety, and educate the public about conservation. While a Tennessee wildlife officer’s law enforcement activities pose difficulties in and of themselves, the combination of their duties keeps them challenged both physically and mentally.

Many residents of Tennessee seek these challenges and apply to become wildlife officers. Applicants with a thorough knowledge of the requirements and selection process have the best chance at being successful.

Tennessee Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Ideal candidates for wildlife officer vacancies in Tennessee are passionate about conservation, have a strong sense of justice, and expertise in law enforcement. Theses diverse skillsets require applicants who can showcase their knowledge and experience in these areas. Shown below are the minimum criteria needed to apply for the role of wildlife officer in Tennessee:

Job Qualifications with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

The website of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency posts job applications and employment information. Eligibility criteria are shown here:

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 Tennessee at the time of appointment.

License: A valid Tennessee-issued driver’s license is required. Individuals must maintain an acceptable driving record.

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

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:

  • Convicted of a felony in Tennessee or any other state
  • Convicted of any offense in any state that would have been a felony if committed in Tennessee
  • Charged with a felony or found to be mentally incompetent
  • Found not guilty by reason of insanity of any felony
  • Determined to be a sex offender
  • Addicted or in danger of becoming addicted to drugs
  • Convicted, and committed to a state institution
  • Convicted of any offense which precludes you from carrying a firearm under State or federal law
  • Failed drug testing prior to employment

Academic Credentials: Wildlife officers must have a bachelor’s degree in wildlife, fisheries or natural resources management, biological or ecological sciences or forestry with 20 credits in wildlife science

Additional Requirements: Department of Human Resources application

Game Warden Training

Game Warden Training:

Throughout the 8-week course, new officers will learn the following essential skills in order to be an effective game warden:

  • Tennessee and federal wildlife laws and regulations
  • Firearms training
  • Law enforcement techniques
  • Evidence practices
  • Courtroom procedures and best practices

Officer Probation

Officers are on a probationary 1-year contract after successful completion of training

Recertification and Professional Development

Wildlife Officers have an annual requirement of 40 hours of refresher training

Interview: Candidates will have a face-to-face panel interview during the later stages of the application process

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

Hearing: The applicant must have unaided hearing adequate to perform all the essential duties and functions of a wildlife officer, 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. Applicants who have undergone corrective surgery for visual deficiencies may be required to submit additional medical 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.

Psychological Condition: Candidates must have suitable mental health for the responsibilities of the role.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Desired Qualifications

  • Required to identify and safely use various firearms
  • 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
  • Professional development or college courses in natural resource management, criminology, psychology, business management or sciences
  • Twenty credits of college coursework in wildlife biology
  • 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

Wildlife Officer Salaries

A look at median salaries in 2016 shows Tennessee’s wildlife officers earning 14% more than the national median for game wardens. The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development shows the salaries for the state’s wildlife officers at various experience levels:

  • Experienced – $68,680 ($33.02 hourly)
  • Median – $59,180 ($28.45 hourly)
  • Entry-level – $44,660 ($21.47 hourly)

The Tennessee Department of Human Resources provides the range of salaries for wildlife officers as they advance through the ranks (2017). Ranges for each rank represent differences in pay based on location, education, specialized role and time in service with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:

  • Wildlife Officer: $37,488 – $58,224
  • Wildlife Sergeant: $42,793 – $66,432
  • Wildlife Lieutenant: $44,712 – $69,420
  • Wildlife Captain: $42,792 – $66,432
  • Wildlife Major: $53,316 – $82,776

Wildlife officers in Nashville earned the 4th highest average salary in the country for this professional classification in 2016 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The median salary among wildlife officers in the Nashville workforce region exceeded the national median for game wardens by nearly $24,000.


Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

440 Hogan Rd.
Nashville, TN 37220
Phone: (615) 741-2958

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Austin Peay State University

601 College St, Clarksville, TN 37044
Phone: (931) 221-7011
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Belmont University

1900 Belmont Blvd, Nashville, TN 37212-3757
Phone: (615) 460-6000
  • Biology

Bethel University

325 Cherry Ave, McKenzie, TN 38201
Phone: (731) 352-4000
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Bryan College-Dayton

721 Bryan Drive, Dayton, TN 37321
Phone: (423) 775-2041
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Carson-Newman University

1646 S Russell Ave, Jefferson City, TN 37760
Phone: (865) 471-2000
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology

Chattanooga State Community College

4501 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37406-1097
Phone: (423) 697-4400
  • Criminal Justice

Christian Brothers University

650 East Parkway South, Memphis, TN 38104
Phone: (901) 321-3000
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Criminal Justice

Columbia State Community College

1665 Hampshire Pike, Columbia, TN 38401
Phone: (931) 540-2722
  • Criminal Justice

Cumberland University

1 Cumberland Square, Lebanon, TN 37087
Phone: (615) 444-2562
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

East Tennessee State University

1276 Gilbreath Drive, Johnson City, TN 37614
Phone: (423) 439-1000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Fisk University

1000 17th Ave North, Nashville, TN 37208-4501
Phone: (615) 329-8500
  • Biology

Freed-Hardeman University

158 E Main St, Henderson, TN 38340-2399
Phone: (800) 348-3481
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Hiwassee College

225 Hiwassee College Drive, Madisonville, TN 37354-4001
Phone: (423) 442-2001
  • Criminal Justice

King University

1350 King College Rd, Bristol, TN 37620-2699
Phone: (423) 968-1187
  • Biology

Lane College

545 Lane Ave, Jackson, TN 38301-4598
Phone: (731) 426-7500
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Le Moyne-Owen College

807 Walker Ave, Memphis, TN 38126-6595
Phone: (901) 435-1000
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Lee University

1120 N Ocoee St, Cleveland, TN 37311
Phone: (423) 614-8000
  • Biology
  • Ecology

Lincoln Memorial University

6965 Cumberland Gap Pkwy, Harrogate, TN 37752-9900
Phone: (423) 869-3611
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Lipscomb University

One University Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37204-3951
Phone: (615) 966-1000
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology

Martin Methodist College

433 West Madison Street, Pulaski, TN 38478-2799
Phone: (931) 363-9800
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Maryville College

502 E Lamar Alexander Pky, Maryville, TN 37804-5907
Phone: (865) 981-8000
  • Biology

Middle Tennessee State University

1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Phone: (615) 898-2300
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Milligan College

1 Blowers Blvd., Milligan College, TN 37682
Phone: (423) 461-8700
  • Biology

Motlow State Community College

6015 Ledford Mill Road, Tullahoma, TN 37388
Phone: (931) 393-1500
  • Criminal Justice

Remington College-Memphis Campus

2710 Nonconnah Blvd, Memphis, TN 38132
Phone: (901) 345-1000
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Remington College-Nashville Campus

441 Donelson Pk Ste 150, Nashville, TN 37214
Phone: (615) 889-5520
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Rhodes College

2000 North Parkway, Memphis, TN 38112-1690
Phone: (901) 843-3000
  • Biology

Roane State Community College

276 Patton Lane, Harriman, TN 37748
Phone: (865) 354-3000
  • Security and Protective Services

Sewanee-The University of the South

735 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383-1000
Phone: (931) 598-1000
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forest Sciences and Biology
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology

Southern Adventist University

4881 Taylor Cir, Collegedale, TN 37315-0370
Phone: (423) 236-2000
  • Biology

Southwest Tennessee Community College

737 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 333-5000
  • Security and Protective Services

Tennessee State University

3500 John A. Merritt Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209-1561
Phone: (615) 963-5111
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Tennessee Technological University

1 William L. Jones Drive, Cookeville, TN 38505-0001
Phone: (931) 372-3223
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology

Tennessee Temple University

1815 Union Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37404
Phone: (423) 493-4100
  • Biology

Tennessee Wesleyan College

204 East College Street, Athens, TN 37303
Phone: (423) 745-7504
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

615 McCallie Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598
Phone: (423) 425-4111
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

527 Andy Holt Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: (865) 974-1000
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forestry
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Ecology

The University of Tennessee-Martin

544 University Street, Martin, TN 38238-0002
Phone: (731) 881-7000
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Trevecca Nazarene University

333 Murfreesboro Rd, Nashville, TN 37210
Phone: (615) 248-1200
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Tusculum College

60 Shiloh Road, Greeneville, TN 37743
Phone: (423) 636-7300
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Biology

Union University

1050 Union University Dr, Jackson, TN 38305-3697
Phone: (731) 668-1818
  • Biology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Conservation Biology

University of Memphis

Southern Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152
Phone: (901) 678-2000
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Vanderbilt University

2101 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37240
Phone: (615) 322-7311
  • Biology
  • Microbiology

Welch College

3606 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37205-0117
Phone: (615) 844-5000
  • Biology