How to Become a Game Warden in Wisconsin

Game wardens in Wisconsin work for the state’s Department of Natural Resources and are known as conservation wardens. Wisconsin boasts a variety of protected areas including forest, prairies, lakes, and rivers. In fact, forests cover almost half of the state, which also has more than 11,000 miles of lakes and rivers.

Therefore, Wisconsin’s conservation wardens enforce regulations in a large diversity of habitats. More than 600,000 deer licenses are sold each year in Wisconsin. The large number of deer also draws poachers, and apprehending them is one of the key duties of these wardens.

In addition to their law enforcement duties, Wisconsin’s conservation wardens also monitor the health of fish and wildlife in their natural habitat and are the public face of the Department.

This diversity of duties requires a wide breadth of knowledge ranging from skills in law enforcement to an in-depth knowledge of the biology and ecology of Wisconsin’s natural resources. Combining these different roles is highly challenging, but many people seek this challenge and through their hat in the ring to become conservation wardens.

Applicants with a thorough knowledge of the requirements and application process to become a warden for the Department are better able to present their experience and knowledge when they apply for these jobs. Read on to discover how to best prepare for the application process in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Game Warden Eligibility Requirements

Although their primary job duties involve managing fish and game regulations, Wisconsin’s conservation wardens also may be called upon to enforce any state law. The diverse set of skills required indicates that applicants should be well prepared and expect intense competition.

Applicants who can assertively promote their expertise and relevant skills will be better equipped to face this competition when they apply for a job as a conservation warden.

Basic Job Qualifications with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Applicants can find additional information and job postings on the website of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Eligibility criteria are shown below:

Age: 18 years of age or older when academy training begins

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 Wisconsin resident at the time of hire.

License: A valid Wisconsin-issued driver’s license is required. Individuals must agree to participate in driver safety training opportunities through the state as they arise.

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 in-depth personal and professional investigation in order to continue the application process. Disqualifying elements can include:

  • Convicted of a felony in Wisconsin or any other state;
  • Convicted of any offense in any state which would have been a felony if committed in Wisconsin;
  • Convicted of any offense which precludes you from carrying a firearm under State or federal law
  • Failed urinalysis drug testing prior to or during employment
  • Record of domestic or sexual violence

Academic Credentials: High school diploma or GED is required. A minimum of 60 credits from an accredited university or college with a concentration in natural resources, environmental protection, law enforcement or related fields is required.

Additional Requirements: Online exam

Written assessment

Law Enforcement Certification Training

520 hours over the first year of conditional employment

Field Placement

  • 1-year assigned to a senior warden as a mentor
  • Takes place in a temporarily assigned county or station

Interview: Candidates will have a face-to-face interview with members of the Conservation Warden team 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 ‘normal’ long distance, directional, and voice conversation hearing.

Vision: Vision corrected to 20/20 in each eye. Normal color vision with no other conditions is required for the role.

Physical Readiness: The applicant must be in sound physical condition. Physical readiness testing includes benchmarks for:

  • Running
  • Push-ups
  • Weightlifting
  • Sit-ups
  • Vertical jump
  • Flex box testing
  • Swim test
  • Water confidence assessment

Psychological Condition: The applicant must be in robust psychological and emotional health to be considered fit for training and subsequent 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 Wisconsin 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
  • Ability to use proprietary software
  • Ability to engage in mechanical work.
  • 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 language(s) are an asset

Salaries for Conservation Wardens

Wisconsin’s conservation wardens earned an average salary of $51,390 ($24.71/hour) as of 2015 according to the state’s Department of Workforce Development.  The median was virtually the same at $51,430 ($24.72), while experienced wardens earned an average of $57,740 ($27.76).

The State of Wisconsin Division of Personnel Management provides the full range of salaries, from a minimum of $45,864 ($22.05/hour) for entry-level wardens with minimal education and experience to a maximum of $67,080 ($32.25/hour) for those with years of experience and strong credentials.



Wisonsin Department of Natural Resources

101 S Webster Street, PO Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921
Phone: (608) 219-4887

School Programs

ProgramPrograms Offered

Alverno College

3400 S 43rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53234-3922
Phone: (414) 382-6000
  • Biology

Beloit College

700 College St, Beloit, WI 53511-5595
Phone: (608) 363-2000
  • Biology

Cardinal Stritch University

6801 N Yates Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53217-3985
Phone: (414) 410-4000
  • Biology

Carroll University

100 N East Ave, Waukesha, WI 53186
Phone: (262) 547-1211
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Carthage College

2001 Alford Park Dr, Kenosha, WI 53140-1994
Phone: (262) 551-8500
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

College of Menominee Nation

N172 State Highway 47&55, Keshena, WI 54135-1179
Phone: (715) 799-5600
  • Natural Resources, Conservation

Concordia University-Wisconsin

12800 N Lake Shore Dr, Mequon, WI 53097-2402
Phone: (262) 243-5700
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Edgewood College

1000 Edgewood College Drive, Madison, WI 53711-1997
Phone: (608) 663-4861
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

Fox Valley Technical College

1825 N Bluemound Dr, Appleton, WI 54912-2277
Phone: (920) 735-5600
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Forest Firefighting and Investigation

Lakeland College

W3718 South Drive, Cth M, Plymouth, WI 53073
Phone: (920) 565-1000
  • Biology

Lawrence University

College Ave, Appleton, WI 54911
Phone: (920) 832-7000
  • Biology

Maranatha Baptist University

745 West Main Street, Watertown, WI 53094
Phone: (920) 261-9300 x2320
  • Biology

Marian University

45 S National Ave, Fond Du Lac, WI 54935-4699
Phone: (920) 923-7600
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Security and Protective Services

Marquette University

1250 W Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (414) 288-7710
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Mount Mary University

2900 N. Menomonee River Pky, Milwaukee, WI 53222-4597
Phone: (414) 258-4810
  • Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration

Northland College

1411 Ellis Avenue, Ashland, WI 54806-3999
Phone: (715) 682-1699
  • Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Biology

Ripon College

300 West Seward Street, Ripon, WI 54971-0248
Phone: (920) 748-8115
  • Biology

Saint Norbert College

100 Grant St, De Pere, WI 54115-2099
Phone: (920) 337-3181
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Biology

Silver Lake College of the Holy Family

2406 S Alverno Rd, Manitowoc, WI 54220-9319
Phone: (920) 684-6691
  • Biology

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

105 Garfield Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
Phone: (715) 836-2637
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

2420 Nicolet Dr, Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Phone: (920) 465-2000
  • Biology

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

1725 State St, La Crosse, WI 54601-9959
Phone: (608) 785-8000
  • Biology
  • Microbiology

University of Wisconsin-Madison

500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, WI 53706-1380
Phone: (608) 262-1234
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Water, Wetlands and Marine Resources Management
  • Land Use Planning and Management or Development
  • Forestry
  • Forest Sciences and Biology
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Biology
  • Botany, Plant Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Conservation Biology

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

2200 E Kenwood Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413
Phone: (414) 229-1122
  • Water, Wetlands and Marine Resources Management
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology and Animal Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

800 Algoma Blvd, Oshkosh, WI 54901
Phone: (920) 424-1234
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin-Parkside

900 Wood Rd, Kenosha, WI 53141-2000
Phone: (262) 595-2573
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

1 University Plaza, Platteville, WI 53818-3001
Phone: (608) 342-1421
  • Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Biology
  • Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin-River Falls

410 S 3rd St, River Falls, WI 54022-5001
Phone: (715) 425-3913
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Land Use Planning and Management or Development
  • Biology

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

2100 Main St, Stevens Point, WI 54481-3897
Phone: (715) 346-0123
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Forestry
  • Wildlife and Wildlands Science and Management
  • Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Biology

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Belknap & Catlin, Superior, WI 54880-4500
Phone: (715) 394-8101
  • Biology

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

800 W Main St, Whitewater, WI 53190-1790
Phone: (262) 472-1234
  • Biology

Viterbo University

900 Viterbo Drive, La Crosse, WI 54601-8804
Phone: (608) 796-3000
  • Biology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Criminal Justice

Wisconsin Lutheran College

8800 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226-4699
Phone: (414) 443-8800
  • Biology
  • Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography