Life As a Fish & Game Warden


Having a career as a fish and game warden can be enjoyable and rewarding for individuals who enjoy outdoor work and recreation. However, as with any job, the life of a fish and game warden is not without challenges. Understanding the role of a game warden in the larger community is the first step in determining if this career is right for you.

Job Description

  • Fish and game wardens are law enforcement officials who are responsible for patrolling and protecting forests, rivers, lakes, wetlands, coastlines, beaches, deserts and other areas. They wear uniforms, carry weapons and have the authority to issue warnings and citations as they deem appropriate. When necessary, they conduct investigations or appear in court to follow through with any problematic cases. Game wardens may also be asked to assist in research and population counts for birds, fish, deer and other animals that are native to the area. They are generally responsible for one county, though fish and game wardens who work on a federal level often oversee several counties.


  • Fish and game wardens must be physically fit and willing to work outdoors for extended periods of time. They must be thoroughly trained in both local and federal laws regarding the appropriate use of boating, fishing and hunting grounds. Game wardens must have good vision and hearing and be qualified to carry a weapon. They must also be fingerprinted and have a clean criminal history.

Work Environment

  • Most people who become fish and game wardens do it because they love the outdoor environment. While working outside is a significant part of this career, job seekers should keep in mind that game wardens must often do administrative work in an office setting. Many times, wardens must work alone outdoors with only the minimal backup staff. The hours are sometimes flexible, but they often exceed the typical 40-hour work week. However, many game wardens are able to spend at least some of their time working from a home office.

Pros and Cons

  • In an interview for, retired fish and game warden Tom Mckay outlined the best and worst parts of his career. He noted that his favorite part of the job was the time he spent working outdoors and the lasting friendships he developed with the men he worked alongside. He disliked the administrative tasks and the job’s high demands on his time. “It’s not a job—it’s a way of life,” he said. He also mentioned that he had very little time to hunt and fish after accepting his job as a fish and game warden.


  • Most individuals who pursue a career as a fish and game warden major in wildlife management or criminal justice. However, this is not always a requirement.


  • Salary for a fish and game warden may vary greatly depending on the area and the demands of the position. In 2010, the average annual salary was $56,030.

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  • Photo Credit deer image by Joan Stanton from
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