Environmental Conservation Officer

Career As an Environmental Conservation Officer

If you’re at your best when outdoors and the thought of spending eight hours a day in a cubicle makes you cringe, then a career as an environmental conservation officer might be for you. These law enforcement officers patrol parks, forest preserves, and wildlife areas to enforce the laws that protect our natural resources.

Job description

Like game wardens, environmental conservation officers enforce laws in the great outdoors. They patrol parks, forests, and wildlife preserves, investigating violations and educating the public. They may also conduct safety inspections on boats and recreational vehicles. They may even be called on to respond to emergencies.

Though they enforce the same kinds of crimes as other law enforcement officers, environmental conservation officers spend most of their time focusing on issues related to outdoor recreation. For example, if there’s a domestic disturbance at a state park or theft at a campsite, they resolve the issue. They also check fishing and hunting licenses and inspect campgrounds.

However, their most important duties are emergency response and education. If a wildlife animal is sick or injured, they save it. And if a school group or Hunter’s club visits a state park, they meet with them to promote environmental conservation. These specialized law enforcement officers are, in effect, Mother Nature’s Bodyguards.

Education and training requirements

An environmental conservation officer (ECO) is a law enforcement officer who enforces state and federal laws that protect natural resources, primarily fish and wildlife. They can also prosecute violations of motor vehicle and controlled substance statutes within their jurisdiction.

Many states require a bachelor’s degree in areas like criminal justice, fish and wildlife management, recreation resource management or environmental science. Applicants may also need to pass a civil service exam. Some states require an associate’s degree and work experience, but others only require a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Prospective ECOs should be physically fit and be willing to do rigorous field work. They also need to be able to travel long distances alone in a variety of terrain and weather conditions. ECOs often patrol by airplane, helicopter, four-wheel drive SUV, boat or all-terrain vehicle. They may also be required to use a weapon. ECOs must have a clean record and be 21 years old.


The salary for an environmental conservation officer depends on the type of job and level of experience. For example, senior conservation officers may receive a higher salary than junior conservation officers. They may also be eligible for promotions and increase their pay by completing additional training.

An environmental conservation officer is also known as a fish and game warden, wildlife officer or a forest ranger. These specialized law enforcement officers are responsible for enforcing laws relating to wildlife, recreational fishing and hunting. They are also in charge of educating the public about wildlife and protecting natural resources.

In addition to patrolling parks and forests, conservation officers may write reports and complete administrative work. They may work at the local, state or federal level. Most state conservation officers are assigned to a specific region or county, while federal conservation officers may travel across the country. Some officers are also in charge of putting together educational or training programs.

Work environment

If you love nature and the outdoors, you might be interested in a career as a conservation officer. These law enforcement officers specialize in protecting people, wildlife and natural resources in the great outdoors. They also protect environmental habitats and enforce fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. Some work for state or federal government agencies, while others work for natural resource organizations.

ECOs patrol and check hunters, fishermen and recreational outdoor enthusiasts for compliance with all state laws related to these activities as well as all federal laws pertaining to the protection of natural resources and their environment. They may also conduct surveillance and investigate significant environmental crimes.

The work environment for a conservation officer can be challenging and demanding. This career can often involve working over the weekend and on public holidays. In more senior positions, there is usually a greater proportion of office work and administrative duties compared to fieldwork. Depending on your employer, you may be eligible for tuition reimbursement or pay for work-related courses and NVQs.

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