Ways to get involved


The Office of Law Enforcement protects wildlife and plant resources by investigating wildlife crimes, combatting wildlife trafficking, and enforcing federal laws, regulating the wildlife trade, inspecting wildlife shipments, using forensic science and intelligence to analyze evidence, and working with our federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners to promote and strengthen international wildlife conservation. Working for the Office of Law Enforcement is exciting and rewarding. We offer several career paths in which you can support wildlife conservation.  

Our staff is comprised mostly of special agents and wildlife inspectors; however, there are positions in several other specialties such as forensic science, digital forensics, information technology, intelligence, finance and budget, communications and education, evidence custodians, and general administrative support. We support mentoring, continued training learning opportunities, a diverse workforce, career path flexibility, and more.


Special agents are plain clothes criminal investigators who enforce federal wildlife laws. They investigate wildlife crimes wherever they occur in the United States and may work globally with international counterparts. Our agents work in settings that range from major cities to rural duty stations located near some of the last remaining wilderness areas in our country.

Like all criminal investigators, they collect evidence, interview witnesses, question subjects, conduct surveillance, execute search warrants, make arrests, and help prepare cases for court. In addition, they often work undercover to infiltrate wildlife trafficking rings, illegal guiding operations, and other criminal groups to document violations from the “inside.” Covert investigations can range from simple “buy-bust” transactions, where agents arrange to purchase illegal wildlife from subjects, to multi-year probes where agents establish false identities and even run wildlife businesses to gain the confidence of the criminals. These investigations document violations of federal wildlife laws as well as such crimes as smuggling, conspiracy, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and making false statements.  

Specialized careers for special agents include leadership, digital forensics, intelligence, attaché, trainer, field work, and assisting with natural disaster response.

Requirements to Become a Special Agent:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a valid driver's license
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 37 (exceptions may apply for prior federal law enforcement officers or preference eligible veterans)
  • Have at least one year work experience equivalent to the GS-07 grade level in the federal service OR have a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree or two full years of progressively higher level graduate education; OR a combination of that education or experience 
  • Be able to legally possess a firearm, e.g. no felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Pass an extensive medical exam, psychological screening, background investigation, drug tests, and physical fitness tests

Medical Standards for Special Agent Employment:

Once selected, candidates must successfully pass a Physical Efficiency Battery (PEB) - we require individuals to pass the PEB at the 25th percentile or above. 

The test consists of:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • Bench press
  • Agility run
  • Sit and reach (measures flexibility)
  • Body composition (measures percentage of body fat)

Training Once Accepted:

  • Criminal Investigators Training Program, or it's equivalent, at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia
  • Special Agent Basic School which provides specialized training specific to wildlife criminal investigation
  • A year long field training program under the direction of field training special agents


Service Wildlife Inspectors are the nation’s front-line defense against the illegal wildlife trade, protect our nation from injurious species entering its ecosystem, ensure live animals are transported humanely, and facilitate a legal wildlife trade worth approximately $4 billion annually.

Working at the nation’s major international airports, ocean ports, and border crossings, they enforce a range of U.S. and international laws, regulations, and treaties that protect wildlife and limit commercial trade in endangered animals and plants. These professional import-export control officers are trained to identify thousands of different species, both live and as parts or products and verify that wildlife shipments match the items listed on declaration forms. They also work with intelligence analysts, special agents, and others to stop shipments that contain illegal wildlife or wildlife products, interdict smuggled items, and help the United States fulfill its commitment to global wildlife conservation.

Career paths for wildlife inspectors include leadership, canine corps, trainer, educational specialist, intelligence, and field work.

Requirements to Become a Wildlife Inspector:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a valid driver's license
  • Have at least one year work experience in the field of law enforcement and/or natural resources or inspections, OR have a four year course study leading to a bachelor's degree or possess a bachelor's degree
  • Pass an extensive medical exam, background investigation, and drug tests

Training Once Accepted:

  • Candidates must also pass the Wildlife Inspector Basic School at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia
  • A three-month field training program under the direction of senior wildlife inspectors

To begin the recruitment process, the Service issues national vacancy announcements via the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJobs website (www.usajobs.gov).  For more detailed information about our positions, please contact us at lawenforcement@fws.gov