Qualifications for a Federal Wildlife Officer

Federal Wildlife Officer at shooting range, sitting and shooting at target.  USFWS photo

The National Wildlife Refuge System Division of Refuge Law Enforcement is responsible for the physical security and emergency management on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands.  To become a Federal Wildlife Officer, you must like working outdoors in all kinds of weather! You also must enjoy working with people, because most of your job will consist of contacting and interacting with refuge visitors, neighbors, and other employees.

If you have an interest in becoming a Federal Wildlife Officer, we suggest that you visit your nearby National Wildlife Refuge and talk to the staff or an officer.

How To Apply

For current job openings please check USA Jobs and search for 1801 Federal Wildlife Officer in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each job announcement includes complete instructions on how to apply. Jobs are limited so please continue to check for current openings.

Qualifications and Requirements

Federal Wildlife Officers are commissioned law enforcement officers. You are required to carry firearms and other defensive equipment; therefore, you must be at least 18 years old, and physically and emotionally fit. A 2- or 4-year degree in natural resources conservation, criminal justice, or a related field is desirable, although applicable experience may be substituted for education.

Physical Fitness 

Physical fitness is crucial in obtaining and maintaining a commission. Before entry and then annually, officers must undergo a physical examination and be physically and medically capable of performing the essential duties of the position efficiently, without hazard to themselves or others. 

  • 1 ½ mile run
  • Push-ups
  • Percent body fat
  • Sit-ups
  • Agility run
  • Bench press

Age - You must be between the ages of 18 and 37 before entry.
Background Investigation - You must undergo an initial background investigation.
Firearms Qualifications - You must qualify bi-annually with all of the weapons that you carry.
Drug Tests - You must be tested before entry, and periodically thereafter.
Psychological Screening - You must pass a series of psychological screening tests before entry. 


After being selected, you must successfully complete several different phases of training as a Federal Wildlife Officer:  

  • Phase 1: Pre-Land Management Police Training Orientation (Pre-LMPT)
  • Phase 2: 18 weeks of Land Management Police Training (LMPT) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.
  • Phase 3: 3 weeks of Federal Wildlife Officer Basic School (FWOBS) at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Sheperdstown, Virginia.
  • Phase 4: 10 weeks of the Field Training and Evaluation Program.

Your performance will be continuously evaluated in all phases of the training. 

Advanced Training

After completing the initial training Federal Wildlife Officers continually hone their skills by attending bi-annual law enforcement training sessions to stay proficient with firearms qualifications, recent legal updates, and law enforcement investigative skills.  Federal Wildlife Officers also may attend other training to learn how to operate boats, ATVs, horses, heavy equipment, chainsaws, and a wide variety of equipment that may be needed in the course of the job. Federal Wildlife Officers also routinely attend other state and local training related to firearms and investigatory techniques.