Refuge Law Enforcement

Protecting Your National Wildlife Refuges

Federal Wildlife Officers train at the firing range.
Federal Wildlife Officers train at the firing range. Credit: USFWS.

How Do I Become A Federal Wildlife Officer?

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Requirements | Next Steps for Selected Candidates | Employment Benefits | Application Links | Benefits & Pay Information | Training Information | Recruitment Brochure

Federal Wildlife Officers are commissioned law enforcement officers. You must enjoy working with people, because most of your job will consist of contacting and interacting with refuge visitors, neighbors, and other employees.

We stand ready to protect our visitors and natural resources 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. Our job is very rewarding, but can be extremely challenging. We frequently work alone in remote locations. We work long hours in arduous terrain at times. FWO’s have a tremendous responsibility and must be highly motivated independent workers. From urban refuges to remote hunting and fishing camps, a high degree of professionalism is required to work with a diverse population.

To apply, go to and search for 1801 Federal Wildlife Officer in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Requirements to Become a Federal Wildlife Officer

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To become a Federal Wildlife Officer you must:

  • 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 in the field of law enforcement and/ or natural resources OR have a four year course study leading to a bachelor’s degree or possess a bachelor’s degree with a major focus in natural resource management, natural sciences, park and recreation science, criminal justice or other closely related subjects to the management and protection of natural and cultural resources
  • Be able to legally possess a firearm, i.e. no felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Pass an extensive medical exam, psychological screening, background investigation, drug tests, and physical fitness tests

Next Steps for Selected Candidates

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Once selected, candidates must successfully:

  • Pass the Physical Efficiency Battery (PEB) - We require individuals to pass the PEB at the 25th percentile or above. PEB Scores for age and gender can be found here.
  • The test consists of:
    • 1.5 mile run
    • Bench Press
    • Agility Run
    • Sit and Reach (measures flexibility)
    • Body composition (measures percentage of body fat)
  • Complete an arduous 17-week law enforcement training course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA
  • Complete advanced wildlife officer training at the National Conservation Training Center in Sheperdstown, WV.
  • Complete 10 Weeks of field training under the direction of senior officers.

Employment Benefits

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  • Higher paying law enforcement pay-scale, starting at GL-05 ($33,829) with a non-competitive promotion increase to GL-09 ($61, 031)
  • Opportunities to work in locations all across the United States to include the Pacific Islands & the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Low cost health and life insurance, retirement plan, paid leave, paid Federal holidays
  • Promotional potential to become a Senior Officer, Zone Officer, Regional Chief of Law Enforcement, Branch Chief and Division Chief
  • Specialized positions include Canine Officer, Pilot, Diver, Training Officer and many more

Helpful Links When Applying

Links for Benefit and Pay information

Links for Training Information

Who We Are

Federal Wildlife Officers.

What We Do

Federal Wildlife Officers.

Career Information

Federal Wildlife Officers.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Last modified: April 29, 2016
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.