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Becoming an Ohio Wildlife Officer

Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, with a Barn Owl

Law Enforcement, Wildlife Conservation, and Public Service

If you are interested in a career in law enforcement, wildlife conservation, and public service, consider becoming a State Wildlife Officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. We are always on the lookout for outstanding individuals for our next cadet academy. Wildlife officer cadets are hired as needed and the training academy is not conducted every year, but information on future opportunities will be posted here. The Division of Wildlife is the oldest state agency with law enforcement officers and the position is one of the most demanding in the wildlife and law enforcement field. Opportunities are limited, and competition is intense for this challenging job, but it may be the right choice for you if you have what it takes!

The following documents have information on the wildlife officer career and general application process. This includes qualifications, testing, and the training academy program. Interested individuals should review them thoroughly. 

Still want to learn more about what it takes to become an Ohio Wildlife Officer? Watch this recording of a live webinar with Officer Jim Quinlivan where he answers questions about how to embark on a career in Wildlife Law Enforcement.  

Ohio Wildlife Officers: What Does It Take? [YouTube video]

If you have questions about becoming an Ohio wildlife officer or wish to be added to the recruiting list for future opportunities (valid email address is needed), you can contact Law Enforcement Program Administrator Jim Quinlivan at 614-265-6314 or via email at wildlifeofficerrecruiting@dnr.ohio.gov.

Duties and Responsibilities of Wildlife Officers

Wildlife officers are commissioned state law enforcement officers with unique and challenging duties.

Law Enforcement: Wildlife officers enforce the Ohio Revised Code and Administrative Code relative to wildlife resources, property owned or administered by the Division of Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, stream pollution and littering, and all other areas of responsibility of the Division of Wildlife. They patrol thousands of acres of lands, Lake Erie, and miles of inland streams and lakes. They also serve a very important role as a point of contact with law enforcement and other agencies on topics of mutual interest and provide aid due to their skills, training, specialized equipment, and local knowledge of the areas in which they work.

Wildlife Conservation: Wildlife officers have a working knowledge of current fish and wildlife management projects and provide technical expertise for a range of situations. They often work directly with fish and wildlife biologists on a variety of projects and collect information by surveys and specimens.

Public Service: Wildlife officers are often the face of the division and are well known in their communities. They frequently speak at public functions and keep people informed of current wildlife activities and programs. They work together with Division of Wildlife communications specialists and education staff.

Wildlife officer cadets receive extensive training to prepare them for their duties in the field. This includes Oho peace officer basic training (if the applicant does not have current certification) and the Wildlife Officer Cadet Pre-Service Training Academy where cadets focus on all areas of Division of Wildlife responsibility and their specific duties. The academy training is residential, Monday through Friday and once completed cadets are promoted to wildlife officers. They will complete a six-month Field Training and Evaluation Program (FTO) working with experienced officers and gaining further knowledge of their area of assignment.

Training and development does not stop with the academy. Wildlife officers regularly receive advanced training in firearms, self-defense, driving skills, fish and wildlife conservation programs, public relations, and other important topics.

Minimum Qualifications for Wildlife Officer Cadets

  • Completion of associate core program in fish and/or wildlife management, criminal justice, environmental law enforcement, natural sciences, or related fields
  • Must be able to swim 100 yards in 5 minutes or less; tread water for a minimum of 5 minutes
  • Must be able to pass physical fitness test including push-ups, sit-ups, and 1.5-mile run
  • Valid driver's license
  • Must be at least 21 years of age before completion of peace officer basic training (approximately age 20 ½ would be eligible to apply)
  • Or must have equivalent of Minimum Qualifications noted above
  • Benefits
  • Doing something you love! Working with people and wildlife every day, usually outside!
  • Upon successful completion of the training academy cadets are promoted to wildlife officers earning $27.22/hour as the starting base pay excluding supplements and overtime
  • Home office, uniform, and physical fitness supplements
  • Members of the Law Enforcement Public Employees Retirement System
  • Medical insurance, dental and vision coverage
  • Vacation, sick, and personal leave allowances
  • Flexible working schedule – there are no set shifts
  • Regular training, uniforms, and equipment provided including a fully equipped patrol vehicle assigned to the officer
  • Excellent advancement opportunities to the supervisor, investigator, and administrative ranks
  • Additional duty opportunities such as an instructor, field training officer, K9 handler, and honor guard team member

Are You Qualified?

  • College coursework or degree program in approved areas or equivalent 18 months experience
  • Must be able to pass fitness and swim test
  • Valid driver's license
  • Must be at least 21 years of age before completion of peace officer basic training (approximately age 20 ½ would be eligible to apply)


  • Starting pay $27.22/hr. at minimum
  • Medical insurance, dental and vision coverage
  • Flexible working schedule – no shift work
  • Additional duty opportunities with special skills and teams

Apply Online