New Mexico Wildlife

New Mexico Department of Game & FIsh

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Last Updated: 12/28/04

Conservation Officer Career Opportunities




The New Mexico Department
of Game and Fish offers a diverse choice of career opportunities in a state that has a tremendous amount of biological diversity and wildlife. Six of the seven life zones are found in New Mexico with habitats ranging from desert to alpine. The available diversity in jobs and work environments allows for an employee to have a uniquely challenging and rewarding career.

By far the majority of employees enter the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as a conservation officer. Once you have completed training as a conservation officer, you have the possibility to move on to any other position within the Department, depending on applicant qualifications and job opening availability.




What Is A conservation officer? -Today's a conservation officer is more than a "game warden". They
are wildlife managers that are involved in all aspects of managing the wildlife populations in their district.
The conservation officer surveys wildlife, participates in public relations, recommends hunting seasons,
controls wildlife damage and develops recommendations for wildlife habitat. In addition, the conservation
officer enforces laws that are designed to help conserve, preserve and maintain wildlife populations.

The conservation officer is the most visible representative of the Department in local communities. You
would be the jack-of-all-trades for wildlife issues and would, in some way, be involved in every wildlife
management topic that occurs in your district.

What qualifications are required?

What training will I receive in order to become a conservation officer?

What advancements are available and which divisions can I work in?

How and when do I apply?

Who can I contact for more information?


Officer Checking Angling License


Salaries are competitive but not high compared to some
other professions. However the State of New Mexico
has a generous retirement system and also provides
other employee benefits.

Conservation officer Requirements
-Because the
Conservation officer position is required to become a
certified peace officer, you must be able to meet the
following standards for acceptance into the
New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. Prior
to being hired, an applicant must pass the physical
performance test standards established by the New
Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. The test is based
on accepted standards and is adjusted based on gender
and age. Click Here For Standards
Applicant must also pass; 1) a psychological screening
exam 2) medical screening examination 3)
comprehensive background investigation.


What qualifications are required?

Education-You must have graduated from an accredited college
or university with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Law Enforcement, Fisheries Science, Fisheries Management, Biology, Forestry, Forestry Management, Agricultural Science, Outdoor Recreation, Environmental Science, Criminal Justice Ecology, Resource Economics, Ecology, Natural Resource Management, Zoology,
Range Science, Behavioral and/or Social Science, Animal Science in order to work as a conservation officer for the Department.

Committment-The field of wildlife management, whether as a
conservation officer or a wildlife biologist, requires a strong
personal commitment. You must be a self-motivated person
who is willing to work in remote locations and accept
the additional demands placed on you by a career in this field.
The job allows for a tremendous amount of freedom. It also requires
that you be willing to take the responsibility for completing the job
properly with very little direct supervision. Duties and hours may be
arduous and you often work alone in remote areas on a regular basis.
The job is physically demanding and requires that you maintain good
physical and mental health. The conservation officer occupation like
nearly all wildlife management jobs involve working with the public.
Conservation officers give oral presentations, teach hunters
education and even write news items for distribution.

Officer Checking Elk License



What training will I receive in order to become a conservation officer?

After being hired, you will be assigned to a training officer for about a 1 year time period. The
training period is a demanding time in which you will be exposed to many new and exciting
activities. You could be checking anglers or flying big game surveys one-day or on horseback
in a wilderness area to trap bighorn sheep, the next day training is as diverse as the job for a
conservation officer.

During the first year, you will attend the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy for 20 weeks
and the Department Recruit School for up to 6 weeks. Included in the Department's Recruit
School are training in: wildlife laws and regulations, interviews and interrogations, crime scene
analysis, search warrants, firearms, officer survival and other classes that will help you become
a professional conservation officer.

Training in skills such as wildlife capture techniques, wildlife survey methods and field activities
related to wildlife and fisheries management are also part of the overall curriculum. You will
also become a certified Hunter Education instructor, often teaching in local communities.

All of this training will be with experienced officers and biologist in order to help you to acquire
the skills necessary to succeed as a conservation officer.

When hired you will be assigned to a District. The Department tries to
match district assignments with employee preferences and/or Department needs.

What advancements are available and which divisions can I work in?

After an initial assignment to a district, a conservation officer has a wide choice in career paths.
A conservation officer has the ability to remain on district or apply for other openings. It is
common for people to move back and forth between divisions and locations in the state during
their career. This allows for the person to gain experience in a variety of jobs and habitat types.
It also allows for a truly varied and challenging career.









    Conservation Officer At Day Time Roadblock

    What are the pay and benefits?
    • The starting salary range for a conservation officer is $24,346 to $43,103 per year. The
      actual salary offered is based on an individual’s education and experience.
    • The average starting salary for a trainee at this time is around $27,500
    • Please go to the State Personnel Website for details on State Employee benefits,
      ranges and other hiring information.
    • The normal workweek is 40 hours. However, hours are often irregular and include
      working weekends.
    • After completing training, you will receive a pay increase. The salary range for officers
      who have successfully completed training varies from $26,520 to $47,155 per year.
    • Comprehensive benefits package includes paid vacation, sick leave and retirement plan.
    • Also available are group life, health, dental, vision and legal insurance plans.
    • New Mexico offers a 25-year retirement plan. You can retire with 75% of the average
      of your 3 highest years of salary. You can retire with 80% of your average high 3 years
      salary after 26 years 8 months of service (certain limitations and restrictions apply -
      Please consult PERA for complete details).


How and when do I apply?

    • All open jobs are listed on the New Mexico State Personnel Office web page and
      applications can also be found there. Follow the application procedures described
      in the job announcement or on the NMSPO web page.
    • Applications may only be submitted when the job is being advertised.
    • Conservation officer openings are normally advertised in early July and early
      February but could occur at any time. The next projected advertisement for hiring
      conservation officers is in February 2004.
    • Other positions can be advertised at anytime.
    • Position announcements are open for approximately 2 weeks.
    • Current N. M. Game and Fish Job Opportunities Page Or
      Visit State Personnel



Who can I contact for more information?

    • Bob Culp, Training Coordinator
      Phone: (505) 326-3168
    • Becky Bozone, Personnel Department
      Phone: (505) 476-8028

      Please request information from Becky Bozone by sending your address and
      request to