Q: I’m interested in becoming a conservation officer. What steps should I take to pursue this career?
A: As a conservation officer, you get to work outside in a variety of conditions, patrol from specialized vehicles, and help protect the state’s natural resources. If this sounds like the career for you, it’s best to start early, as soon as you graduate high school.
Conservation officers are licensed peace officers by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Licensing generally requires a two- or four-year law enforcement or criminal justice degree, although there are certificate courses for those who hold a degree in another field.
If you meet the education requirements, you’re eligible to take the POST licensing exam. Information on licensing and colleges that offer the training are found on the POST website: https://dps.mn.gov/entity/post/Pages/default.aspx.
Once you pass the licensing exam, you may apply to become a conservation officer. However, we average over 700 applicants each time we open the hiring process.
In order to better prepare yourself for the job and become a more competitive applicant, there are several things you can do. One is to obtain a four-year degree in a natural resources related field such as biology, forestry, wildlife management or fisheries management.
Another is to get involved in local conservation clubs and become a volunteer firearms safety, ATV or snowmobile instructor. The DNR also offers a number of seasonal internships, which help to boost your resume as well.
Candidates who are hired by the DNR must then complete the 14-week Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley, followed by 16 weeks of field training.
Becoming a conservation officer takes dedication and commitment, both valued traits for the job. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired the first time around. This career is definitely worth the wait.
Aaron Kahre, assistant training coordinator, DNR Enforcement Division