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The Hiring Process

Warden Recruitment

Wisconsin Conservation Warden Patrol Boat


We have updated our hiring process steps for 2021, so please take time to review the below information as you prepare to apply for a conservation warden position. Unlike past years, candidates will not be submitting resumes and cover letters during the initial application period in April. The initial application will instead consist of three questions, which applicants will have to submit written responses to. Applications will continue to be submitted through Wisc.Jobs. More information on the initial application process can be found below.

The conservation warden hiring process takes approximately six months and generally begins in April each year. Frequently monitoring this website is one way to get the most current information about our hiring process.

Basic qualifications and considerations include:

  • Minimum age of 21 years old upon hire
  • Possess or be able to obtain a Wisconsin driver's license
  • Possess a minimum of 60 college credits (or approved credit waiver from WI DOJ LESB) or be able to earn 60 college credits (in any topic) within five years of being hired.  Candidates who do not yet have at least 60 college credits when hired will be required to attend schooling on their own time to meet this requirement.
  • No felony or domestic violence convictions
  • Obtain Hunter, Boating, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Snowmobile safety certificates
  • No previous law enforcement work experience is required

The general timeline for our hiring process:

Date Event
April Hiring Process Open (Approx. 2 Weeks)
May Initial Interview
June Panel Interview & Fitness Assessments
July Background Questionnaires Submitted
August Background Investigations Conducted
September Conditional Job Offers Made to Selected Candidates
Late September to early October Medical Evaluations
Late October First Day of Employment for New Warden Recruits

The Application

When the job announcement goes live, you will begin by filling out the application at Wisc.Jobs. If you have never applied for a job on, you will need to create an account before you begin the application.

For the 2021 application process, you will no longer submit a resume or cover letter. Instead, on Wisc.Jobs you will find an initial assessment that is comprised of three questions you will be required to answer in writing. There will be no time limit to answer these three written questions, but you will need to submit your final written responses before the deadline for the application period.

As part of this initial application, you will also need to complete a form stating you agree to basic conditions of employment. Instructions for this segment will be outlined within the job announcement.

Below are some qualifications, experiences and competencies to consider as you prepare for the written assessment. Although subject to change during future hiring periods, the below list is a great starting point and example of the core characteristics/experiences of a well-qualified candidate:

  • Volunteer experience participating in, engaging in, teaching, leading or organizing community organizations, civic groups, or service organizations
  • Experience with natural resources either through learning (education) or interacting with our natural resources (e.g. camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, kayaking, bird watching, motorsports, etc.)
  • Experience sharing your passion for natural resources with others in personal, professional or education settings
  • Experience serving, working or engaging with people who are different from you
  • Customer service and problem-solving experience
  • Experience working in teams, including team sports, work projects, etc.
  • Experience teaching, tutoring, guiding, mentoring, or coaching others
  • Education in a related field
  • Experience educating, enforcing or investigating natural resources laws

When drafting your written responses in the initial application, please pay close attention to the bullet points listed above and the qualifications listed in the job announcement. If you have experiences or skills that would satisfy a benchmark, make sure to mention them and use multiple examples, if possible. Please be sure to complete the initial application in its entirety, including agreeing to the basic conditions of employment. Applicants will be disqualified if they do not properly submit their written responses and or agree to the conditions of employment.

A rating panel will read each written response and give it a score based on a defined benchmark scoring structure. The panel members then send their scores to human resources (HR). When HR uploads the scores into Wisc.Jobs, you will receive an email indicating if you are eligible to continue in the hiring process. If you are, the email will contain a score. The more benchmarks you meet, the better your score. Remember, honesty is vital in any law enforcement career, so please ensure your written responses are accurate.

The Interview

Top candidates from the initial applicant screening will be asked to participate in a short initial interview (it may be virtual or in-person).

Based on the initial interview, those candidates who are selected to continue in the process will then be invited to a second, longer interview (it may be virtual or in-person).

The interview questions will relate to the warden career and your relevant competencies, and candidates will be provided the questions ahead of time to prepare their verbal responses. In preparation for the interviews, take time to review the original job posting, and the desired strengths, skills, abilities mentioned earlier on this page. How have you demonstrated them in your personal life, education, volunteer activity, and/or work? This is your opportunity relate your passion, skills, abilities and knowledge to the conservation warden job.

Physical Fitness Testing

This all-day event consists of pre-employment fitness testing and a swim test and does not have an opportunity for the assessments to be taken at a different location.

Wisconsin law requires that all law enforcement officers must be in excellent health and free from any physical condition which might adversely affect their performance as a law enforcement officer. Candidates need to pass all of the pre-employment fitness standards in order to move on in the hiring process. The standards are as follows:

  • Vertical Jump - 11.5 inches
  • Agility Run - 23.4 seconds
  • Sit-ups - 24 in one minute
  • Push-ups - 18 untimed
  • 300m Run - 82 seconds
  • 1.5 mile run - 20:20 minutes

Learn more about the DOJ Fitness Testing Standards

There is no swim test component to the pre-employment physical fitness testing, but swimming skills do come into play once you are hired. Conservation wardens regularly work near and on the water, and are therefore expected to be able to swim and perform some water-related tasks. Once hired, new warden recruits need to pass a swim assessment within their first year of employment. The DNR may provide swimming lessons to new warden recruits who would benefit from additional practice. The required swimming assessment consists of:

  • 300-Yard Swim -- warden recruit must swim 300-yards without aid using any stroke in a swimming pool wearing swimsuits. This event is untimed.
  • Treading Water -- warden recruit will disassociate from the pool edge and will tread in water that is at least seven feet deep, for a minimum of five minutes. Treading water is defined as pumping your arms and/or legs, maintaining an upright position, and keeping your head above water. Floating is not permitted. The participant may not use the edges of the pool.
  • Headfirst Surface Dive -- warden recruit will disassociate themselves from the pool edge, tread water and perform a headfirst surface dive in at least seven feet of water and no deeper than twelve feet of water and retrieve an un-weighted object.

The Background Investigation

Successful candidates who pass all of the fitness testing and rank highest in the second interview are then selected to enter the background investigation phase of the hiring process. The background investigation phase takes about a month and is very extensive. Background investigators review past employment, past residences, relationships, school records, criminal records, traffic history, military records, financial history and former background investigations done by other law enforcement agencies (if applicable). Our background investigators are trained to identify omissions and inconsistencies. The most important part of the background investigation is your honesty. Lying about even a small mistake from your past can remove you from consideration in our hiring process. We understand that no person is perfect, so please be open and honest with our background investigators.

The Conditional Offer

Once background investigations are completed, top candidates will be given conditional job offers! Before this conditional offer becomes official, a candidate must pass a medical and psychological exam. The medical exam includes a drug screening, physical exam, hearing and vision tests. The psychological screening includes a questionnaire, written assessment and an interview with a psychologist. A conditional offer may be rescinded if any of the medical or psychological screenings are not passed.

Candidates with conditional offers also need to be eligible to drive state-owned vehicles. A candidate must have had no OWIs within the past year and less than three moving violations or at-fault accidents within the past two years. Candidates also need to have boating, ATV and snowmobile safety certificates.