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The Hiring Process

Warden Recruitment

Wisconsin Conservation Warden Patrol Boat


Our hiring process timeline varies from year to year, so please take time to review the information below as you prepare to apply for a conservation warden position. Frequently monitoring this website is one way to get the most current information about our hiring process. The conservation warden hiring process takes approximately seven months and generally begins in the spring of each year. Applications must be submitted through Wisc.Jobs once the job is posted. More information on the initial application process can be found below.

The Wisconsin DNR has begun station-specific hiring, allowing candidates to know ahead of time what geographic area in the state they will be assigned to (typically all or part of a county). Once available stations are known, they will be shared with applicants for review and applicants can indicate where in the state they are willing to accept a conservation warden position. This station selection process typically occurs towards the end of our hiring process but before conditional job offers are made. New conservation warden recruits will not begin working in these assigned stations until they complete the academy and field training 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 (Wisconsin residency is not required to apply but will be required if you accept a job offer).
  • 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 is outlined below.

Date Event
April Hiring Process Open (approx. 3 weeks)
June Initial One-Way Interview (online)
July Panel Interview & Fitness Assessments (in-person)
August Background Questionnaires Submitted
August/September Background Investigations Conducted
November Conditional Job Offers Made To Selected Candidates
November Medical Evaluations
First week of January 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.

During the application process, you will need to submit both a cover letter and a resume on Wisc.Jobs.

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. 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 educational 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

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 review each application and give it a score based on a defined benchmark scoring structure. Once the panel has completed its review, you will receive an email indicating if you are eligible to continue in the hiring process. Remember, honesty is vital in any law enforcement career, so please ensure your application is accurate.

The Interview

Top candidates from the initial applicant screening will be asked to participate in a short initial online interview.

Based on the initial interview, candidates 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 and abilities mentioned earlier on this page. How have you demonstrated them in your personal life, education, volunteer activity or work? This is your opportunity to relate your passion, skills, abilities and knowledge to the conservation warden job.

Physical Fitness Testing

Wisconsin law requires that all law enforcement officers must be in excellent health and free from any physical condition that 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 to the background investigation phase of 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
  • 300-meter 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 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 themselves from the pool edge and will tread in water that is at least 7 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 7 feet of water and no deeper than 12 feet of water and retrieve an unweighted 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 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 and hearing and vision tests (see below). The psychological screening includes a questionnaire, a 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.

Hearing and Vision Standards

Applicants must pass DNR vision and hearing standards to qualify for the conservation warden position.

Vision Standards

  • With both eyes open, the candidate has distant binocular and near visual acuity, with or without corrective lenses, of at least 20/30 (Snellen), with visual acuity in the poorest eye of at least 20/100.
  • Ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green and amber.
  • Fields of vision of at least 85 degrees in the horizontal meridian in each eye.

Hearing Standards

  • Hearing levels shall be tested from 500 to 6,000 hertz (all frequencies, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 6,000 hertz).
  • Job placement is precluded if the average hearing loss, by ear, aided or unaided, is greater than 25 decibels at the 500-, 1,000-, 2,000- and 3,000-hertz levels in either ear with no single loss in excess of 40 decibels in any frequency.

Learn More

Please take time to view our recorded webinar on the conservation warden hiring and training process.


Have questions about the hiring process or information on this page? Contact a recruiter or sign up for warden recruiting email updates.