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ODNR Division of Wildlife - Wildlife Careers

Pursuing a Division of Wildlife Career

Wildlife Officer Cadet Academy Recruitment Video View all ODNR job postings

If you are interested in a career in the Field of Fish and Wildlife Management/Research or Law Enforcement we recommend studying the following:

In High School: Besides your core courses, you should emphasize courses in the sciences such as biology, chemistry, and math, and in communications including composition and public speaking. Taking advanced courses in these areas is recommended. Participating in natural resource classes and FFA activities is also recommended.

In College: It is practically impossible to obtain even an entry-level position without a college education. Some colleges or universities do not offer a major in wildlife or fisheries management or law enforcement. If such a major is not available at the university of your choice, a major in biology, ecology or zoology with emphasis in mammalogy (the study of mammals), ornithology (the study of birds) or ichthyology (the study of fishes) would suffice.

University vs. Technical School: Most technical schools offer a two-year degree and have courses, which will address most of the entry-level requirements. If you choose to go to a technical school or two-year college, make sure the school is accredited and courses offered are transferable to other colleges and universities.

A Bachelor or Master of Science degree from a university is preferred and offers you better promotional opportunities. This is a minimum if you desire research type positions. Regardless of which educational institution you choose to attend, be a conscientious student. Good grades are important. Jobs in fisheries and wildlife are limited and turnover is low; therefore, those with the highest grades will be in a better position to compete for the few available positions.

Division of Wildlife Career Area Index



Fish Management and Research

Fish Management

The Division of Wildlife manages the fisheries of 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2 ¼ million acres of Lake Erie, and Ohio’s portion of 481 miles of the Ohio River. For the benefit of approximately two million anglers and other resource users, the Division manages water areas by improving spawning habitat, installing fish attractors, stocking, implementing fishing regulations, and incorporating structural features to improve fish habitat. Management also includes monitoring fish populations and angler harvest by conducting electro fishing, netting, and creel censuses. An important service to anglers is the construction and maintenance of facilities such as shoreline fishing areas and boat ramps at piers and parking areas. Efforts are continuing to make these and other facilities available to persons with mobility disabilities. Providing fisheries information to the public through publications, clinics, and personal contact is an important aspect of serving Ohio’s anglers. 

To maintain a variety of fishing opportunities in Ohio, the Division operates six hatcheries, which annually propagate up to 30 million fish. Some of the primary species produced are walleye, saugeye, channel catfish, hybrid striped bass, muskellunge, and rainbow trout.


Fisheries Research

The Division conducts research on Ohio’s inland lakes and streams and the Ohio River to develop management practices that will improve the fisheries of these waters. The fisheries of Lake Erie are monitored constantly, in cooperation with the other Lake Erie states and the provinc of Ontario, as a basis for developing management programs for this heavily fished body of water. 

The positions needed to fulfill these activities are varied. The main classifications used are Fisheries Biologist, Fisheries Biologist Supervisor, Fish Management Supervisor, Fish Management Unit Leader, Fish Management Technician, Fish Hatchery Superintendent, and Fish Hatchery Coordinator. To view detailed information on these positions and find out the minimum qualifications, click on the following link:

Fish Management and Research Career Positions

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Information and Education

People enjoy learning about wildlife. The Division of Wildlife actively participates in a variety of education projects designed to increase the knowledge of all Ohioans who have an interest in wildlife resources.

Information

Wildlife information and education staff and other personnel conduct many education projects statewide. They also work in cooperation with Ohio’s news media—radio, newspaper, and television—to explain fish and wildlife management to the public.

The Division of Wildlife’s magazine, Wild Ohio, has informative articles for everyone interested in Ohio’s wildlife. A weekly TV program also called Wild Ohio can be seen on many PBS stations in Ohio.


Education

Strong emphasis is placed on efforts to educate elementary and secondary students about Ohio’s wildlife. The Division is actively involved in bringing Project WILD into schools around Ohio.  Project WILD is an environmental conservation education project designed to supplement existing curriculums and to create an awareness and appreciation of the wildlife resource.

A comprehensive aquatic resources education project provides angling instruction for beginners, fishing activities at the Ohio State Fair, a wide variety of fishing clinics, and Aquatic Project WILD that emphasizes the value and functions of wetlands and aquatic ecosystems.

Specially trained volunteer instructors also teach hunter and trapper education courses to thousands each year. Hunter and trapper education courses are mandatory for first-time hunters and trappers. The courses are designed to instill a code of ethics and responsibility, as well as provide instruction in special skills and equipment, wildlife management, and regulations. Clinics and classes are also offered for advanced hunters. Information on courses is available at 1-800-282-3557.

The positions needed to fulfill these activities are varied. The main classifications used are Wildlife Communication Specialist, Public Information Officer, Wildlife Education Officer, Audio/Visual Production Specialist, Publications Editor, and Electronic Design Coordinator. To view detailed information on these positions and find out the minimum qualifications, click on the following link:

Information and Education Career Positions

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Wildlife Management and Research

Wildlife Management

Wildlife management consists of projects that affect wildlife populations and wildlife recreational users. These projects usually involve habitat manipulation, management of wildlife populations, land acquisition, research, or the creation of opportunities for people to enjoy wildlife. Healthy wildlife populations depend on good habitat, so habitat maintenance and improvement receive a lot of emphasis. On private lands, efforts are geared toward incentive programs to improve habitat, especially for agricultural and woodland landowners. Habitat manipulation is practiced more directly on the more than 150,000 acres of public land owned by the Division.

Public lands are important for wildlife production and for recreation, making land acquisition a high priority program for the Division. Some of the best hunting, trapping, and wildlife observation opportunities in occur on state wildlife areas. Because more than 90 percent of the state’s original wetlands have been lost to development, wetlands represent an especially critical habitat type, and receive special attention. The Division manages more wetland acres than any other public or private interest in the state.

Management of wildlife populations is also a vital program area. Biologically based seasons are necessary for both the protection and control of some wildlife populations, and these seasons provide the framework for countless hours of wildlife recreation. Many projects are aimed at restoring natural populations, and recent efforts have involved wild turkeys, bald eagles, river otters, and peregrine falcons.
 

Wildlife Research

Wildlife research is part of the foundation for Division programs, and provides the basic information needed for setting seasons, making management decisions, and evaluating the status of wildlife populations.  Research projects also pioneer new ways to tackle problems and improve existing programs. A significant amount of research is carried out in cooperation with Ohio colleges and universities.

The positions needed to fulfill these activities are varied. The main classifications used are Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife Biologist Supervisor, Wildlife Research Technician, Wildlife Area Coordinator, Wildlife Area Technician, Wildlife Area Supervisor, Wildlife Management Consultant, Assistant Wildlife Management Supervisor, and Wildlife Management Supervisor. To view detailed information on these positions and find out the minimum qualifications, click on the following link:

Wildlife Management & Research Career Positions

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Wildlife Law Enforcement (pdf)

Wildlife Law Enforcement Mission

Wildlife and natural resources management requires effective enforcement of laws and regulations.  Law enforcement is a tool designed to protect the wildlife resource, ensure fair and equitable use of the resource, protect state property, and enforce other statues regarding stream litter, pollution, and firearms.  Wildlife law enforcement is a unique area of law enforcement that blends criminal justice and law enforcement duties with wildlife conservation, education, and public service. 

Annually, wildlife officers contact thousands of Ohio sportsmen and women in the field, patrol over 190,000 acres of wildlife lands, issue and inspect thousands of wildlife related permits, conduct criminal investigations, handle numerous violation reports, and make thousands of arrests. They also speak to hundreds of clubs and groups about conservation and wildlife programs, perform fish and wildlife surveys, and provide technical advice and instruction about wildlife management, hunter education, trapping, and fishing. 

The positions needed to fulfill these activities include the wildlife officer, investigator, wildlife officer supervisor, district law enforcement supervisor, and law enforcement program administrators that work at the division headquarters.

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, Division of Wildlife.  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.  But if you are up for the challenge, think about joining the wildlife officer team and a rewarding career with the Division of Wildlife.  To view more detailed information on positions available and find out the minimum qualifications, click on the following link:

Wildlife Law Enforcement Career Positions



Seasonal Employment Opportunities

Duties (Wildlife Management): Will perform a variety of general support duties which will vary from day to day & by location based upon Division of Wildlife assignments on public use facilities (e.g., general maintenance, remove trash, maintain parking lots & access roads, mow & trim grass & shrubs around area buildings, wildlife food plot planting, vegetation control, trapping & banding doves & waterfowl, controlled hunt administration, wetland management & restoration projects, operation of waterfowl & deer check stations, wildlife surveys, assisting with monitoring a rifle range, & preparation of Division display at the Ohio state Fair). Other maintenance & wildlife management duties may be assigned, as necessary.

Duties (Fish Management): May include assisting with fisheries surveys (e.g., electrofishing, trap-netting, gill-netting), youth fishing, (e.g., fishing, fish identification & public relations), performing fishing area & headquarter maintenance (e.g., mowing, litter clean-up, painting, scraping, sanding, sign posting, etc.), general maintenance work, as well as boat & vehicle maintenance, and Creel Clerk duties.

Qualifications (Wildlife Management): Must have a Valid Ohio Driver’s License and vehicle insurance; a degree or pursuing a degree in wildlife management or a closely related Natural Resources field is desired; experience &/or familiarity with the operation of farm machinery, shop & hand tools, mower & trimmer, tractors & chain saw; ability to interact with the public.

Qualifications (Fish Management): Must have a Valid Ohio Driver’s License and vehicle insurance; a degree or pursuing a degree in fisheries biology/management is desired; experience &/or familiarity using various fisheries gear, lawn mowing tractors; hand & power tools; ability to identify a variety of freshwater fish species; ability to interact with the public; must be able to swim.

Seasonal Employment Opportunities

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