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The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforces hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife conservation laws through the use of 200 game wardens, who are called agents. These agents are law enforcement officials with the power to make arrests and issue citations throughout the state. Their salaries depend on their rank.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, have no felony indictments, or misdemeanor convictions of domestic violence. They can have one of three options for minimum qualifications.
1) They can have at least two years of full-time experience as a peace officer with level 1 certification in Peace Officer Standards and Training. Instead of two years of experience they can have a minimum of 60 semester hours from an accredited college. Or they can also have any combination of experience and education, where 30 semester hours equals one year of experience.
2) They can complete an associate's degree, or have a two-year program diploma in business administration, business management, corrections, law enforcement, criminal justice or conservation.
3) They can have four years of active military duty from any of the Armed Forces.
Successful applicants become cadets at the Cadet Training Academy, where they receive such training as firearms, physical fitness, defensive tactics, enforcement of state and federal wildlife laws, water survival, ATV operator certification, land and water navigation, and hunter education. Cadets receive pay from the first day of training. Salaries run from $12.38 to $27.84 per hour, or from $25,752 to $57,912 per year as of September 2011.
After graduating from the academy, cadets undergo a field officer training program at their assigned parish. After successfully completing this program, they become full LDWF enforcement agents or game wardens. Salaries for agents range from $13.25 to $29.79 per hour, or $27,564 to $61,968 per year. After the appropriate number of years of experience, and with enough merit, agents can receive promotions to positions with more responsibility and pay. For example, sergeants require at least four years of experience and receive $16.23 to $36.50 per hour, or $33,756 to $75,924 per year. Captains require six years of experience and get $21.28 to $47.85 per hour, or $44,268 to $99,528 per year. The highest rank of colonel needs 10 years of experience and is paid $29.84 to $67.10 per hour, or $62,064 to $139,572 per year.
Game wardens receive several benefits as part of their total compensation. Flexible working hours can include alternative schedules and telecommuting. Agents can choose from several health insurance programs, ranging from an HMO to the state’s group insurance. They receive at least 10 paid holidays, as well as paid sick and annual leave that can accumulate from year to year. A retirement program provides a pension that can be supplemented by a Deferred Compensation Plan.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.