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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Law Enforcement > Jobs > Becoming a Conservation Officer Becoming a Conservation Officer

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Stay in touch

Want to know more about what it takes to become a great Indiana Conservation Officer candidate? Sign up here and we will contact you when you there is a recruiting event in your area. You'll get the chance to meet a conservation officer and ask questions. If you live outside of Indiana, select a county that you are willing to travel to for an event.

Take the pre-screening test

Worthy candidates to become Indiana Conservation Officers must be mature, responsible, tactful individuals dedicated to a career in natural resources law enforcement. They must be able to work with minimum supervision, in all kinds of weather.

See if you meet the minimum prerequisites by taking the pre-screening test.

Those who successfully complete the pre-screening test will receive an email from when it is time to sign up for further testing. Enter this address in your contact list but be sure to check your junk/spam email folder in case it gets caught there. Note that you must pass a detailed background check and a polygraph test.

Ideally, preparation to become an Indiana Conservation Officer should start at age 16-18. Eligible applicants must be at least age 21 at time of graduation from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. ILEA graduation is expected to be the fall. There is no maximum age restriction. Those who are hired will be given opportunity to compete for assignment to vacant counties within Indiana based on the current needs of the Law Enforcement Division.

Please tell us more about your interest in becoming an Indiana Conservation Officer by taking this survey.

Be a good candidate for ICO school

1. Demonstrate leadership through community services, for example:

2. Establish a positive community reputation

  • Avoid criminal activity
  • Avoid drug and alcohol abuse

3. Getting their education

  • Get good grades in high school, be involved in activities, build positive teacher and staff relationships, and graduate
  • Be well-read and a good writer and public speaker
  • Earn an Associate’s degree, complete 60 credit hours toward a Bachelor’s degree, or complete four years of consecutive active military service with an honorable discharge 

4. Establish a positive work history

  • Demonstrate commitment
  • Build positive relationships
  • Display willingness to work
  • Be punctual
  • Adopt a line of work that shows interest in outdoors/law enforcement

5. Demonstrate integrity, sound judgment, honesty and trustworthiness

  • Get in shape. A quarter of registered candidates withdraw because they can’t pass the training. 
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices (for example, refrain from pornography and imprudent social networking)
  • Have positive social relationships
  • Engage in positive recreational pursuits

6. Demonstrate maturity

  • Maintain bills, payments and daily functions
  • Display confidence and independent decision making

7. Develop an understanding of the duties of an Indiana Conservation Officer

  • Demonstrate an appreciation and involvement in outdoor activities
  • Accept the complexity and diversity of duties such as arresting violent offenders, working at accident scenes, recovering dead bodies and providing first aid
  • Stay up to date with current issues by visiting this website and the DNR Law Enforcement’s Facebook page
  • Get involved with Karl Kelley Youth Camp, the Indiana Hunter Education Association and other similar camps and groups.

8. Demonstrate commitment to remain an Indiana Conservation Officer until retirement.

About the process

Important dates for the hiring process

  • Must be age 21 before the graduation date of Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (undetermined).
  • Must have college credits by the beginning of core values training (undetermined).

What are the age requirements to be considered for a position?

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age at time of appointment (completion of the hiring process). There are no maximum age restrictions.

How long does the hiring process take?

The hiring process will take around 7 months to complete.

How do I obtain an application to apply?

You must complete the online prerequisite questionnaire found on this webpage to register for the hiring process. Once you have registered the DNR Law Enforcement Division will contact you with information about the next testing process.

What is the Conservation Officer Selection Test and what does it consist of?

This written test is similar to the POST exam. The examination tests for basic reading comprehension, mathematics (nothing greater than division), spelling and grammar skills. It is based on a high school level education.

What are some factors that can hinder me; or cause me to be disqualified?

Some include, but are not limited to: conviction of a felony or commission of a felony; adverse credit; recent drug usage, irresponsible driving history, poor work history, etc…

Where will I live after graduating?

You will have the opportunity to compete for an assignment to specific vacant counties as determined by the current needs of the Law Enforcement Division.

As of Dec. 2, 2016, vacancies include these counties (subject to change):

  1. Elkhart County
  2. St. Joseph County
  3. DeKalb County
  4. Huntington County
  5. Benton County
  6. Henry County
  7. Howard County
  8. Tipton County
  9. Owen County
  10. Parke County
  11. Putnam County
  12. Bartholomew County
  13. Posey County
  14. Perry County
  15. Dearborn County
  16. Switzerland County
  17. Newton County
  18. Starke County

Compensation and Benefits

Trainee annual salary is $37,590 plus benefits. Upon successful completion of training and status as a Probationary Officer, salary increases to $39,213.18. After that, salary increases each year according to the current 20-year matrix schedule. One vacation day is earned each month. One sick day is earned every other month. One personal day is earned every fourth month. Leave is accrued on the employee’s accrual date. Bonus sick days are accrued when the employee accrues a personal day.

Bonus Vacation Leave

After five years of employment an officer earns three days of vacation; after 10 years of employment, an officer earns earn eight days; and after 20 years of employment, an officer earns 13 days.

Paid Holidays

Fourteen annual paid holidays.

Life Insurance

Basic Life, supplemental Life, and dependent Life are available at a low cost.

Health Insurance

Conservation and Excise police officers have a combined self-insured health plan that includes medical, dental, and vision coverage for officers and their dependents. The plan may continue upon retirement as long as eligibility requirements are met.

TaxSaver for Health Insurance

Employee health insurance premium is deducted from gross pay before taxes. This allows taxes to be calculated on lower pay, resulting in more take-home pay. This is a permanent tax reduction for as long as participation is maintained.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Opportunity to set aside pre-tax dollars from each paycheck for reimbursement of qualified medical and/or dependent care expenses.


Conservation Officers, Excise Police Officers and Gaming Agents have a combined pension plan. Mandatory retirement age is 65. Early retirement options are available for those who have reached age 45 and have accrued at least 15 years of creditable service (reduced benefit); reached age 55 and the sum of age and years of service equals 85 (unreduced benefit); and age 50 and have accrued at least 25 years of service (unreduced benefit). 

Separation of Employment

Employees who leave in good standing with the state are eligible to be paid up to 30 vacation days on their last payroll check.