After completing initial basic training at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, newly hired officers must complete the Probationary Conservation Officer Academy and Field Training Program. Officers then hone their skills through ongoing training in defensive tactics, firearms, communication skills, ice and swift water rescue, and law enforcement driving, to name a few topics. Many officers act as instructors for the bureau and other law enforcement agencies.
Conservation officers are usually highly motivated, independent workers. They tend to be career employees; turnover can be relatively low and hiring is competitive. However, for those who have a strong desire to work in natural resources and with the people who enjoy them, it can be a rewarding career.
Applications for full-time positions are selected through an extensive interview and testing process that includes a physical agility test, cognitive test, and psychological exam. They must meet all the requirements to be a state peace officer.
Candidates should have excellent communication skills, be flexible and adaptable, and act in a fair and ethical manner. Individuals selected as conservation officers usually have four-year degrees in fish and wildlife management, biology, criminal justice, or similar fields. Most also participate in outdoor recreation and have prior experience in natural resource fields.