California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Fish and Wildlife Officer Career

Frequently Asked Questions about the wildlife officer Hiring Process

  1. Why does the hiring process take so long?
  2. Is there an accelerated testing process available for candidates in the military or who are from out of state?
  3. How long does the hiring process usually take?
  4. If I am already working as a peace officer can I laterally transfer to the CDFW without going through the testing process?
  5. If my eyesight has been surgically corrected will I be eligible to go through the selection process?
  6. What should I do to prepare myself for the examination?
  7. How can I prepare for the Physical Abilities Test (PAT)?
  8. Can I put myself through the Academy?
  9. What is the most common reason people fail the testing process?
  10. Am I disqualified if I have ever been arrested or issued a citation?
  11. Who can I talk to about the hiring process?

1. Why does the hiring process take so long?

State law mandates that the examination process for peace officers include drug screening, physical, psychological, and medical examinations as well as thorough background investigations. A substantial amount of time is required to gather and evaluate the information, to follow up on missing or incomplete data, to conduct the various components of the examination, and to provide time for protests and appeals, etc. An average background investigation takes 3-4 weeks to complete, but many take much longer.

2. Is there an accelerated testing process available for candidates in the military or who are from out of state?

No. The CDFW only tests once each year for Warden Cadet.


3. How long does the hiring process usually take?

If your application is accepted, you will be notified of the written test date typically in December of each year.  In January you will take the written exam. Depending on how well you score on the exam you will be placed in a rank from 1-8.  Starting in March we conduct background investigations on ranks 1-4, which can take several months to complete. 

Should you successfully pass your rigorous background investigation, you will go through a chief’s interview, which is typically in October, and then be given what is known as a conditional job offer.  After receiving your job offer, you must then pass a physical agility test, a swim test, a medical and psychological exam, drug testing and vision screening.

If you pass all of those you will be given an Academy date. The Academy, which runs approximately 8 months, starts in January of each year.

4. If I am already working as a peace officer can I laterally transfer to the CDFW without going through the POST Academy?

Yes. The Department now accepts current Peace Officer applicants. Applicants will still have to attend an 8 week Fish and Wildlife specific Academy.

5. If my eyesight has been surgically corrected will I be eligible to go through the selection process?

Applicants who have undergone eye surgery to meet minimum visual standards may be required to submit medical data, at their own expense, to demonstrate visual stability. For information on the necessary protocol involved, contact the State Medical Officer at CalHR, 801 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 94244-2010, (916) 445-2881. The candidate's medical documentation will be reviewed by the State Medical Officer. Only surgeries considered permanent will be reviewed, and depending on the type of surgery, applicants may be monitored for as long as a year before stability can be determined.

6. What should I do to prepare myself for the examination?

The key to success in the exam is advance preparation. Learn about the job; gather and read all written materials (brochures, job announcement bulletins, books, etc.). Read publications about the CDFW, log on to the CDFW’s web site at www.wildlife.ca.gov. Understand the various components of law enforcement. The first impression of the candidate is through his/her completed Standard State Examination Application (STD 678). These documents should be neatly printed or typed. Educational, vocational, and occupational accomplishments should be listed accurately. Applicants must communicate effectively by speaking and writing clearly and succinctly with confidence.

Specific suggestions include: study the examination announcement and develop a thorough understanding of the job and the skills required; study books that review reading skills and comprehension, English grammar, punctuation, spelling, and composition; enroll in college or adult school course/s to review or improve English, reading comprehension, and writing skills; work on self improvement through a personal plan or with friends/family. To be successful the candidate must possess strong reading and writing skills equivalent to the 12th grade level.

7. How can I prepare for the Physical Abilities Test (PAT)?

Physical Ability Test Preparation. Before starting any regular physical exercise program consult with a medical doctor to make sure you can exercise safely. Remember to start easy and don’t over do it. Advanced preparation for the test is the key. Don’t wait until the month before the test to start getting in shape. The best way to prepare for the PAT is to engage in a physical fitness program that is designed to improve flexibility, overall muscular strength, and cardio-respiratory endurance. Examples include: jogging two miles without stopping at least five days a week; do as many push-ups as possible every other day; do as many abdominal crunches as possible at least five days per week. You may also consult a fitness trainer to design a personal fitness program. The most effective way to avoid injuries, sprains, strains, and soreness is to always stretch before exercising and cool down after exercising. Every exercise session should follow this format: warm-up 5-10 minutes; exercise 20-30 minutes; cool down 5-10 minutes.

8. Can I put myself through the Academy?

No. At this time there will be no self sponsored candidates accepted at the Academy.

9. What is the most common reason people fail the testing process?

There is no single reason. Candidates are automatically disqualified if they withhold information and/or provide false information. Also, you will automatically be disqualified if you have illegally used any "hard" drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, heroin, etc.) within the past 10 years, and you may be disqualified if you have ever used such drugs. And, depending on the circumstances, you may be disqualified if you have abused or illegally used any drugs (marijuana, alcohol, prescriptions, etc.).

10. Am I disqualified if I have ever been arrested or issued a citation?

The only automatic reason for being disqualified based on criminal behavior is if you have been convicted of a felony or convicted of a crime in another state that could have been prosecuted as a felony in California. You will have an opportunity to disclose and explain any criminal activity or behavior. The information will be reviewed and evaluated in light of the circumstances and may or may not disqualify you. The most important thing is to fully disclose all criminal activity or any behavior that may be considered to be a crime.

11. Who can I talk to about the hiring process?

Hiring Captain David Bess can be contaced by email or phone at (916) 651-9982