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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

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

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Take the pre-screening test

You must be able to agree to the minimum prerequisites in the questionnaire below to begin the hiring process.  In addition you must be a mature, responsible individual with a high degree of tact dedicated to a natural resource law enforcement career. You must be able to work with minimum supervision and be willing to work in all kinds of inclement weather conditions. The test is open for future hiring starting with the 2015 recruit school. This test will close November 30, 2014.

If you successfully completed the above process, you will be contacted with further instructions when it is time to sign up for further testing. Make sure to check your junk/spam mail folder for messages from

We want to know more about your interest in becoming a conservation officer. Please fill out the quick survey below.

Be a good candidate for ICO school

Want to be a good candidate for ICO school? We recommend you start early when you are 16-18 years old. Here's some advice to get you a leg up on the competition. A detailed background investigation will be completed during your hiring process. A good candidate:

1. Is a leader.

We are looking for a person that is committed to public service through community activities. Some ideas:

2. Stays out of trouble.

Establish a positive community reputation. Take ownership for shortcomings. A polygraph test will be administered.

  • Avoid criminal activity (caught or not).
  • Avoid substance (drugs, alcohol) abuse.

3. Gets educated.

“It isn’t the course of study that is important, it is the desire to challenge yourself and do the work necessary to be successful,” - Lt. Kent Hutchins

  • In high school, get good grades, be involved in activities, and build positive teacher and staff interactions.
  • Study hard in college and earn an Associate’s degree or 60 credit hours toward a Bachelor’s degree or four years of consecutive active military service with a honorable discharge. 
  • Become well read and articulate in writing and public speaking.

4. Has a positive work history

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

5. Handles personal investments

You must be considered a person of Integrity, sound judgment, honesty and trustworthiness

  • Keep physically fit through strength and cardio training. A quarter of the pre-registered candidates admit they self-eliminated because they could not pass the training. Start getting in shape now. Suggested training regimen.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices (refrain from pornography, imprudent social networking, etc.)
  • Have positive relationships and friend associations.
  • Cultivate positive recreational pursuits.

6. Has maturity

  • Can handle and maintaining of bills, payments and daily functions.
  • Displays confidence and independent decision making.

7. Understands and accepts the duties of an ICO

8. Has career goals

  • Demonstrates a commitment to remain as an Indiana Conservation Officer until retirement.
  • Displays an understanding of the Department of Natural Resources, the State of Indiana and is committed to serve each until retirement age.

About the process

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 very similar to the POST exam. The examination test 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 be assigned to a county within Indiana depending on current vacancies and manpower needs.

Conservation Officer compensation

Trainee annual salary is $36,852.40 plus benefits. Upon successful completion of training, your salary is increased to $38,443.60 as a Probationary Officer. After one year as a Probationary Officer, your salary increases to $40,099.80. Thereafter, your salary increases each year according to the current 20 year matrix schedule. Annual Leave: One vacation day is earned each month; one sick day is earned every other month; and 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 employee earns three days;  after ten years of employment you earn eight days; and after twenty years of employment you earn thirteen days.

Paid Holidays

Fourteen paid holidays annually.

Life Insurance

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

Health Insurance

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

TaxSaver for Health Insurance

Allows employee health insurance premium to be deducted from the gross pay before taxes. Taxes are 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 pay check for reimbursement of qualified medical and/or dependent care expenses.


Conservation Officer’s, Excise Police Officer’s and Gaming Agents have a combined pension plan.  Mandatory retirement age is 65. Early retirement options are available:  age 45 and have accrued at least 15 years of creditable service (reduced benefit); age 55 and age plus years of service equal 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 thirty (30) vacation days on their last payroll check.