Are you interested conserving natural resources? Do you enjoy outdoor work? If ‘yes’ is your answer to this questions, then you already have part of what it takes to become a fisheries officer. Read on to discover how you can get started in this profession.
What Do Fisheries Officers Do?
The main responsibility of fisheries officers is to conserve fish in both freshwater and marine habitats. To achieve this they:
- Survey fishing grounds to determine the fishing equipment and methods used by fishermen, as well as detect unlawful fishing activities
- Collect and record scientific data from such surveys
- Liaise with government bodies and other parties on matters such as habitat development
- Enforce the Fisheries Act and other relevant federal and state laws
- Interpret these regulations to fishing crews
- Respond to emergency situations, such as oil spills and beaching of wales
- Apprehend fishers who fail to comply with fishing regulations
- Conduct research to identify activities that threaten fish habitats
This is not a typical 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday job. You must be prepared to work long and irregular hours. Sometimes, you may be required to survey fish habitats during the night. You will only spend time in an office environment when compiling reports on your surveys.
The work can be strenuous and demanding, since you can be exposed to harsh weather while working outdoors.
The following table highlight the annual average for fisheries officers:
Average Annual Salary
Can your passion for natural resources conservation alone make you attractive to potential employers? Absolutely not. You need to pursue a post-secondary qualification in a relevant field. Therefore, to enter this profession, you must have a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields:
- Wildlife conservation
- Conservation biology
Because fisheries officers have law enforcement duties, you can also get started with a degree in police science or criminal justice.
As a fisheries officer, you must possess following skills and abilities:
- Manual dexterity
- The ability to adapt to various work conditions
- Teamwork and cooperation
- Results oriented and self-confidences
- Problem-solving skills
- Good communication skills
- Outdoor skills
At this point, you have definitely done enough to get your foot in the door of potential employers. After getting hired, you will undergo additional training to enhance your awareness of fishing laws and the employer’s conservation programs.
A combination of vast work experience and advanced qualifications is all you need to get your foot on the next career level. Some of the credentials you could seek include:
- The American Fisheries Society’s Fisheries Professional Certification
- A master’s degree in conservation
The American Fisheries Society also provides membership opportunities. Members are able to access a range of professional development resources, including training workshops and conferences.
The employers of fisheries officers are:
- Federal environmental agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service
- State and local environmental agencies
- Conservation organizations
As you gain more experience and academic qualifications, you will heighten your chances of becoming a natural resource or wildlife manager.
In general, the job prospects for conservation workers are not promising. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 4 percent employment growth through 2022, expect to face fierce competition for jobs. This should, however, not deter you from pursuing this career. If you can focus your job hunt in the coastal areas, you should eventually get a breakthrough. Good luck!