Environmental Conservation Officer
ECOs checking wetland violations
Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) are sworn police officers involved in the enforcement of the Environmental Conservation Law in order to protect the State's natural resources and environment. They investigate complaints in order to detect and document both state and federal Environmental Conservation Law felonies, misdemeanors and violations. Environmental Conservation Officers meet with school groups, service groups, regulated community and hunter's and angler's clubs to promote compliance with environmental conservation law, which includes fish and wildlife law. At times, they are expected to work long and irregular hours on outdoor patrols. ECOs are required to carry a firearm.
1. A bachelor's, or higher level degree including or supplemented by 18 semester credit hours in any combination of courses indicated below as qualifying course work; OR
2. An associate's degree including or supplemented by 18 semester credit hours in any combination of courses indicated below as qualifying course work; AND one of the following:
- one year of experience in the areas of freshwater or marine sciences, wildlife sciences, forestry*, environmental engineering, or environmental technology*; or
- one year of experience as a police officer with Municipal Police Training Course certification (or equivalent course approved by the New York State Municipal Police Training Council), or as a certified federal law enforcement officer. A certified Peace Officer Training Course does not satisfy this requirement; or
- two years of active United States military service with an honorable discharge
Qualifying coursework: natural resource conservation, environmental science, environmental studies or a similar environmental program, natural science, physical science or criminal justice. Substitution: Up to 6 semester credit hours in computer science may be used to meet the 18 semester credit hour requirement.
* Examples of experience that will qualify as Forestry experience are: tree physiology, silviculture, dendrology, mensuration, the planning and supervision of disease and insect control, marketing of timber products, and timber cruising.
* Qualifying experience in Environmental Technology must be at a paraprofessional or higher level in areas such as solid and hazardous waste, remediation, or pollution prevention.
Environmental Conservation Officers are expected to maintain a minimal standard of physical fitness. Besides the physical agility portion of the physical-medical requirements, Environmental Conservation Officers will be expected to demonstrate their physical fitness on a regular basis. Prior to appointment, candidates must pass a physical-medical examination, and have excellent moral character and habits, and pass a physical agility test.
Candidates will also be required to demonstrate an ability to swim during the trainee period. Candidates must possess a valid license to operate a motor vehicle in New York State at the time of appointment. Conviction of a felony, misdemeanor or other violation of law may bar examination and appointment.
Salary & Traineeship:
An ECO is hired as an ECO Trainee 1. All ECO Trainee 1's must complete a 26-week residential basic training academy. This academy emphasizes police skills as well as the technical aspects of environmental law enforcement. They then must perform enforcement work under close and continuous supervision of a Field Training Officer. The ECO Trainee 1, after successfully completing his or her first year, will advance to ECO Trainee 2. Upon Completion of a 2nd year in the training program, the Trainee 2 will advance to ECO.
Currently the hiring rate for ECO Trainee 1 is $53,304. After completing 30 weeks as an ECO Trainee 1, the salary increases to $55,703. After an additional 22 weeks and progression to ECO Trainee 2, the salary increases to $58,170. Upon completion of the 2-year traineeship, the salary is $60,769.
These positions exist in the Department of Environmental Conservation throughout the State. Upon completion of the training academy, ECO Trainees bid on available assigned patrol areas and work out of their residence in the assigned patrol area. Upon appointment and at all times the location of an ECO's residence would have to be acceptable to the Department of Environmental Conservation. New York State residency must be maintained.
ECOs qualify to take the promotional examination for Environmental Conservation Investigator 1, Environmental Conservation Investigator 2 and Supervising ECO. Further promotional opportunities are available through competitive examination and satisfactory experience.The career ladder continues to include: Chief Environmental Conservation Officer; Environmental Conservation Investigator 4, Assistant Director Division of Law Enforcement and Director Division of Law Enforcement.
The position of Environmental Conservation Officer Trainee is filled through the use of eligible lists resulting from a written examination administered by the Department of Civil Service. For additional information on Civil Service Examinations, see the links leaving DEC's website to "Civil Service Exam Announcements," "Civil Service Exam Notification," and Civil Service FAQs" on the right side of this page.
FAQ's on Environmental Conservation Officer Examination and Hiring Process:
Q. When is the next examination for ECO Trainee 1?
A. The Environmental Conservation Officer Trainee written test was last held on November 16, 2013.
For future examination announcements: sign up at the "Civil Service Exam Notification" on the right side of this page.
Q. How do I apply for the exam?
A. The exam is administered by the NYS Department of Civil Service - not our Department. When the exam announcement is actually published, it will have complete instructions for filing for the test and paying the fee.
Q. What are the qualifications required to take the test?
A. You must meet the qualifications that are stated on the exam announcement, in order to be admitted to the test. The minimum qualifications are reviewed prior to each announcement of the examination. The "Job Qualifications" listed above are from the last examination announcement.
Q. Is there an age requirement?
A. Environmental Conservation Officer 1 Trainees are police officers under state law. At appointment you must be a resident of New York State and at least 20 years old. You can be no more than 35 years of age on the day of the written test. However, time spent on military duty or on terminal leave, not exceeding a total of six years, shall be subtracted from your age if you have passed your 35th birthday.
Q. I have a tattoo. Will that affect my chances of being hired?
A. Presence of a visible tattoo may bar appointment. Tattoos must comply with our Division of Law Enforcement's (DLE) policy which states that they cannot be visible while a member is in uniform. The uniform consists of a short sleeve shirt open at the front of the neck and in warmer weather, shorts. For additional information, contact the DLE office at 518-402-8829.
Q. When will the next Academy for new ECO trainees begin?
A. The next Academy will be scheduled based on Department needs.
Q. What is the Academy?
A. All newly hired ECO Trainees begin their employment with a 26-week residential training program, currently held in Pulaski, NY. Recruits must pass all elements of the Academy before they are assigned to a work location. Failure to meet established minimum standards will result in termination from the position and the Academy.
Q. How many people do you hire for an Academy?
A. The number is dependent upon several factors, including attrition within the Division of Law Enforcement and available money within the Department's budget. Generally speaking, we hold classes for 15 to 30 ECOs.
Q. How often do you start a new training Academy?
A. This answer is related to the above question, but it is possible that a new academy could be held anywhere from one to three years.
Q. When I am hired, will I know where I will be assigned to work after the Academy?
A. Unfortunately, no. Assignments are made at the end of the 6-month Academy training. But you can generally assume that your initial assignment will be working downstate - Long Island, New York City or the counties just north of NYC.
Q. How do I obtain an assignment in a different geographic area of NYS?
A. After completing a two-year probation period, the ECO's union contract allows them to bid on a different job location, based upon their seniority in the job title.
Q. Once I take the ECO exam and am on the civil service list, what happens next?
A. Usually, about 6 - 8 months before an Academy is scheduled to start, several hundred candidates on the ECO list will receive a canvass letter with instructions to appear for the physical ability testing. If you pass the ability tests, you will then be required to complete an extensive background questionnaire, which is the basis for our Department's thorough investigation into your education and employment history. Any prior arrests or convictions will be investigated. After the background investigation is completed, you may be scheduled for an interview with a panel of command staff. If you successfully complete all of these steps, the Department may make you a conditional offer of employment and refer you to the Department of Civil Service for a medical examination. Candidates who pass all of these screenings and have reachable scores on the ECO list, will be given a tentative start date to report to the Academy. Typically you will be given at least two weeks notice of the start of the Academy, however, due to last minute declinations for appointment to the position, some candidates maybe contacted to start the Academy with very limited notice.
Q. Where can I get information on the physical and medical standards for ECO Trainee?
A. Information on the physical and medical requirements as well as other qualifying information is contained on the last examination announcement in the archives of the Department of Civil Service. See the offsite link for "Archived ECO Announcement" on the right side of this page. Caution! All qualifying information is subject to future change.