Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Thursday, September 15, 2016

DEC Announces Environmental Conservation Police Officer and Forest Ranger Exams to be Held November 19

Applications Filing Deadline is October 5

New York State will hold exams for individuals who are interested in becoming an Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) or Forest Ranger, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

"DEC ECOs and Forest Rangers have a strong history of protecting wildlife, natural resources, state lands and the people who use them," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "From search and rescue operations to uncovering environmental crimes, these brave men and women are often first on the front lines of some of the most harrowing events. We encourage anyone interested in joining our ranks of admirable professionals to sign up for the exams today."

The civil service exams will be held on November 19, 2016. There are separate exams and different qualifications for becoming an ECO or Forest Ranger. Potential applicants should closely review qualifications required for each position to determine which exam they are eligible to take. Those who want to apply for both positions, and meet the required qualifications, must submit separate applications and will be required to take both exams.

A full summary of qualifications, salary and application procedures can be found online at the New York State Department of Civil Service exam announcements web pages for Forest Rangers (leaves DEC's website) and Environmental Conservation Police Officers.(leaves DEC's website) Applications are being accepted until October 5, 2016.

Exam scores will be used to rank candidates and create eligible lists to fill openings for ECOs or Forest Rangers. Although the exam is being offered, there is no guarantee that there will be openings; however, the eligibility list from this exam is expected to remain active for up to four years.

In the future, candidates selected from the list would be required to attend 27-week residential program at the DEC Basic Academy. Recruits must pass all elements of the Academy before being assigned to a work location. DEC recently graduated 48 recruits from DEC's 20th Basic School for Uniformed Officers on September 2, 2016.

Environmental Conservation Police Officers

Environmental Conservation Police Officers are police officers who enforce New York's Environmental Conservation Law to protect the state's natural resources and environment. The first ECOs were appointed to serve back in 1880. Job duties of an ECO include investigating environmental complaints, including those pertaining to fish and wildlife, environmental quality, vulnerable communities that have a disproportionate burden of pollution and handling of hazardous waste. ECOs also interact with user groups to promote safe and wise use of New York's abundant natural resources. ECOs work outdoors regardless of weather, often working long or irregular hours and as a police officer, are required to carry a firearm. ECOs often work alone and patrol in remote locations throughout the state on boats, snowmobiles, ATVs, or on foot. Officers may also be assigned to marine patrols along New York's Atlantic shoreline. Additionally, ECOs are assigned to urban centers including all five boroughs of New York City and coastal communities on Long Island.
ECOs are police officers under New York law, which requires that they be a U.S. citizen when appointed, a New York State resident pursuant to the Public Officers Law, licensed to operate a motor vehicle when appointed, and legally eligible to carry firearms. ECO trainees must be at least 20 years old when appointed. The physical and medical condition of potential trainees will be evaluated to ensure the candidate can perform the duties of the position.

Minimum Qualifications to take the ECO exam include:

  • A bachelor's degree or higher, supplemented by at least 18 credit hours of qualifying coursework; or
  • An associate's degree, supplemented by 18 hours of qualifying coursework, AND one of the following:
    • One year of experience in the areas of environmental engineering and environmental technology; freshwater or marine sciences, wildlife sciences, forestry;
    • One year experience as a police officer with appropriate certification; or
    • Two years of active U.S. military service, with an honorable discharge.

Forest Rangers

New York State Forest Rangers have protected the state's public lands, natural resources and residents for more than 130 years. Rangers are police officers under state law and their duties include search and rescue operations; enforcement of state laws, including New York's Environmental Conservation Law; wildfire management, including prevention and suppression; and public outreach and education to adults and children related to safe use and the protection of natural resources.

Forest Rangers are required to maintain headquarters within the geographical limits of their assigned patrol areas.

Since Forest Rangers are police officers under New York law, a Ranger must be a U.S. citizen when appointed, a New York State resident pursuant to the Public Officers law, licensed to operate a motor vehicle when appointed, and legally eligible to carry firearms. Rangers are assigned throughout New York State and must be at least 20 years old when appointed. The physical and medical condition of potential trainees will be evaluated to ensure the candidate can perform the duties of the position.

Minimum qualifications to take the Forest Ranger exam include:

  • A bachelor's degree or higher, supplemented by at least 30 credit hours in environmental science*;
  • An associate's or higher-level degree in forestry, forest technology, forest management, natural resources management, forest recreation, forest engineering, or environmental engineering; or
  • An associate's or higher-level degree including or supplemented by 18 credit hours of qualifying coursework in environmental sciences, AND one of the following
    • Two years of qualifying technical/professional work experience in the natural resources management field; or
    • Two years of active U.S. military service, with an honorable discharge.

* Refer to Civil Service exam announcement 26-198 for definition of environmental sciences.

Additional information on DEC ECOs and Forest Rangers is available online at the New York Conservation Officers Association (leaves DEC's website) website and DEC's Forest Rangers web page.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Jomo Miller
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    518-402-8000
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions