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For Release: Wednesday, September 4, 2013

DEC Announces Environmental Conservation Police Officer and Forest Ranger Exams to Be Held November 16

Applications Will Be Accepted Until October 2

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 Joe Martens announced today.

The civil service exams will be held on November 16, 2013. 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 examinations.

A full summary of qualifications, salary, and application procedures can be found at: NYS Civil Service Scheduled Exams Page. Applications are being accepted until October 2, 2013.

Exam scores will be used to rank candidates and create eligible lists DEC will use 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 a 26-week residential program at the DEC Basic Academy. Recruits must pass all elements of the Academy before being assigned to a work location. At this time, it has not been determined when the next Academy training will be held.

"I want, as game protectors, men of courage, resolution and hardihood who can handle the rifle, axe and paddle; who can camp out in summer or winter; who can go on snowshoes, if necessary; who can go through the woods by day or by night without regard to trails." NY Governor Teddy Roosevelt 1899

Environmental Conservation Officers

Environmental Conservation 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 environment complaints, including those pertaining to fish and wildlife, environmental quality and handling of hazardous materials. ECOs also interact with user groups to promote safe and wise use of New York's natural resources. An ECO may work long or irregular hours conducting outdoor patrols and 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.

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. To take the exam, an applicant must be 35 years old or younger on the day of the written test (some exceptions pertain to military duty). 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 course qualifying coursework, AND
  • One year of experience in freshwater or marine sciences, wildlife, forestry, environmental engineering or environmental technology; or
  • 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 Forest Rangers have protected the state's public lands, natural resources and residents for more than 125 years. Rangers are police officers under state law and their duties may 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. They are eligible to earn overtime.

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. To take the exam, an applicant must be 35 years old or younger on the day of the written test (some exceptions pertain to military duty). Ranger 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 Forest Ranger exam include:

  • A bachelor's degree or higher, supplemented by at least 30 credit hours in environmental/life sciences; or
  • An associate's degree in forestry, forest technology, forest management, natural resource management, forest recreation, forest engineering, or environmental engineering; or
  • An associate's degree supplemented by 18 credit hours of course qualifying coursework in environmental/life sciences, AND
  • 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.

Additional information on DEC ECOs and Forest Rangers is available at:

New York Conservation Officer Association
DEC Forest Rangers web page.

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