How to Become a B.C. Conservation Officer
A B.C. Conservation Officer’s job is diverse and demanding. As the front lines of environmental law enforcement in British Columbia, a tremendous amount of responsibility and trust is invested in each member of the Conservation Officer Service (COS).
There are over 69,000 law enforcement officers in Canada, and only 150 of them can be B.C. Conservation Officers.
Generally, the COS considers applications once a year, establishing an eligibility list to fill known and anticipated vacancies up to a 12-month period. The annual intake for entry-level positions occurs early in the New Year, in preparation for the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy (WCLEA).
Before you review our recruiting information, please consider the following informal self-assessment. While not exhaustive, it may help you to evaluate your suitability and identify any possible barriers to applying since you know your strengths, skills and abilities better than anyone else does.
Answer yes or no to each statement:
- I can satisfy the position’s basic requirements listed below
- I am interested in serving my community and I am the type of person who seeks out challenge
- I possess considerable initiative and work well under minimal supervision
- I am able to work with all kinds of people in a variety of situations
- I am just as comfortable working alone as in a team environment.
- In the face of uncertainty, I can make necessary decisions that are both timely and reasonable
- I am open and honest in my communications and conduct
- I take responsibility for my actions, including my mistakes. I give credit where credit is due
- I respect the law in both behaviour and attitude. I have a firm belief in the rights and freedoms of all citizens
- I can keep my emotions under control and restrain negative actions when faced with opposition or provocation
- I am able to defuse tension in stressful situations
- I have the self-confidence to be assertive when the situation demands it
- I am emotionally stable and mature
- I am in good physical health with no medical conditions that would limit my ability to do the work of a conservation officer
- I have demonstrated leadership qualities
- My moral, philosophical or religious beliefs would not prevent me from using an appropriate level of force in order to control a situation
What You Need to Know About Our Hiring Process
New Recruit Base Qualifications (CO18 - Under Implementation):
- Applied degree or technical diploma in a recognized post-secondary program of natural resource law enforcement
- An equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered
Experienced officer qualifications (CO24 - full working level):
In addition to meeting the base qualifications completion of the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy (WCLEA) or equivalent academy training in natural resource law enforcement.
Proof of the following will be requested during the competition process:
- Applicants must be at least 19 years of age
- Possess a valid driver’s license (Class 5 or higher)
- Completion of the Canadian Firearms Safety Course
- Have successfully completed the BC Conservation Outdoor Recreation and Education Course (CORE) or Provincial equivalent
- Completed Occupational First Aid Level 1 or equivalent training.
- Obtain Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certification
- Successful completion of the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (P.A.R.E.) (PDF) to the recruit standard of 4:45 minutes
If a large number of applicants satisfy the position’s minimum requirements the applicants may expect to participate in additional screening assessments such as a written exam or other assignment that demonstrates the applicants’ knowledge skills and abilities related to the position of a Conservation Officer.
Applicants who are invited to interview are given notice to prepare and make travel arrangements. Expenses are not covered unless the applicant is a current employee of the BC Public Service.
At the interview stage applicants must provide proof of the following:
- Valid driver’s license, Class 5 or higher
- Occupational First Aid Level 1 or equivalent
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certification
- Completion of the Canadian Firearms Safety Course
- Completion of CORE Hunter Safety or provincial equivalent
Following reference checks top ranked applicants will be placed on an eligibility list and conditional offers of employment will be made. The number of applicants placed on the list will depend on anticipated vacancies for the coming year.
The COS will finalize the list in order of merit. The number of offers will be limited to the number of spaces allocated to the COS for WCLEA.
Once a conditional offer of employment is accepted, an applicant must qualify through the following assessments:
- Security Screening
- Medical Assessment
- Psychological Assessment
If found suitable following security screening and a medical and psychological evaluation, the applicant will be able to attend WCLEA.
Physical Fitness Test
To ensure that officers possess the minimum physical abilities needed, candidates must successfully complete the PARE prior to a conditional offer of employment. All applicants must pass at the recruit level which is a PARE time of 4:45 min or less.
Applicants who accept a conditional offer of employment must submit to a pre-placement medical exam before their appointment can be confirmed.
The COS medical guidelines set a minimum medical standard with respect to an officer’s job duties. Consideration is given to the safety of the individual, fellow workers, the public and the integrity and security of the organization.
An applicant’s health is tested in the following areas (this list is not exhaustive):
- cerebrovascular, and
Occupational Health Programs (OHP), B.C. Public Service Agency, will advise the COS in writing as to whether an individual is deemed medically fit or unfit for hire according to the above medical guidelines. No other details of the examination are divulged to the agency. However, the employer must be informed of any condition(s) that might pose a safety risk in the workplace should the applicant be hired.
Applicants who accept a conditional offer of employment must submit to a pre-placement psychological evaluation before their appointment can be confirmed. A registered and experienced psychologist will assess the applicant’s suitability, giving specific consideration to the stresses imposed by a law enforcement job (e.g. hostile, armed encounters and the carrying and use of firearms).
The psychologist will recommend acceptance or rejection of the candidate or a period of careful supervision and will specify reasons for the recommendations. The evaluation’s results remain the property of the COS and will not necessarily be disclosed to the applicant.
Security screening assists the COS in screening out individuals whose past behaviour suggests a significant risk of officer misconduct, such as dishonesty, substance abuse, violent behaviour, or disregard for authority.
Administered by the Police Services and Security Programs Branch, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, a thorough background investigation will be completed on applicants who accept a conditional offer of employment. This will include the following:
- Police information systems check (level 4 criminal record check)
- Driving record check (driver’s abstract)
- Verification of educational and employment history
- Financial background check
- Check of the Conservation Officer Online Reporting System (conducted by the COS)
- Check of the Departmental Violations System, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Lifestyle and Integrity Questionnaire
- Security interview, incorporating results from the Lifestyle and Integrity Questionnaire and employing digital voice stress analysis
- Certified criminal record check (fingerprinting)
- Follow-up interview and/or field investigation, as required
While the process may cause a certain degree of anxiety, we are not looking for individuals with a perfect record. Successful candidates are those who embody our key values, including integrity, service, accountability, impartiality and respect. If you are interested in learning more about the security screening process, please contact us.
WCLEA is a joint recruit training initiative of natural resource law enforcement agencies from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, Yukon, and British Columbia.
New Conservation Officer recruits that meet the base qualifications are under-implemented at the CO18 level and will spend ~16 weeks at WCLEA. Currently, the curriculum places heavy emphasis on field skills and legal studies, including classroom and practical instruction in the following areas:
- ATV operations
- Cross cultural awareness
- Emergency vehicle operations
- Law enforcement ethics
- Firearms (rifle, shotgun, pistol)
- Use of force options
- Water safety
- Legal studies
- MED A3/SVOP
- Small and large group prop vessels
- Swift water rescue
- Human wildlife conflicts
Upon successful graduation of WCLEA, recruits move to the CO21 level and will begin a 12 month new officer field training program under the mentorship of an experienced Conservation Officer or “field trainer”, applying and refining the knowledge and skills gained during WCLEA.
Upon successful completion of the new officer field training program, new Conservation Officers will be fully implemented to the CO24 level
There is a range of salaries within the COS:
- CO R18 - salary range at WCLEA
- CO R21 - salary range upon successful graduation of WCLEA and until field training is fully completed
- CO R24 - salary range at fully implemented