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Becoming a Waterways Conservation Officer

WCO boatingEstablished in 1866, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) continues to be a national leader in conservation. Waterways Conservation Officers are members of one of the premier conservation law enforcement organizations.

Waterways Conservation Officers are police officers certified by the PA State Police Municipal Police Officers Training Standards. They are employed by the PFBC and specially trained in all aspects of fisheries conservation and watercraft safety. Waterways Conservation Officers primarily enforce fishing, boating and environmental laws and regulations. Patrols are primarily accomplished on foot and in vehicles and boats. Waterways Conservation Officers are also certified boating safety instructors.

The PFBC is accepting applications for Waterways Conservation Officer Trainees. Below find information about the WCO training program. Application information can be found on the Civil Service Employment website,

Requirements and Qualifications

WCO with a kid and his catchEach applicant must:

    • Meet the Pennsylvania residency requirement.
    • Minimum Experience and Training Requirements – Graduation from high school or equivalent certification; OR an equivalent combination of experience and training.
    • Possession of a valid motor vehicle operator’s license as issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
    • Be at least 21 years of age by the date of hire.
    • Must pass the test to meet the Minimum Experience and Training Requirements.
    • Meet the minimum physical and reading ability standards established by the Training Municipal Police Officers’ Education Act for entrance into the Act 120 Training Program.
    • Be able to perform the essential job functions.

You will be required to pass a drug test. Prior to appointment, background, employment history, credit history, driving history, criminal history and character investigations will be conducted; any offer of employment is conditional upon passing the required medical, psychological, vision, hearing, physical strength and agility, and normal color vision standards. In addition, applicants must be able to swim continuously for 10 minutes or 250 yards.

You will be required to wear a uniform and carry a firearm while on duty.

Waterways Conservation Officer Training Program

WCO conductiong a boardingWaterways Conservation Officer trainees must successfully complete an extensive one-year training program. It includes about 20 weeks of training in law enforcement principles and practices required by the Municipal Police Training Act (Act 120), conducted by a contracted certified training institution.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission conducts an additional 32 weeks of training at its H.R. Stackhouse School of Fisheries Conservation and Watercraft Safety in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. This curriculum includes:

    • Approximately 20 weeks of classroom training in fish and boat laws and regulations, watercraft safety, land and water management, fish propagation, fisheries biology and conservation. It also includes weapons use, physical training and public relations.
    • Approximately seven weeks of field training in various parts of the state under the direction of experienced Waterways Conservation Officers who serve a Field Training Officers.
    • Approximately five weeks of evaluated on-the-job- training while assigned to a specific law enforcement regional office. 

Commonwealth Employee Benefits

    • WCO with a turtleMedical/Hospitalization Insurance
    • Dental Insurance
    • Paid Prescription Care & Hearing Aid
    • Vision Care
    • Life Insurance
    • Mandatory Membership in the State Employees Retirement System
    • Paid time off, including sick leave
    • Paid State Holidays
    • Workers Compensation

Additional Agency Benefits

    • WCO boating with bridge in backgroundIssued Uniforms/Footwear
    • Uniform allowance
    • Home Office allowance
    • Meal allowance
    • Assigned vehicle and equipment


21st WCO Class