Environmental Conservation: Law Enforcement

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)

New York State Environmental Conservation Police Officers at FLCC for career exploration event

Environmental conservation work is vital for the future health of our planet. Learn how to sustainably manage natural resources and protect the region's wildlife population with this hands-on program.

Career Outlook: Environmental Conservation Officer

The Department of Environmental Conservation employs environmental conservation officers to enforce the laws that keep New York State's natural resources safe from harm. Jobs include permanent, full-time positions and part-time work during peak seasons. The starting salary for environmental conservation officers in New York was $53,400 in 2022.

A.A.S. Program Overview

Grow your knowledge of and respect for the natural world with this unique program. Coursework focuses on environmental law, current conservation practices, and foundational concepts in biology and ecology. This degree is the first step toward becoming an environmental conservation officer in New York and prepares you to take the required civil service exam.

Hands-On Learning and Field Experiences

Participate in field work at our two environmental research facilities, Muller Field Station and East Hill Campus. Complete a conservation field camp, and day trips to landfills and water sanitation facilities to monitor environmental compliance.

Throughout your studies, you'll practice using professional research equipment, including:

  • Electro-Fishing Equipment
  • Water Quality Probes
  • GIS Computer Software (ArcGIS)
  • Wildlife Tracking Radio-Telemetry Devices

Learn from Conservation Professionals

Ride along with regional New York State Department of Environmental Conservation staff as they complete their daily assignments. Acquire 40 hours of one-on-one experience observing real-world conservation work, including policing, compliance checks, and other regulatory responsibilities.

Sam Lyon

"I had a 40-hour internship riding along with a NYS Environmental Conservation Officer. We went out and patrolled for 8 hours a day. That was one of the best things for me because it actually showed me what I'm going to be doing and convinced me that I want to do that as a career."

— Sam Lyon '22

A.A.S. Program Outcomes

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this degree program, students will be able to:

  • Interpret the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) for New York State and select federal environmental regulations.
  • Explain foundational principles of natural resource management.
  • Develop fundamental conservation law enforcement skills (e.g., communication, documentation, report preparation, map interpretation).

Career Pathways

This program prepares you for a civil service career as an environmental conservation officer. Related career opportunities are also available with other government agencies, advocacy organizations, and privately owned land, including:

  • Customs Officers
  • Fish and Game Warden
  • Marine Recreational Vehicle Officers
  • State Park Police

To qualify as an environmental conservation officer, you must meet the educational requirements listed below, pass the New York State civil service exam, and complete the Department of Environmental Conservation's 6-month training program.

Option 1: Earn an Associate Degree + Qualifying Experience

Complete your A.A.S. degree in Environmental Conservation: Law Enforcement plus any one of the following qualifying experiences:

  • One year of experience in environmental engineering or technology, water sciences, wildlife sciences, or forestry
  • One year of experience as a police officer with Municipal Police Training Course certification (or equivalent)
  • One year of experience as a certified federal law enforcement officer
  • Two years of active United States military service

Option 2: Earn a Four-Year Degree

Complete a bachelor's or higher-level degree in any subject. If you're interested in this path, check out our transfer-friendly programs in Environmental Science, Fish and Wildlife Technology, and Natural Resources Conservation. These programs also prepare you for environmental careers other than law enforcement — including forest ranger or park ranger positions.

Learn More About NYS ECO Requirements

Seamless Transfer Opportunities

Previous graduates have continued their conservation, environmental law, and criminal justice education at a variety of colleges and universities. Our conservation law program has articulation agreements with the following four-year institutions:

  • Paul Smith's College
  • SUNY Morrisville
  • Unity College

Low-Cost Tuition and Scholarship Opportunities

Earn a quality education at an affordable rate. With our low cost-per-credit and general scholarship opportunities, you can maximize your potential with minimal debt. 80% of students are awarded scholarships or financial aid that help with the cost of college.

As a conservation law student, you may also be eligible for the following program-specific scholarships:

  • New York State Conservation Officers Association
  • Robert L. (Rodge) Case Award
  • FLCC Conservation Faculty Award
  • Francis Finnick Memorial Conservation Award
  • Fraley Family Award

To learn about these scholarships, contact the FLCC Foundation.


Instructors for the conservation law classes are professionals with experience in police academy training, policymaking, and watershed management. You'll learn from experts in criminal justice and conservation. Our faculty have advanced degrees in fisheries, wildlife, forestry, and ecology. Our program is informed by an advisory board that includes NYS environmental conservation officers, state police, campus police, forest rangers, and park police.

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