Frequently asked questions

Find answers to your questions about becoming a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police Officer here. If you still have questions, contact our Recruitment and Hiring Division at

Am I an entry-level or lateral applicant?

An entry-level applicant is someone who has not previously worked as a general authority police officer. 

lateral applicant is a candidate who is currently a certified general authority peace officer in good standing, and has worked as a full-time law enforcement officer for at least three years (from date of commissioning). Normally, work as a correctional officer, military police, or park ranger will require an entry level application. 

If you are unsure whether you qualify as a lateral applicant, please contact our Recruitment and Hiring Division at

What are the minimum requirements to become a WDFW Police officer?

You can find the minimum eligibility requirements for both entry-level and lateral applicants at our minimum qualifications and disqualifiers page.

How do I know whether something I did in my past might disqualify me?

Certain past behaviors and circumstances may disqualify you as a candidate. For a full list of automatic and potential disqualifiers, go to our minimum qualifications and disqualifiers page.

Potential disqualifiers are considered in the context of all other information reviewed during the hiring process. Although you are welcome to contact us to discuss potential disqualifiers, we cannot tell with absolute certainty whether certain past behaviors may disqualify you until all relevant information is available to us throughout the screening process.

Is there an age limit for candidates?

We have a minimum age requirement (21), at the time of employment, but we do not have a maximum age limit.

How do I apply to become a WDFW Police officer?

Apply through Public Safety Testing, note that the hiring processes for entry-level and lateral applicants are slightly different.

I'm not a Washington resident. Can I still apply?

Yes! We hire many out-of-state candidates. Out of state candidates should be prepared to travel to Washington during selected portions of the screening process.

Can I apply if I have a tattoo(s)?

Yes, with some limitations. Candidates with any tattoos that are deemed offensive may be disqualified.

When should I apply?

After you meet the minimum requirements for the position. Please contact WDFW Police at with specific questions.

Applicants who are currently in the military and meet our minimum requirements should begin the application process at least six months before their separation date, depending on the applicant's availability to travel for scheduled interviews and exams.

How long does the hiring process take?

This depends on the timing of scheduled interview panels, the availability of the applicant and various contracted examiners, and the academy schedule. Generally, the hiring process takes three to six months to complete.

What happens if I fail a portion of the testing process?

If you fail the initial exams through Public Safety Testing, your name will not be forwarded to us for consideration. You will have to work directly with Public Safety Testing to determine when you'll be eligible to retest.

If you fail any other portion of the hiring process but are not disqualified, you may be eligible to participate in another interview panel after six months, depending if your Public Safety Testing score is still valid (scores expire after one year).

If you are permanently disqualified at any point during our hiring process, you cannot reapply.

I have a top-secret clearance through the military. Do I still need a background investigation?

Yes. We are required by law (RCW 43.101.095) to complete a background investigation, polygraph, and psychological assessment on every candidate, regardless of prior clearance granted by another entity.

Do I get to pick my duty station?

No. Candidates must be willing to accept a position anywhere in the state. The list of available duty stations changes frequently. The stations that are vacant today may not be vacant by the time an applicant completes the hiring process.

When will I know where I'll be stationed?

An entry-level recruit will be assigned a duty station before he or she enters the Basic Law Enforcement Academy to allow ample time to establish residence (if a move is required) before initial training is complete.

A lateral recruit will be assigned a duty station at the completion of all phases of testing.

Officers are not required to move from their assigned duty station. 

Will I have to go through a Basic Law Enforcement Academy?

All entry-level WDFW Police officers are required to complete the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) at the Criminal Justice Training Center, along with all other law enforcement officers in the State of Washington.

Lateral WDFW Police officers who are certified peace officers in another state will have to complete the BLEA Equivalency Academy.

Lateral WDFW Police officers who are certified peace officers in the State of Washington will not have to complete BLEA or the BLEA Equivalency.

How long does the Basic Law Enforcement Academy take?

Upon hire, all new recruits will be paid as a Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Recruit as they attend the 720-hour (18-week) Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) in Burien or Spokane, WA. WDFW covers all equipment, uniforms, meals, lodging, and academy costs.

What is the BLEA Equivalency Academy?

The BLEA Equivalency Academy requires 80+ hours of training, including written exams, practical exercises, and orientation, over a two-week period at the Criminal Justice Training Center in Burien.

Will I be paid while attending the Basic Law Enforcement Academy or Equivalency Academy?

Yes. Recruits and Laterals are hired prior to entering the Academy, and are therefore paid employees while completing initial training.

Do you offer ride-alongs with WDFW officers?

Ride-along opportunities may be limited depending on location. Candidates selected for an interview, or who successfully complete an interview, may be accommodated. To request a ride-along, you'll need to contact the WDFW Police dispatch center at 360-902-2936 and choose option 1 to speak with a communications officer. All requestors will have to pass a basic background check before riding with one of our officers, in addition to complying with the Governor’s vaccine mandate.

For candidates wanting to ride-along in preparation for an interview panel interview, request the ride-along upon receiving the interview invitation. If unsuccessful in an attempt to schedule a ride-along, contact to be connected with an Officer for a phone consult.

Still have questions? Contact us at