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CPO Career Opportunities






This page provides information for individuals interested in becoming Conservation Police Officer Trainees.
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Hiring Process
  • Training Program
  • Employment Facts (duties, salary, benefits, and miscellaneous Information)

Questions about employment opportunities, hiring process, training programs and job duties should be directed to:
IDNR Office of Law Enforcement
 Enforcement Training
 Lieutenant Curt Lewis
 One Natural Resources Way
 Springfield, IL 62702
 217-785-8407 or email
In accordance with the IL Supreme Court Decision issued April 24, 1997, the Dept. of Natural Resources ensures compliance with all hiring procedures regarding Veteran's Preference. In accordance with an Executive Order issued by the Governor, preference for employment shall be extended to citizens of the State of Illinois when the qualifications of residents and non-residents applying for state positions are substantially equal.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources does not discriminate based upon race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion or disability in its programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against, contact the IDNR EEO Office at One Natural Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271 or by phone @ 217-782-2662.

Eligibility Requirements
Pursuant to the Department of Natural Resources (Conservation) Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois (20 ILCS 805/805-535) as amended on August 13, 2012 applicants for the position of Conservation Police Officer Trainee must meet the following minimum professional standards:

At the time of hire, the person must hold: 

      •  a 2-year Associate's Degree and 3 consecutive years of experience as a police officer with the same law enforcement agency;
      • or a 4-year Bachelor's Degree
The above collegiate educational requirements are considered waived if one of the following conditions have been met:

  • have been honorably discharged and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal by the United States Armed Forces;
  • or are active members of the Illinois National Guard or a reservist component of the Unites States Armed Forces and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal as a result of honorable service during deployment on active duty
The person must successfully obtain certification as a police officer under the standards in effect at that time and must also successfully complete the Conservation Police Academy training program, consisting of not less than 400 hours of training, within one year of hire. The Department of Natural Resources has adopted an administrative rule listing those disciplines that qualify as directly related areas of study. Administrative Rule 2050.30.

Hiring Process
Employment Application
A State of Illinois CMS Employment Application (CMS 100) must be completed for the position of "Conservation Police Officer Trainee". Application MUST BE MAILED to the Department of Central Management Services, Examining and Counseling, Room 500, Stratton Office Building, 401 South Spring Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706.
This application will remain on file for a period of one year, and each applicant will be notified by CMS in advance of the next examination date (should one be scheduled within the time frame that said application is valid). Should the examination not be given within a one year time period it is the individual's responsibility to submit a new application to CMS. The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) administers an examination for the position of CPO Trainee. CPO Test Information Guide   This examination tests the following: observation and memory; public relations; writing skills; and reading comprehension. CMS schedules the actual testing dates, locations, and times, upon request of this department. The examination is usually scheduled at all five of the CMS testing centers (Chicago, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Marion). The names of those individuals who have successfully passed the written examination will be placed on an eligibility list which remains in effect for a period of one year from date of test.

1. Peace Officer Wellness Evaluation Report ("POWER" Test)

Applicants selected from the eligibility list are invited to Springfield, Illinois, to participate in a POWER test. This test is designed to assess aerobic capacity (1.5-mile run), strength (bench press), muscular endurance (one-minute sit-ups), and flexibility (sit & reach test). Applicants must pass all four tests to continue in the hiring process. During the selection process, applicants will be asked to sign an Agreement for Reimbursement in which the applicant agrees to reimburse the Department of Natural Resources for some expenses unless the applicant remains in employment as a CPO Trainee/CPO for at least 36 months.
2. Swim Test
  • Successful candidates from the Power Test will be invited to participate in a swim test. Applicants must complete a swimming competency test, without the use of swimming aids, administered by the Office of Law Enforcement's Training Section
      • swim 300 yards continuously without stopping or touching the bottom using any approved stroke or combination of strokes established by the American Red Cross;
      • continuously tread water for 10 minutes without touching the bottom or sides of the pool;
      •  and retrieve an object of contrasting color weighing 5 pounds from a minimum 10 foot depth and deliver the weight to the side of the pool.
3. Oral Interview
An oral interview is scheduled for those who pass the Swim test. The interview will help to assess communication skills, knowledge and abilities, and to ascertain the applicant's qualifications for the job.
4. Background Investigation
Background investigations, which are designed to assist in measuring the applicants' suitability for law enforcement and employment as a CPO Trainee, are conducted.
5. Medical Psychology Assessment and Police Hazardous Duty Physical Examination
Taking into consideration the oral interview and the background investigation data, the Director of the Office of Law Enforcement offers the position of Conservation Police Officer Trainee to those candidates he considers to be best suited for the job. This is contingent, however, upon successful completion of a psychological assessment conducted by a police psychologist and medical exam conducted by a physician. Once the candidate has officially been offered the job, he/she is scheduled for a psychological assessment to determine the applicant's emotional stability and suitability for employment as a peace officer (via psychological tests and interviews) and a doctor's examination to make certain that his/her physical condition is adequate to complete the strenuous Academy training and to perform essential job-related tasks.
Additional Information About the Hiring Process
  • Each phase of the hiring process takes place on prescheduled dates at prescheduled locations. Due to the logistics of establishing this process and budgetary constraints, individual accommodation requests for any of the process phases will not be granted.
  • Transportation to and from the written examination, fitness assessment test, oral interview, psychological assessment, and the medical examination is the responsibility of each applicant.
  • Once hired, the new employee is officially titled a CPO Trainee (CPOT) for a minimum of one full year. The new officer's training is very intense.

Training New Officers
 The newly hired CPOT's must attend a total of 26 weeks in two separate Academy training programs in Springfield.
  • The first is a 12 week program mandated by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board entitled the "480-Hour Basic Law Enforcement Course". The curriculum prepares the recruit to function as a peace officer and focuses upon human behavior, pertinent Illinois' statutes, patrol techniques and investigations, police proficiency skills, and traffic enforcement.
  • The second program is a 14 week basic Conservation Police Officer Trainee Course that we administer ourselves to prepare the recruit peace officer to function as a Conservation Police Officer (CPO) in Illinois. The 560-hour curriculum focuses primarily upon Conservation-related topics such as: wildlife enforcement; sport and commercial fisheries enforcement; watercraft safety equipment, registration, operation, and accident investigation; snowmobile laws; operation of watercraft and snowmobile under the influence laws; IDNR Administrative Rules & Regulations, licenses and permits; state park and site regulations; endangered species protection; timber buyers and forest products transportation acts; applicable U.S. Fish & Wildlife laws; commercial establishments; officer survival; and enforcement techniques, procedures, and proficiency skills.

Upon completion of the two Academic Programs, CPOT's are assigned to rotating field locations within the state and receive five months of "on-the-job" training by working with veteran officers (called the Field Training Officer's Program or FTO Program).
 At the beginning, the CPOT functions as the "observer" with the FTO performing the enforcement duties. As the weeks pass, the roles reverse with CPOT taking over more and more of the enforcement duties as the FTO observes his/her progress. The FTO provides daily guidance to assure specific training tasks are completed, and formally records and evaluates the CPOT's job performance each day.
 The CPOT is in a trainee status for a minimum of 12 months, followed by four more months on probation before being certified as full-fledged CPO.

Employment Facts
Enforcement Duties
Today, although CPOs have full police authority in the enforcement of all Illinois Compiled Statutes, their enforcement mission is to focus upon those laws and activities associated with natural resource protection and recreational safety. Examples of the duties include:
  • enforcing criminal laws, vehicle laws, drug laws, etc. in the State Parks.
  • patrolling on Illinois lakes and rivers to check boating safety equipment and watercraft registration
  • enforcing the fish and wildlife laws (checking hunters, trappers, sport and commercial fishermen for licenses, fish & game size/possession limits, season dates and hours, etc.)
  • enforcing timber buyers and forest products transportation laws; endangered species laws; snowmobile registration and operation laws; Federal fish & wildlife laws; commercial establishments (e.g fur buyers, taxidermists, fish markets) and Departmental (DNR) Administrative Rules & Regulations.
Non-Enforcement Duties
Not all of the duties involve enforcement. A CPO's workload involves non-enforcement activities, such as:

  • speaking at sport or hunt clubs, civic organizations, school classes, etc.
  • staffing information booths at major sports, travel or boating expositions, or during "Law Enforcement Career Days" at specific colleges/universities/high schools in Illinois
  • assisting with hunting, boating, and snowmobiling safety education programs
  • assisting other law enforcement agencies, or to help in certain emergency/rescue situations
  • providing instruction to other police agencies in certain "Conservation type" laws or related enforcement procedures
  • working with college students who earn credit hours in an internship program, by working with veteran Conservation Police Officers to learn about the duties and responsibilities
  • attending various in-service type training programs such as: legal and legislative updates, first aid/CPR refreshers, and officer survival training (self defense and use of firearms); and specialized schools (such as forensics, commercial establishments, sonar use, waterfowl enforcement, interview & interrogation schools, DUI and OUI enforcement [operating watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs], accident investigation (boating/hunting), etc.
Salary and Benefits
Salary & Benefits: Paid twice each month from the first day at the Academy with annual increases in monthly salary; paid vacation days, sick days, personal days, and holidays; overtime compensation; uniforms, equipment, and vehicle furnished; life and hospitalization insurance provided. Currently our CPO starting salary is $3663/month; after a one year CPO certification the salary increases to $4567/month.
Pension Plan: State of Illinois Tier 2 Retirement Plan
  • Employees can retire at age 62 with reduced benefits for each month prior to age 67
  • Employees can retire at age 67 with 34 years of service with maximum benefit of 75% of pay


Additional Information
Work Schedule:
Officers work the hours of highest activity, which varies from season to season, as assigned by their supervisors. CPOs are assigned to a progressive day-off schedule (e.g. Week #1, Thursday and Friday off; Week #2, Friday-Sunday off; Week #3, Saturday-Monday off; Week #4, Monday and Tuesday off; Week #5, Tuesday and Wednesday off, etc.).
Field Placement & Transfers:
Must be willing to relocate anywhere in the state following completion of the Academy and FTO Programs. Transfers are contingent upon geographic openings and operational necessity of the Office of Law Enforcement.
Specialized Duties:
CPO's may volunteer for specialized training allowing them to participate as: Office of Law Enforcement Instructors, Firearms Program Range Personnel, Officer Survival/Defense Tactics Program Personnel, Undercover Investigations, Sonar and/or Forensics Officers, Academy Advisors, Field Training Officers, etc.
 Promotional Opportunities: Contingent upon vacancies becoming available within the rank structure.