The IAS versus IFoS (Indian Forest Service)

Indian Forest Service Vs IAS/IAS Vs Indian Forest Service/Civil Services and Indian Forest Services

Both the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS) are all-India services with recruitment to both through exams conducted by the UPSC. In fact, interested candidates can apply for both the exams together through the official website of the UPSC. The prelims exam is the same for both the civil services and the forest service. It is only in the subsequent stages (mains and interview) that the process bifurcates. You can read more about the process and exam scheme for the forest service here. This article compares both the IAS and the IFoS (IAS Vs Indian Forest Service).

If you clear the IFoS exam, you will be recruited as an Indian Forest Service Officer. You will work in the state forest department. All top posts in the state forest department are occupied by IFoS officers. Also, top positions heading the various national parks and wildlife reserves go to IFoS officers. The chief mandate of the Indian Forest Service is the implementation of the National Forest Policy.

A comparison of IAS and IFoS:




Exam conducted by





Higher due to lesser vacancies


Nationality: Indian citizen

Nationality: Indian citizen

Education: Any Graduate

Education: Science or Engineering Bachelor’s Degree*

Age limit: 21-30 with relaxations for reserved communities

Age limit: 21-30 with relaxations for reserved communities

Starting post

Sub-District Magistrate (SDM)

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO)

Highest post

Cabinet Secretary

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF)

No. of Optionals



* Detailed educational criterion for eligibility to the Indian Forest Service:

The candidate must have a Bachelor’s degree with at least one of the following subjects: animal husbandry & veterinary science, botany, chemistry, geology, mathematics, statistics, physics, zoology; OR, the candidate must have a Bachelor’s degree in agriculture, forestry or engineering.

Points to note:-

  • If you have a love for forests and wildlife, the forest service is a good choice of career for you.
  • If you are hesitant to live in forest areas for most of your career span, do not go for the forest service. You can sometimes get posted in towns depending on the area of your work. (You may be assigned to timber production, for instance.)
  • If you want variety in your work, the IAS is the better choice.
  • The IAS has a higher social standing in our society.
  • The perks and salary are on par for both the services.
  • Corruption and political interference is present in both the services. In the forest service, people try to grab forest land, etc.
  • In the forest service, you will have to grapple with poachers and smugglers.
  • One perk as forest officers is that you (plus family) will have VIP access to wildlife reserves and national parks in the country.