Park Ranger Job Description & Career Outlook
The overall job responsibility of park ranger is to manage and protect a variety of parks, recreational areas, and historical sites. They work in national parks and perform many tasks that result in the conversation of natural resources. They are either employed by the National Park Service or by a comparable state agency.
Park rangers have a variety of duties. One of the primary duties is to protect property and guard against forest fires. They perform search and rescue duties for the public, and they can be responsible for collecting and maintaining information that is natural, historical, or scientific in nature. Park rangers interact with the public frequently; occasionally, they may give tours of parks and other sites, and they may operate and maintain campgrounds. They also investigate complaints and enforce laws and regulations. Park rangers primarily work outside, but like all law enforcement officers, they may also work in an office setting and complete paperwork.
Park rangers can actually specialize in a particular area. Backcountry rangers work in the most remote areas, and may spend weeks in the park, maintaining the area. Snow rangers work in the mountains, and may patrol on skis or snowmobiles.
How to Become a Park Ranger
Potential park rangers are most qualified if they have a bachelor’s degree in a science field, such as botany, zoology, geology, environmental studies or ecology. Some universities offer programs specifically designed for park management or forestry. If a candidate has a degree in one of these areas, he or she will have an advantage. Once a national park ranger candidate is hired, they receive job-related training – typically at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona or at a training center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Candidates should contact the Department of Parks and Recreation for your state or the U.S. National Parks Service to request application materials. In parallel, if you lack a degree, request free information from the fully accredited schools below. It only takes a minute to fill out the form and there is no obligation.
Besides their education, park rangers must be physically fit and have a good deal of physical strength. Although sometimes they may work in remote areas, they should have the ability to work well with others.
Park Ranger Salary
Becoming a park ranger is highly competitive. A new park ranger may start at the GS-5 level of the government payscale which would equate to an annual salary of $27,431 to $35,657 according to the 2012 general schedule pay tables.1 If a park ranger works at the GS-7 level they can expect to earn between $33,979 to $44,176.1
Park Ranger Career Outlook
While budgets are constrained, there are frequently openings for Park Rangers in the US Park Services throughout the country. You can find current openings by searching USAJOBS.
Featured Criminal Justice Schools and Wildlife Forestry Programs
University of Phoenix
- A.A. in Criminal Justice
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Florida Tech University Online
- Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security
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Penn Foster Schools
- Wildlife & Forestry Conservation
California University of Pennsylvania
- Land Management (Bachelor of Arts)
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- Master of Science in Legal Studies: Criminal Justice
- PhD in Criminal Justice - Public Management and Leadership-Advanced
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1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: US Office of Personnel Management: http://www.opm.gov/oca/12tables/pdf/gs.pdf
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.