Park rangers greet and assist visitors to national lands. They staff visitor centers, serve as guides and educators, police campgrounds and recreation areas, enforce the rules and empty the garbage.
Some park rangers patrol the more distant recreation areas, checking conditions and ensuring that visitors are both safe and following the rules. Some park rangers are law-enforcement officers, enforcing federal law as well as park regulations, conducting search and rescue, and responding to any general mayhem that occurs within park boundaries. Others work in education/interpretation, teaching visitors about the plants, animals and natural environment of the lands they protect.
Most permanent, full-time ranger positions require a four-year degree with at least 24 semester/36 quarter hours in courses such as natural resource management, natural sciences, history, archeology, anthropology, park and recreation management, or law enforcement and other closely related subjects. Those hoping to work for the National Park Service as a law enforcement ranger or in education/interpretation must meet requirements of the GS-5 national level. This means that candidates must either have a bachelors degree or have at least one year of work experiece at the GS-4 national level and two years of post-secondary education.
Most permanent, full-time park ranger positions require previous experience. Guiding tours in a historical or geologic site, archeological or historical research work, general forestry, such as firefighting or trail maintenance, or any law enforcement experience is considered relevant. More relevant, though, would be actual Forest Service or National Park Service experience, often available through seasonal positions or by volunteer work.
The Forest Service and National Park Service provides many routes of advancement depending on education and aptitude and willingness to relocate. Many senior Forest Service and National Park Service officials began their careers as seasonal over-hires.
Article Written By Tony Padegimas
Tony Padegimas is a freelance writer based in Phoenix. His articles on outdoor pursuits, general fitness, sports, theater, the inside guts of buildings, and many other random topics have appeared in numerous local and national magazines. He is the author of Day and Overnight Hikes - Tonto National Forest, published by Menasha Ridge Press.