Education Requirements for a Forest Ranger

Education Requirements for a Forest Ranger
What most people think "forest rangers" do is often actually done by park rangers, working for the U.S. Forest Service or the National Park Service. "Forest ranger" is a casual term but not a technical job title. There are several requirements to become a park ranger.

Park Rangers

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.

Many Duties

Some forest 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.


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.

Previous Experience

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 experience, often available through seasonal positions or by volunteer work.


The Forest Service provides many routes of advancement depending on education and aptitude and willingness to relocate. Many senior Forest 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.

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