What most people think "forest rangers" do is usually done by park rangers or foresters. The U.S. Forest Service also employs a wide range of scientists, technicians and administrative professionals, including teachers, Realtors and accountants. (Pictured below: A forest service plane can be seen flying over a fire in Oregon)
Wide Range of Jobs
The Forest Service employs more than 30,000 people across its vast and varied jurisdictions. They do everything from implementing multidisciplinary ecological restoration strategies to emptying the garbage.
In 1905, when the forest "reserves" were transferred to the Department of Agriculture, the first full-time professional forest rangers began to replace the politically appointed part timers. Applicants had to pass a civil service exam and a field exam to prove they could handle a horse and follow a map.
Today, most permanent full-time employees have four-year degrees and/or years of experience in the field. Many researchers have master's or doctorate degrees.
Taking care of the public's land combines all the hardships of outdoor labor, customer service and bureaucracy. A successful forest ranger, whatever the specific job title, needs the flexibility to adapt to change, and the patience to deal with the demanding public and endless paperwork.
All Forest Service jobs are federal government jobs, and come with a lot of regulation and paperwork. Job descriptions and pay grade are set according to a standardized process.
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.