How to Become a Park Ranger

How to Become a Park Ranger
Becoming a park ranger has a lot to offer for those who want to combine the outdoors with a little law enforcement, because that is what many park rangers are: policemen and conservationists. The idea of working and even sometimes living in a park, as rangers often do, appeals to many. However, becoming a ranger isn't easy. It requires appropriate education and considerable job experience, and even then job openings are infrequent. It isn't the kind of career one can start on a whim.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • At least a B.A. degree in a relevant field or law enforcement experience combined with an A.A. (Associate Arts) degree in a relevant field A few years of relevant field work
  • At least a B.A. degree in a relevant field or law enforcement experience combined with an A.A. (Associate Arts) degree in a relevant field
  • A few years of relevant field work
Step 1
Start by getting a B.A. in the right field. The National Park Service and most state park services require a four-year degree and prefer one from the following fields: botany, business, conservation, criminal justice, forestry, park and recreation management, public administration or wildlife management. Advancing to a management level of a park service likely will require an M.A. as well. A person with a law enforcement background might be able to make the jump with only a two-year degree in conservation, forestry or something similar.
Step 2
Start working with a local park service to build your experience and make connections. From the beginning or eventually you should work for the park service you wish to join. If you want to be a ranger with the California or Kentucky state park system, you should try to work for that service in another capacity first. If you want to end up with the National Park Service, you should pursue a part-time or volunteer job with the National Park Service first.
Step 3
Get certification as an emergency first responder. This will help you get one of the part-time park jobs that may become available while you wait for the real thing.
Step 4
Monitor the desired park service for job openings. Be ready to apply when one becomes available. If you have made the proper connections, you probably will receive a heads-up about the opening from within the park service.
Step 5
Be prepared to receive further training. Many National Park Service ranger duties are considered unique to the National Park Service, and rangers receive special training before going on assignment. For example, new full-time rangers with the National Park Service go to the Horace M. Albright Training Center (Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona) or the Stephen T. Mather Training Center (Harpers Ferry in West Virginia) to receive training before beginning their jobs.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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