According to the U.S. National Park Service, every year, approximately 275 million people visit a national park somewhere in the United States. In all, 84 million acres of land and 4.5 million acres of oceans, lakes and reservoirs have been set aside as protected by the National Park Service. Such a substantial area requires considerable maintenance and protection--primarily by forest rangers. As of 2009, the National Park Service employed nearly 3,900 rangers. The requirements for becoming a forest ranger aren't significantly strenuous, although the work itself can be physically taxing.
Only United States citizens are considered for employment by the National Park Service as forest rangers.
To be a forest ranger, you must be drug-free. As a ranger, you are subject to random drug testing. Before you are even employed, you need to pass an initial drug test.
To be considered for employment as a forest ranger, you have to pass a pre-employment physical. Your height-to-weight ratio is measured to test for obesity; your general fitness also is tested. If you pass, you'll be considered for employment. Rangers are subject to annual or biannual medical reviews. Your training as a forest ranger--which may include firearm training and/or horseback riding--is highly physical in nature. Once you begin work, expect to be walking, running or riding frequently.
To be considered as a forest ranger, you must not have a record of any domestic violence convictions. If you have such a conviction, you are disqualified from consideration.
Although no specific degree is required, holding a ranger-related degree increases your chances of being selected. An associate or bachelor's degree in environmental science, forestry, biology or a related field is helpful. Even a degree in a foreign language--particularly Spanish--may help your chances, since so many of the parks' visitors are not native-English speakers.
Article Written By William Jackson
William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.