How To Become A Park Ranger
Career Video: Park Ranger
A park ranger has many responsibilities in our national and state parks, including keeping people safe and educating visitors about the park. As a park ranger, you will be working outdoors. You will teach others about the park, work as law enforcement, keep the park clean, and have other duties. Many park rangers started out volunteering in the parks or had seasonal positions, then gradually got promoted into their current positions. You may find a career as a park ranger to be extremely rewarding.
Why Become A Park Ranger
Every year, millions of people visit national and state parks. Park rangers make sure everybody is having a good time and answer questions people may have. They are the most important authority at the park. A park ranger has a lot of different responsibilities at a park, including leading tours, receiving complaints from the public, collecting data on wildlife and plant populations, teaching the public about the park, law enforcement, collecting park fees, answering questions and telephone calls, keeping the park grounds clean, and other duties. All parks are different, so duties of a park ranger will vary from park to park.
People want to get outdoors and explore our national and state parks. Park rangers are people who can share their knowledge and love of the parks with others. As a park ranger, you can help others understand all about what happens inside of the park. Most people who come to parks are families and friends who want to have fun. Sometimes people get out of control; park rangers need to be able to be law officers who can manage people, give citations and remove them from the park, if need be.
This is a great career for people who enjoy the outdoors, respect our parks and natural environment, love interacting with people and want to work in a customer service position.
Park Rangers must possess the following qualities and skills:
- Enjoys educating others
- Loves the outdoors
- Good communicator
- Enjoys science
- Law enforcement
Park Ranger Work Environment
By now, you may have figured out that park rangers work in our national and state parks. There are thousands of parks across the United States, and many of them are close by you. Park rangers spend a lot of time in the outdoors. A park ranger must be prepared for any kind of outdoor weather – sun, clouds, rain, snow, or even natural disasters like flooding or wildfires. Working as a park ranger is a full time career that requires weekends and holidays. People enjoy coming to parks during the most popular holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. This means that while other occupations have these days off, a park ranger is hard at work.
Park Ranger Salary
The median salary for a park ranger was $25,000 in 2015, according to the National Park Service.
There are many parks within the United States, including state and national parks. Salaries can vary depending on what park a ranger works for, what state a ranger is located in, and whether they work for a state or national park. Park rangers are government employees, and as such the funds available for salaries can be limited depending on government funding.
Park Ranger Career Outlook
Employment of park rangers is expected to grow about seven percent from 2014 to 2024. This is about average compared with other occupations in the United States.
Approximately 22,000 people are employed by the National Park Service as permanent employees. The majority of employees are seasonal and temporary, being hired for the busy summer season. There are also many volunteers who take on jobs at the parks. Many people start out as volunteers or seasonal workers at the park. Then they gradually move into positions of higher authority.
Park Ranger Degree
A park ranger is a person who brings many years of experience and education into their position. Read below to find out how you can become a park ranger.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. An undergraduate education will give you a solid background in this field. There are many programs available, including biology, forestry, environmental science, geology, park and recreation management, wildlife management, conservation, botany, or any other number of programs.
Step 2: Volunteer. Check out the volunteer programs at a park near you. This will give you an opportunity to find out if working in a park is a right fit for you. It will also help you make friendships, and possibly make a connection into finding a job as a park ranger.
Step 3: Apply as a temporary worker. The majority of people who work for our parks are seasonal and temporary. Working as a temporary employee will help you gain insights into life at a national and state park. You then have the opportunity to get promoted from part-time, seasonal work into full-time, year-round employment. On some occasions, people get hired directly into the position of park ranger.