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Park Ranger Job Description, Career as a Park Ranger, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

rangers national parks service

Education and Training: Bachelor's degree

Salary: Median—$30,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Park rangers teach people to respect the delicate natural balance of our national and state parks and forests. They are employed by the National Park Service, which is an agency of the U.S. federal government, and by state agencies. Rangers work throughout the country preserving the natural environment for future generations. They protect these areas by enforcing park rules and regulations, preventing forest fires, helping to maintain an ecological balance, and seeing that visitors plan campsites wisely. Park rangers are skilled campers with a great deal of knowledge about botany and wildlife. Perhaps the greatest danger to our parks is the danger of overuse: rangers watch and regulate the number of visitors to parks. They also provide information regarding park use and points of interest, issue fire permits, and collect fees.

In addition to protecting natural resources, park rangers protect people. They may rescue a rock climber who has fallen or chase away a bear that is threatening campers. In addition, rangers act as educators by teaching campers how to use camping equipment, taking visitors on nature walks, setting up exhibits, and lecturing on historic topics. Park rangers also help to train new rangers.

Some rangers specialize in a certain type of patrol. There are backcountry rangers, who load up their mules with supplies and spend weeks at a time in isolated, undeveloped areas checking on hikers and watching for trails that need repairing. Snow rangers patrol their area on skis and are skilled in first aid, which includes applying splints to injured skiers. Some rangers make their rounds by boat or canoe. Many rangers are assisted by park aides.

Law enforcement is among the many duties of a park ranger. Some national park rangers carry guns. Park rangers sometimes recover stolen cars or quiet rowdy visitors. They are also in charge of investigating any suspected illegal activity committed in national parks.

Education and Training Requirements

Park rangers are usually required to have a bachelor's degree; however, high school graduates are sometimes eligible for ranger jobs after three years of progressively responsible experience in conservation work or park operations. Interested individuals should study botany, zoology, geology, and ecology in college. Other useful subjects include park management, forestry, and the social sciences. Candidates with master's degrees in these fields often have an advantage over other applicants who are seeking jobs as park rangers.

One way that park rangers protect and preserve national parks and forests is by regulating the number of visitors to parks. (© Macduff Everton/Corbis.)

Other requirements for park rangers include physical strength, good health, and good eyesight. Rangers should enjoy the outdoors and working with people. They should also be creative, resourceful, responsible, and energetic.

Getting the Job

Most jobs for park rangers fall under civil service regulations, so applicants need to take the civil service exam. Candidates who have experience as a park aide or volunteer often apply for ranger jobs.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Park rangers can advance into positions of increased responsibility within their field after acquiring the necessary experience and education. For example, some rangers become park superintendents, who manage employees in their parks. Some transfer to larger parks that pay their rangers higher salaries. Others advance by becoming specialists in interpretation, resource management, or park planning.

The number of jobs for park rangers is expected to decrease through 2014. According to an April 17, 2006 article on WashingtonPost.com, the National Park Service is expected to increase its call for volunteers and decrease its ranger staff in 2007. These anticipated cuts were announced after President George W. Bush ordered parks to slash 20 percent of their 2006 operating budgets for 2007. Due to the rising cost of utilities and staff pay raises, the National Park Service will be forced to decrease its ranger staff.

Working Conditions

Most rangers work outdoors in all kinds of weather, and their work is physically strenuous. They generally work long hours during the summer and somewhat shorter hours during the winter. Rangers in the National Park Service may have to spend time alone in isolated areas. They can expect to be assigned to several different parts of the country during their careers and receive no assurance that they will remain in a particular area. Despite these obstacles, most park rangers derive a great deal of satisfaction from their work.

Where to Go for More Information

American Forests
P.O. Box 2000
Washington, DC 20013
(202) 955-4500
http://www.americanforests.org/

Association of National Park Rangers
P.O. Box 108
Larned, KS 67550-0108
(620) 285-2107
http://www.anpr.org/

National Park Service
1849 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20240
(202) 208-6843
http://www.nps.gov/
http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/

National Recreation and Park Association
22377 Belmont Ridge Rd.
Ashburn, VA 20148
(703) 858-0784
http://www.nrpa.org/

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries for full-time rangers in the National Park Service depend on education and experience. The median salary for all park rangers is $30,000. Experienced rangers typically earn $47,000 to $50,000 per year. Rangers at state parks usually earn less than those at national parks. Park rangers receive paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and other benefits given to federal or state employees. Many parks provide housing for their rangers.

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almost 5 years ago

Hi my name is Colin and I am currently in the Navy, I get out in about a year I was wondering if I could get a job and go to school at the same time.

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over 5 years ago

Hi, I am fifteen and I am interested in becoming a park ranger and i would like to know if any ranger has some advice for a future ranger.

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about 5 years ago

As a junior in high school planning my college education, I need to know something important. I'm terrified to go into this field because of the decreasing job availability and the low annual salary, but zoology and ecology have intrigued me for as long as I can remember. The personality requirements and physical demands of the occupation only make me more certain that I want to pursue it. Are the job prospects for this field really as grim as this article portrays them?

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almost 5 years ago

Hi, my name is Matthew Shrader. I am very interested in pursuing a career in Civil Services, specifically a Park Ranger. I am currently enlisted and forward deployed in the United States Marine Corps and discharge honorably late September of 2012. I have not taken the civil service exam, but I intend to. I do have to questions, though. What is the expected number of jobs to decrease from now until 2014? With the lack of open positions, there will be some competition among the applicants. Would you consider reviewing an application from a person with 4 years experience in the Marine Corps infantry and currently attending college?

Thank-You

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about 4 years ago

Hi Im Brian Robeson and would like to appl im 17 years old and i love wildlife and helping people. i have my bachelors degree and i am out of college

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almost 4 years ago

This is actually not bad at all. I like what I'm reading so far.

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over 4 years ago

if we get the job can we have sex with the animals? im pretty sure you can but i thought i would ask any ways, i mean why else would you want to be a park ranger

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over 4 years ago

if we get the job can we have sex with the animals? im pretty sure you can but i thought i would ask any ways, i mean why else would you want to be a park ranger

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over 4 years ago

I have had many experiences with bear co-ck i just want your opinions on which kind of bear has the longest and hardest of them all im trying to get a mold of it so i dont have the worry of getting my head ripped off each time i go down on one



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over 4 years ago

Hi, I was wondering if there are any jobs available to veterans without school behind them? And if so, What prerequisites would I have to have?

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over 4 years ago

I would like to know if i would get fired from this job if i had an orgy with a family of possums

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almost 6 years ago

hi i am a student at albertville alabama and i need th know what is the offical job descrpicion

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about 5 years ago

update the salaries :p

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over 5 years ago

hi, i have some questions i am going to get my masters degree in forestry and i want to drive in a park law enforcement truck and drive around a park but i dont know how i can get a job like that or what that position is called and what should i study in a university i also want to know some other positions in parks because their are alot and does a masters degree guarantee me a full time position? thankyou for reading and answering my questions bye anthony

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almost 4 years ago

This is a good job to be in. I would love to have this job and i also respect park rangers/ wardens

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over 4 years ago

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over 4 years ago

Hi, my name is Daniel from Greencastle,Pa and I was wondering if I should try to be a park ranger at a state park or a national park. How much less does a park ranger in a state park earn than a park ranger in a national park?

Future Park Ranger,
Daniel

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almost 4 years ago

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over 4 years ago

ill take the job on one conditioin... you a=give me 20 minutes with a bear and you have to suplly the lube

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about 5 years ago

hi, i am a student at Bishop Blanchet doing a report for my La honors class. dont ask why it is on park rangers my teacher is odd. anyway, i really need to know how long someone will usually be a ranger apprentice for before becoming a full ranger

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over 5 years ago

I'm not sure that you're going to be able to make it into any Master's program with that grammar. You might want to start considering other plans.

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about 6 years ago

Hi, I am currently enrolled at Skagit community college and intend on taking the PLEA. I am interested to learn if i as a student might have the opportunity to spend a night or two with a female park ranger in the field, i would like to see if it for certain a feild in which would be a good match for me. I am 43, i would like to make a career of this.

Thank-You

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about 6 years ago

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over 8 years ago

Do park rangers get to choose which park they work at? I hope they dont always have to work night shift, and the uniforms should be top notch and awesome!!

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almost 2 years ago

I am a 53 year old mail and am currently going through rehabilitation with the Veterans Administration. I served in the United States Navy from 1979-1987.
I have a GED and I love the outdoors.
Can you please tell me what I have to do
to be considered for a Park Ranger.
I GS-11 with Long Beach port from 1986-1987.

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Brian Robeson, how is it that you're 17, out of college, and type like a 3rd grader? I think the only reason you're "out of college" is because you haven't actually been and you've managed to confused your middle school diploma with a legitimate college degree.

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Brian Robeson, how is it that you're 17, out of college, and type like a 3rd grader? I think the only reason you're "out of college" is because you haven't actually been and you've managed to confused your middle school diploma with a legitimate college degree.

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