How to Become a Park Ranger – Expert’s Advice and Tips from Expert

how to become a park ranger

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Last Updated on September 19, 2020 by Michael J. Branco

Park rangers usually work for the National Park Service or similar state agencies, protecting and managing parks, recreational areas, and historic sites. One of their main targets is encouraging the conservation of America’s natural resources, teaching the general public about parks and the coastal regions, and protecting park resources in addition to traffic to these parks. People who gain experience can advance to positions like park superintendent or park ranger. In this article, I will tell you how to become a park ranger.

What does a Park Ranger Do?

Before you learn how to become a park ranger you need to know what a park ranger does. A park ranger is accountable for defending the nation’s ecosystems and the wildlife within them. They may function as ecological experts, historians, or even law enforcement officers.

Park rangers patrol the reasons to guarantee park guests ‘ have been following rules and don’t interrupt the environment or other guests. They’re also able to run tours and answer queries by visitors, and they take part in search and rescue assignments. Lots of park rangers work from visitors centers within their parks and provide guests with maps, pointing out areas of attention and allowing them to find out in some areas which can be off-limits for people.   

Types of Park Rangers

In general, there are two particular kinds of park rangers. But it ought to be mentioned that these many kinds aren’t exclusive and usually overlap, and lots of park rangers will have some wrapped up within their career.  

Law Enforcement Rangers

Most park rangers are fully certified peace officers who have the training and authority to make arrests, investigate crimes, and carry out search and rescue operations. Law-enforcement park rangers might answer crimes in progress or search for lost hikers. They frequently have special learning outdoor skills such as ATV usage, horse riding, the ship operating, etc. 

Interpretive and Cultural Park Rangers

All these would be the park rangers who provide insightful and teaching adventures for people. Their intention would always be to help people develop a knowledge and appreciation for historical sites, wildlife refuges, archaeologically-significant places, and much more. They can answer calls, provide advice for information, or even plan demos and outreach.  

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Park Ranger?

Some of the attractions of a park ranger career include working outdoors and looking after nature. However, there are also drawbacks to the occupation, such as working weekends, vacations, holidays, and summer. Those are some of the most well-known times for individuals to benefit from the parks.  

You also have to be OK with performing manual labor in cold, hot, or wet states. After all, you are working out.  

Also, the farther up the park ranger ladder you go from county to state to national, the more likely it will be you’ll be delegated to a place some distance from your present site.  

What Does Park Rangers Study?

Most park ranger positions call for a faculty’s bachelor’s level. Rangers might have degrees in tourism and recreation management or ecological instruction. But a solid foundation in science, environmental science, and mathematics is essential to get work in various locations. Most rangers have significant degrees in mathematics, forestry, natural resource conservation and management, wildlife biology, or ecology. Study in these areas prepares them to become park interpreters; therefore, they can educate people regarding scientific and natural capabilities. Some aspiring rangers study history to get ready for careers at significant sites, like battlefields.  

Competition for its ranger places is ferocious, especially within the National Park Service. People who have college degrees in environmental and earth sciences will get an advantage in the job marketplace. Experience is also extremely essential. Start volunteering prematurely – you can find several chances for summer or even seasonal volunteers.

Dedicated future rangers begin with volunteer work while at high school. Volunteering at the same park to get a couple of years at a row helps strengthen your relations using insiders. Therefore, they’ll remember you as soon as it is time to make an application for fulltime or seasonal paid rankings.  

American citizens limit employment with all the National Park Service (NPS). Candidates could also meet physical and age qualifications.  

New national parks also have just two years to finish the NPS Basics program orientation to the bureau, which involves traveling to onsite training in Washington, D.C., and Grand Canyon National Park. Continuing education opportunities are available through NPS.  

Career Guide, Obligations, and Frequent Tasks

Park rangers are assigned with many different responsibilities, which vary from visitor services to code enforcement and ecological stewardship. 

These activities could consist of collecting and keeping historical, natural, and scientific information and protecting park assets against damage or theft, like that due to forest fires. Park rangers are generally found interacting with the general public, like insignificant tours of parks and other sites. 

They’ll also investigate complaints and, when required, perform rescue and search operations.

Park rangers mostly work out, but they might also work in a workplace when needed to finish paperwork or service park facilities like visitor facilities. Park managers can also specialize in specific areas:

  • Backcountry rangers work at the metropolitan areas and might spend weeks at the park, keeping up the region.
  • Interpretive park rangers typically teach people, in addition to brand new park rangers, all about local wildlife and history, geology, and other things of interest.
  • Snow rangers work at the hills and can patrol on skis or snowmobiles.
  • Water-based rangers can provoke water vessels and take part in water imports.

How to Become a Park Ranger

Have you been called into the life of a park ranger? Park rangers act as stewards of country and national parks, working to maintain these natural places safe for plant and wildlife species and available to the countless people who visit them annually. Now we will see step by step how to become a park ranger.

Making a Decision of Becoming a Park Ranger


Decide which sort of park ranger you want to be. Do you like to work at the backcountry, or jungle, gathering environmental information and hunting for men and women who have missed their way? Or can you find yourself inviting park visitors in the entry and educating kids about animals and plants? Before you begin pursuing a career as a park ranger, it is essential to understand what park ranger roles are going to be the ideal match for you.  

  • Several park rangers have a background in science. They gather essential details on plant and wildlife populations and take part in decisions that impact the health of the park where they work. These park rangers ordinarily have a degree in the sciences or forestry.
  • Many of them have a focus on education. They are accountable for instructing people not just regarding the wildlife and geological formations within their park but also the way the park is affected by pollution, climate, and litter change. They teach people the best way to appreciate history and nature while also helping to conserve it.
  • Rangers will be the first field of safety in regions remote from fire and police stations. They ensure people follow park rules for the interest of everybody’s security.


Learn the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a park ranger. A lot of men and women are attracted to becoming a park ranger only because they care about the character and care to work outside daily. 

The flip side is they need to be inclined to do manual labor in hot, cold, or wet conditions, plus they frequently work weekends and vacations. Park rangers who offer law enforcement can face dangerous circumstances, and on occasion, the job may be emotionally challenging as if people become hurt or die in the park. A park ranger’s work is occasionally grueling, but it is frequently blissful, and many park rangers say they enjoy their jobs.

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You have to understand the mindset of a park ranger. Park rangers are government workers who perform a critical role in the security of national and state territory. Whether their primary purpose is conservation, education, or even law enforcement, park rangers often have the following attributes:

  • They respect the natural world. Park rangers spend their days studying the land where they work. They care for protecting trees, animals, and other plants.
  • They are convinced leaders. Whether leading a nighttime walk through a woods or heading into a search expedition to get a misplaced backpacker, park rangers are ordinarily the specialist in a specific position, and they should frequently take on the duty of directing others.
  • They don’t mind seasonal work, or even working weekends and vacations. Since nearly all park visitors flock to the parks during winter days and months away, park rangers are busiest if other men and women are vacationing.
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Requirements of Becoming a Park Ranger


Get a college education. To be eligible as a ranger for the National Park Service, you’ll have to have at least a more moderate level, one year of work experience in a park, or even a combo of those two.

  • The most frequent levels accredited by park rangers are public Government, law enforcement, along with park and recreation director, however, you can find additional level programs that would also qualify you to be a park ranger. Most sections want their rangers to maintain at least a two-year degree; some places may demand a four-year degree.
  • If you would like to concentrate in the field of ecology or conservation, then get a bachelor’s degree from the natural sciences, including environmental research, forestry, biology, or geology.
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Get knowledgeable about the parks system. Pay a visit to the country and national parks. Find out more about the parks’ histories, guidelines, and regulations. Speak with all the rangers there about the way they pursued their professions and volunteer to spend some time helping a guard to receive a better comprehension of precisely what the job involves.

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Gain work experience. Many parks hire seasonal entry workers who move on to become park rangers. Look at working as a tour guide or docent in a museum, or even working as an expense-paid intern using the Student Conservation Association.

park rangers salary

Search for a Park Ranger Job


Contact with parks that interest you. Get in touch with the office, which has jurisdiction over the region in which you want to work, and inquire about the way to become a park ranger. Requirements vary for every section, based on its needs.

  • Contact the regional office of the National Park Service if you need to work in a national park. You could also find vacancies by looking for them about the Government’s official job site,
  • Contact your state’s department of parks and diversion if you need to work in a state park or your city’s division of parks and recreation if you need to work in a city park.
park ranger uniform


Apply for jobs. The application procedure to get a job as a park ranger fluctuates in line with the division offering the place. Whatever the scenario, it is going to incorporate a program, analyzing, and interview procedure, and history checks until you’re eventually hired. Know the prerequisites for your specific job for which you are applying, and remember that you meet them before proceeding.

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Administrative Careers will administer this evaluation with America that will assist the National Park Service to decide whether you are qualified for a park ranger. You are going to be requested to select the examination after applying for a job vacancy during the Office of Personnel Management.

  • If you need to be a law requirement park officer, you should also finish the Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program at one of the nine universities that offer it. You can’t substitute other coaching programs or work experience with this course, and there isn’t any distance learning alternative.

Job Training of a Park Ranger

National Park Service officers, for the most part, get preparing at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona or the NPS preparing office in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Individual states may have varied training conditions and places. Prospective rangers that want to work in some specific states should see their nation’s official parks and recreation website to learn more about career opportunities and prerequisites.

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Other Useful Skills and Expertise

Park rangers have to be physically strong. While park rangers frequently live and work in remote places, they have to communicate effectively still and work well with other people. 

Park managers must also have a solid understanding of the nature of their country as well as the park where they work, need to have the ability to work under stress, also must be able to work.

Potential Job Titles for This Career

  • Educational Specialist on Environment
  • Coordinator of Park Activities 
  • Manager of the Park
  • The naturalist of the park
  • Program Manager

Salary and Outlook of a Park Ranger

Park ranger salary relies upon the administration’s General Schedule (GS) pay tables that may be looked at in the US Office of Personnel Management. For the same job of game and fish warden, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that an average yearly wage of $57,710 at 2018.1

Check out this website for knowing the whole procedure by your state.

What Kind of Societies and Professional Companies Do Park Rangers Have?    

The Association of National Park Rangers (NAPR) provides several resources for park professionals, including a training program, personalized coaching, and professional liability insurance coverage policy, and medical health insurance for seasonal workers.  

The Park Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) functions all kinds of park employees throughout professional development, increasing the park security and the total park experience for people.  

The National Recreation and Park Association (NPRA) conducts a certificate application for park professionals. Four kinds of certificates are accessible. The broadest is that your Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). There are also certificates for park operators, coastal center operators, and park security inspectors. NRPA also has continuing instruction. Its career center posts jobs, in addition to peer, reviewed suggestions and information on professional trends.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do park rangers earn a yr.? 

Most U.S. National Park Service Rangers have been GS-5s or even GS-7s on the typical civic service pay scale. That means $28,000-45,000 per year fulltime. But most rangers are seasonal (temporary employees), or at the mercy of leave; therefore, they’re not used yearlong. Seasonal standing employment will continue for approximately 26 weeks.  

What age do you need is to get started volunteering?  

You can generally work at a kiosk to get a country park at age 16, though this age condition varies from country.  

What’s your average pay? 

Roughly $30,000-$60,000 salaries can exceptionally depend on the dimensions and degree of this park, the adventure, and this ranger’s duties. 

Why do I Want to know environmental science in this career?  

Therefore you are aware of how to take care of the surroundings. In case you did not, then you’ll not understand things such as what the critters might eat or bird calls.  

Do park rangers remain overnight at the park or live in the park? If this is so, where?  

For example, some specific parks, Isle Royale, along with other remote parks, have rangers living onsite. In most parks, they’ll soon be living in the closest city.  

Can I become a park ranger in 50? 

You can; however, you will need to have the necessary education first. There might also be some prejudice toward hiring older people; therefore, be ready for that.  

Can you have a family and children if you’re a ranger?  

You are alright to have kiddies. The same as any additional endeavor, you are going to have to head to work daily. Rangers generally work approximately ten hrs. Every day, you are leaving lots of time for family duties.


  • Contest for park ranger jobs could be rigid, particularly to law enforcement park rangers. Deciding the instruction, job experience along with other requirements for getting the park ranger place you want can be challenging. 
  • Be careful to acquire in-depth advice from the section of the park that you want to work for, instead of relying upon general descriptions of job demands.


If you want to be a park ranger, you’ll have to finish no less than a 2-year diploma in a related area, including law enforcement, public management, or park administration. Look on the internet for seasonal jobs or volunteer opportunities at parks nearby you, which will permit you to find experience, then make an application for an empty park ranger place and pass and take the Group VI Law Enforcement and Investigation exam.

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