Park Ranger Job Duties
Within the park ranger job description, park rangers perform a range of duties throughout their careers. These include:
• management of the natural habitat using known habitat conservation and restoration techniques
• office work that includes analyzing reports and research data
• educating the park visitors and local community about the park, local wildlife, environmental issues and at times, controversial issues
• creating public education and informational materials such as brochures
• leading campfire programs in campgrounds
• campground check-in and patrolling
• performing studies in the park
• leading tours and hikes
• maintenance work on park facilities and trails
• responding to emergency situations including visitor injuries, fires, and land and water rescues
• some park rangers also act as law enforcement within the park
• patrolling waterways
Park ranger employment assignments are often located in wilderness areas far from cities, although some park rangers will work in more centrally located regions. Most work is conducted outdoors in all seasons and weather conditions. At times, park rangers will need to carry research and other equipment great distances into rough terrain. Summers are often busier with a significant increase in park visitors. If the placement involves a lake or other large water resource, then works hours may also be spent on a boat.
Park Ranger Job Salary
Park ranger salaries vary greatly from state to state and from position to position. Full time salaries for park ranger job descriptions generally start at around $35,000 a year with supervisors making up to $85,000 a year. Seasonal and temporary positions general pay minimum wage to about $15 an hour.
Education and Experience Requirements
To become a park ranger, usually a bachelor’s degree in a science or conservation related field with coursework in recreation and/or parks management covers the education requirements of both entry level and management park ranger positions. For entry-level positions, volunteer, intern, or paid experience working in a similar position, such as a scientific aid, in habitat restoration, at natural history museum, or as a park interpreter is also required. Seasonal and temporary positions will only require some college education and maybe volunteer or intern work in a related field.
Other desirable skills that parks departments look for in park ranger candidates include experience with GIS, computers, statistics, databases, public speaking, and boating. Hiring managers would also expect candidates to have wildlife, ecosystem, and cultural knowledge about the specific park the ranger will be assigned to. Other skills in high demand include law enforcement, wildfire response, and search and rescue.
Where to Find Park Ranger Jobs
Several federal departments hire park rangers including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forestry Service. Also, jobs can be found through state parks and recreation departments, fish and wildlife agencies, and utility companies as they often own and manage large wilderness areas dams and other water sources. A good way to start your park ranger career is to apply for seasonal and temp positions as these often become permanent positions.