How to Get Park Ranger Jobs

By Eric Hammer

Do you love nature? Have you always wondered how park ranger jobs are obtained? If so, read on and we'll tell you all about how to get park ranger jobs.

First, the bad news: relatively few people land a full time, permanent park ranger job right off the bat. In most cases, you'll need to apply for temporary or seasonal work in one of America's national parks. You may have to continue doing this for some time before you'll finally qualify to land a full time, permanent job with the ranger service.

Park ranger jobs are also divided into two separate sections. The most common kind are "interpretive park rangers," whose job it is to help guide people around the park, offer tours of historical sites such as Liberty Island and Ellis Island and generally work as a professional storyteller.

The other option for park ranger jobs is to work in law enforcement. These park rangers are federal officers with federal police training. They go after poachers on federal land, provide emergency services to campers and hikers and generally do the sorts of things that you might expect any law enforcement official to do.

How Much Can You Make?

According to, the average salary for park ranger jobs is $47,000 per year, though the numbers can be as low as $31,000 per year or as high as $105,000 per year.

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One of the great things about getting a job as a park ranger, besides getting to work out in the middle nature is that you can often get live in jobs where your housing is paid for by the federal government. The federal government also provides its employees with excellent benefits including a fairly generous health insurance policy.

Keep in mind that when you are looking for work as a park ranger, a big part of your job involves working with people. While many people think that park rangers are the loners who hang out in a tiny cabin in a national park or reserve and don't have to talk to many people, the reality is that your job is supposed to be about working with visitors to the nation's parks and helping them with whatever problems they have. Therefore, you'll need excellent interpersonal skills for this job.

Finally, if you enjoy working in nature but can't get a job with the national park service, there may be park ranger jobs available with state parks that will get you out into nature while not requiring you to go through the constant cycle of temporary work before you land a permanent position.

Qualifications / Requirements

While no formal requirements exist for park rangers beyond a high school diploma, realistically, you'll want a college degree in some related field, such as parks management, biology or some other science discipline. Criminal justice degrees may also be helpful if you plan to pursue the law enforcement side of this work.

First Steps

Start by taking either a volunteer or temporary/seasonal job with the National Parks Service. This is how most people get their foot in the door for park ranger jobs. Then, keep going and work hard at your job until you eventually make your way to a permanent position.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about park ranger jobs:

AngelFire: So You Want to Be a Park Ranger? - While this article is obviously quite dated (it references the 1999-2000 season), it still contains some very useful information about getting park ranger jobs.

Park Ranger Jobs - This is a very comprehensive web site with links to some good articles on how to become a park ranger. The only thing that's annoying is the articles seem to be broken down into snippets so that you feel like you are being lead down a path before you find out what you really want to know.

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