How to Become a Park Ranger

Park rangers, or forest rangers as they are sometimes called, have some of the coolest jobs around. They get to work outdoors, mingle with park guests, find lost hikers, lead tours, provide information to visitors, investigate complaints, and lead those really fun sing-a-longs around the huge campfire down at the amphitheater.

So what could be so hard about becoming a park ranger? Well, it's not as easy as you might think. While a college degree is highly desirable, for some park service positions this is not an absolute must. However, the better your education, the better your chances are of getting a park ranger job.

Today's park rangers are highly trained professionals who generally have, at minimum, a Bachelor of Science degree in:

  • Park and Recreation Management
  • Conservation
  • Botany
  • Geology
  • Wildlife Management
  • Forestry

If you're more interested in an administration position, those "behind-the-curtain" type careers, then a four-year degree in criminal justice, business or public administration is highly desired.

Do you want to be in management? A Master of Science or Ph.D. in a topic related to your area of interest is highly desirable, if not required.

As you can see, there's a lot more to becoming a park ranger than just applying for a position and wearing an awesome hat. It's a lot of work.

Here's what you need to know about how to become a park ranger:

Determine What Type of Park Ranger You'd Like to Be

Park rangers come in a surprisingly wide range of flavors. To determine which kind of park ranger job best suits your interests and abilities, first decide if you want to be a:

  • National Park Ranger - Permanent
  • National Park Ranger - Temporary or Seasonal
  • State Park Ranger
  • County Park Ranger
  • Park Ranger Working in U.S. Territories

From there, consider the different types of park ranger job descriptions.

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