Social Engagement: Medium
What’s What: There’s a saying that park rangers get paid in sunrises and sunsets. That’s probably because no one goes into it for the money and the competition can be, well, a bit challenging. But if you love solitude and nature and are comfortable with part-time and seasonal work that comes with unexpected demands, there might be a home for you where the buffalo roam.
Amava Take: Park rangers perform all kinds of tasks to keep our national parks up and running and usually work for federal or state governments. They’re also responsible for protecting woodlands, forests and conservatories. You’ll most likely work outdoors and patrol campgrounds, trails and surrounding areas. The work is varied and you could be putting out fires one day (literally) or participating in a search and rescue mission the next. You’ll mingle with park guests, find lost hikers, lead tours, provide information to visitors, investigate complaints and maybe even get to wear that iconic hat.
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these positions?
You should be physically fit and have strong communication skills. It also helps if you’re willing to relocate.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Safety first—always. Seemingly small details matter a lot. Accurate registration forms at the park office can be a crucial link if a search and rescue mission becomes necessary.
What’s a typical daily schedule like?
It depends on where you’re placed and what your education and experience is like. The job can entail anything and everything from parking assistance, to spotting fallen trees across trails, to teaching children about wildlife.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the job/experience?
Every visitor is excited to be there and in awe of their surroundings. It’s rejuvenating.
How would you describe the hard parts?
Getting a position. Job openings are few and the competition is fierce. It can take the right combination of education, experience and flexibility to land a spot.
What surprised you the most about the experience?
Everyday there is a surprise, but so far, this is the biggest: I had to direct traffic around a tarantula jam. Yep, I know!
Special Requirements: A bachelor’s degree can give you a competitive edge. In lieu of a college education, entry level candidates must have at least three years of experience in parks and conservation plus demonstrate an understanding of park work. Some states require particular training. Park Ranger EDU offers information about finding the requirements and park locations in each state.
Finding a Position: The National Park Service has opportunities to work in more than 400 national parks and offices—including in exotic places like Guam and the Virgin Islands. Internships and volunteer gigs are also listed. USA Jobs is another great resource for positions, and includes seasonal and part time jobs. Another place to look for open park ranger positions are the websites for your county and state Department of Wildlife and Parks. Search “Department of Wildlife and Parks” and the name of your state and county.