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Park Ranger

Career Outlook

Park rangers are responsible for the management of state and federal parks. Rangers oversee the use of visitor facilities and police the grounds if they have overnight facilities. Park rangers clear trails and keep facilities in good condition during the peak visitation months.

Rangers may conduct walking tours, explaining environmental features that are invisible to the untrained eye. They maintain standards of cleanliness around campgrounds in order to minimize visits from hungry wildlife. Park rangers also often serve as forest fire spotters and on occasion, as forest fire fighters. They are also law enforcement officers on occasion, with purview over the parks to which they are assigned.

Education

Most park rangers have a degree in an environmental science, biology, anthropology or a related field. Candidates for a park ranger job usually volunteer or get a seasonal job in a park before applying for a job. Experience counts, especially experience in helping manage a park facility.

Current Employment

It's difficult to establish a head count for state and federal park rangers. The National Park Service has 391 sites to staff; that would require several thousand rangers. in addition they hire ten thousand seasonal employees for a wide variety of jobs. Every state has its complement of park rangers, as do many counties.

Job Outlook

Parks and recreation departments always suffer early in a state budget cutting process. Nevertheless, the pool of park ranger jobs will remain constant due to retirements and expanding staff needs. Applicants for park ranger jobs need to acquaint themselves with the facilities and the governmental organization that staffs the parks well in advance of an application.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%   $30,626
Median Salary   $48,400
Highest 10%   $67,490

Source: Salary.com

Note: Salaries with the National Park Service will be higher than those in most states.

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