The first step to becoming a park ranger is realizing that it takes a lot of hard work. If you’re still in high school, you really need to have good grades, especially in the sciences. Once you’re sure that being a park ranger is right for you, follow these steps to make your dreams a reality:
– Start looking into colleges that specialize in an environmental field, such as park management, natural history, forestry, outdoor recreation, or any other related environmental field. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree in order to be considered for a park ranger position.
– Once you’ve enrolled into a college degree program, request applications for seasonal work from the National Park Service. Part of the requirement for landing a full time job after college is that you have at least 2-5 years of part-time work in the parks. You will need to have certifications in CPR and advanced first aid to be considered for the part time. But, be sure that you are polite and professional during your part time work. This time is used to build connections for later down the road.
– It is also a good idea to receive a seasonal law enforcement certification during this time, as well. This requires about 300 hours of training and can be taken through courses offered by many community colleges.
– You may want to consider some sort of science minor in your undergraduate studies. One of the main job functions of a park ranger is to work with scientists in those areas. The more you understand about their science, the easier it is to work with them.
– Due to many recent budget cuts, the competition for park rangers is pretty fierce. You will need to make yourself stand out from other applicants. If you do all of the above suggestions, you’re off to a great start! Consider a master’s degree in your chosen field of study, as this will greatly increase your chances of getting the best job opportunities for park ranger.
– Be flexible. You should be willing to work in different areas of the country and to do other tasks that may not necessarily fall into your job description; at least initially. Showing that you’re a team player and willing to go above and beyond will make you stand out from other candidates. Once you’ve worked your way up through the system, you can start requesting different positions and areas to work. But initially, remember to be flexible.