UPDATE:  This blog has been moved to www.rangercareers.com

Welcome to the Park Ranger Portal!  My name is Rob.  I worked for the National Park Service [NPS] for nearly ten years before resigning to follow my entrepreneurial spirit.  But the “green and gray” blood of the park ranger still courses through my veins and I spend my weekends and vacations exploring the national park system and staying in touch with my NPS friends.

When I tell people that I used to be a park ranger, the response is usually one or all of the following:

“Wow, cool!  I always wanted to be a park ranger.”

“How can I get a job in a national park?”

“What kind of degree do you need to be a park ranger?” 

So, that’s what this blog is all about — park ranger jobs.  How to find jobs.  How to get hired.  Living the life of a park ranger.  And whatever else happens to be brewing in my head at any given time.

If you’ve always dreamed of being a park ranger, I say “Go For It!!”

There’s no such thing as the perfect job but how many jobs give you the opportunity to live, work and play in places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Everglades?

Good luck to you.




  1. My husband is 42 years old. He is in excellent
    physical condition and owns a service repair
    garage. He loves the outdoors and respects nature
    and is a very ethical hunter and fisherman.
    He has always dreamed of being a National Park Ranger.
    He feels it is unreasonable to even consider a career
    change now and also feels that this type of a career would take him away from his family. I support him in whatever he desires, however I know that he would be happiest in the outdoors protecting our forests and wildlife. Does he need a degree? What type of experience would he need? What is the typical starting salary of a Park Ranger? What is the potential to make a fair living? I also work so between the two of us we could make it work. I appreciate your time and consideration. Thanks again.
    Paula T. NH

  2. Hi Paula –

    At 42, your husband has passed the maximum age limit (37) to be a Law Enforcement Park Ranger. But he could still be an Interpretive Park Ranger, giving programs to visitors, leading tours, nature walks, campfire programs, working in visitor centers, etc. The Park Ranger Career Handbook explains the requirements for both positions and how a person can qualify without a degree. http://www.rangercareers.com/parkrangerjobs.htm

    The average Park Ranger grade is GS-09, with a starting pay of $43,700 per year.

    Also, you mentioned that your husband owns a service repair garage. The National Park Service hires maintenance positions as well — mechanics, motor vehicle operators, heavy equipment operators, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. To get a look at the maintenance positions available, go to http://www.rangercareers.com/ and click on “Maintenance Jobs.”

    You don’t have to be a Park Ranger to work in a national park.

    Good luck,

  3. The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands has a few online training modules on both the History of the National Park Service and in Interpretation.

    If you head to http://www.eppley.org you can find the following courses:
    -Introduction to the National Park Service: The History of the NPS
    -Introduction to the National Park Service: The Organization of the NPS
    -Introduction to the National Park Service: The NPS and the Federal Government

    -Foundations of Interpretation
    -Informal Visitor Contacts
    -Interpretive Talk
    -Training and Coaching Interpreters

  4. Hi, I have been a park ranger for the last
    fourteen years. I was doing research for my
    newest endevor – I was lucky enough to get in
    on the ground floor of a new ranger program in
    the Pacific Northwest. Politics is the one
    sure thing to ruin even the most perfect job!
    I appreciate your blog, it gave me a shot in
    the arm and reminded me why I usually love
    this line of work.
    Keep up the great job promoting our profession.

  5. my husband and I are considering changing careers. we both are itching to become park rangers. i have a ba in art and he is a mechanic. i know you can get hired without a degree but what sort of degree/ preparation do we need to get involved with? would it be impossible for both of us to get a job at the same place? we are curious to know what position would allow us to wonder the forest on foot, horseback, or in a vehicle. thank you!

    • Hi Jamie –

      It is definitely possible for couples to work in the same park. They even have a name for it: dual career couple.

      What position will let you wander the parks? Park rangers, of course. But you know, I always thought that biologists got to spend even more time enjoying the outdoors than the rangers. Hell, even maintenance employees get to spend alot of time outdoors. Yes, they have to clean bathrooms but they also build campgrounds, maintain trails, and keep the beaches clean.

      Spend some time looking at the different job announcements on USAJobs.

  6. Hey Rob.
    My name is Jason. I’m 24 years old. I have a bachelors degree in marketing and I think that I would really like being a Park Ranger. I’ve been researching online and i have a few concerns.
    The only park ranger career handbook i’ve found is the 2007 edition. Will the information in it still be applicable for someone applying in 2009?
    Also, i like the wilderness, but regretably have not spent that much time in it. I’m a cross country runner and run a lot of trails and such, but i have not done much camping. I read that a “wilderness survival certification” is valueable to have when applying. Can i still get hired without it? Is it something the NPS offers to employees or applicants?
    I think that i would truely enjoy interacting with visitors. I am a good presenter and would enjoy giving talks, leading nature walks, and/or giving tours of parks.
    Working as a ranger is a career i can see myself devoting many years to. Any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for reading this.
    Jason, PA

    • Hi Jason —

      The 2007 edition of the Park Ranger Career Handbook is still current, with the exception of the salary tables which have been updated on the Ranger Careers website. When you purchase the handbook, you’ll be added to my email list and will receive updates on any changes that may occur.

      Don’t be intimidated by all the talk of “wilderness.” The Park Service is everywhere — small towns, big cities, remote outposts and islands. You’ll find a park that fits your comfort level. No “wilderness survival certification” is not required. If that’s not your cup of tea, then don’t worry about it. No matter what career path you choose, it’s important to be yourself. If you try to be something you’re not, you’ll just end up miserable.

      You sound like a natural born interpreter. Stay focused on your communication skills and interpersonal abilities. They’ll take you a long way.

  7. Hi,

    I wonder if one must be a Us Citizen to become a Park ranger?

    • Hey Camilla — Unfortunately, you do need to be a U.S. Citizen. This is what the OPM website has to say about this subject:

      United States citizenship is required for most Federal positions. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you cannot apply or be considered for most positions in the Federal government through the standard process as failure to provide your SSN when requested will result in your application not being processed. However, some agencies can and do hire non-citizens through special hiring procedures. If you are a non-citizen, you would need to contact agencies directly to find out if you are eligible for any positions that they may have, and also to find out how you will need to apply, as the application cannot be submitted via USAJOBS without a social security number. You can use the agency list at http://www.usa.gov/ to obtain contact information for each agency.

      Please also visit the following link for additional information: http://www.usajobs.gov/EI9.asp

  8. I know you have to complete the seasonal law enforcement training program at one of the nine colleges that offer it but I can’t find which they are, can you help me?

    • Kristi — Absolutely I can help you.

      The Park Ranger Career Handbook contains a complete list of the colleges that provide seasonal law enforcement training for the National Park Service.

  9. Hi Rob!
    Wow…I didn’t realize that there were so many of us aspiring park rangers out there! I’m 23 years old and I’ve just finished college with a degree in history. I’m currently living in France as an English teacher. I spent last summer working as a seasonal hire at Cabrillo National Monument and I’m looking to get hired on as a seasonal this summer as I’d really like to make the NPS my career. I’ve already had an interview with Klondike (unfortunately, they’ve already filled all of the positions) and I have an interview with Katmai later today (wish me luck!). The only reason I made it past HR for these two positions was because of my ability to speak French…I’ve applied to lots of other parks, but my application isn’t garnering enough points to get referred directly to the park. What can I do to make me look like a desirable candidate? Any tips would be most helpful! Thanks!

  10. Hi Rob,

    What a wonderful resource you provide to everyone. Job well done and you continue to be of service to your country and a source of inspiration, congratulations.
    Well here’s a little information about myself and a few questions for you.
    First I have been in the advertising business as a creative director my entire career but feel it’s time to give back and pass on the knowledge acquired.
    Growing up in the west, Arizona, Montana, Colorado I have always loved it’s history, it’s cultures, the outdoors and the wonderful critters that inhabit it. I feel a deep sense of belonging and respect for it’s environment and it’s preservation.
    In my younger years I was a guide/river pilot on the Colorado in the ‘Big Ditch’ ( Grand Canyon ). It was a wonderful experience I shall never forget, the people, the geology, the history, the flora and fauna, the sense of humbleness that the canyon bestowed upon all of us that ventured into it’s depths. I’ve seen people turn from attorneys, Dr.’s, truck drivers, accountants, etc. into just human beings in a couple weeks of experiencing the canyons magic.
    I have also attended classes in pottery analysis of the Anasazi and Hohokam cultures and became a ‘surveyor 1’ in archeology terms.
    With this knowledge I briefly was a NPS volunteer in Aztec National Park in NM. but when summer ended had to get back to the design career.
    I also designed the format for the NPS Grand Canyon newsletter years ago.
    As well as being a graphic designer, exhibit designer, photographer and film maker I feel I have much to offer the NPS.
    Said all of that I really enjoy the the interaction with people and the passing on of knowledge and hopefully inspiring all to learn more and contribute to the preservation of our natural environment and culture.
    Being an interpretive ranger I think would be the most fulfilling career change at this stage of my life that I can imagine.
    The big question is this, is it really possible and feasible to attain a permanent ranger position with the NPS or will it be a frustrating venture.?

    Thank you for your time and dedication to your passion.


  11. Hi,

    Myself and my partner are considering relocating from the UK to the US. My partner is currently in the RAF and im curious what experience, training he should try getting before we move out. He already has his firearms training along with first aid. Should he learn an additional language? I know he cannot become a ranger until he is classed as a citizen but all experience helps?

  12. Hey I just stumbled across your site today, and wanted to say thanks for this great resource.

    Im now one year out of college where I obtained a BS in Geography. I worked for 2 years on an EPA contract mapping sensitive shorelines on the Great Lakes and have since moved to New Mexico where I work for local government. I’m tired of sitting in my office all day, and have been kicking the Park Ranger idea around for quite some time now. I am stable in my current position so theres no rush, but what can I do to prepare myself for applying for that first opening? Training courses, first aid, wilderness survival, etc?

    I’m an avid snowboarder, I love to fish, Hike, camp, etc. I could see myself doing 20 years in the Park Service with no problems.

    Thanks again for the blog!


  13. I served as a National Park Ranger for more than 32 years. I have written a book based on my experiences that has been adopted by three universities as required reading for students studying to become park rangers. “A Park Ranger’s Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks.” You can find it on Amazon.com and other on line sources.
    I have also written on the topic of starting a career as a park ranger on my blog. You can check this out at http://www.aparkrangerslife.blogspot.com. If you go to the search window in the right hand side of the blog and type in “jobs” it will bring up several posts on the topic of finding jobs and requirements.

  14. I am 42 but served 3 yrs in the military am I still too old or there possibly an exception for a full time law enforcement officer. I am going to SLETP this summer to get my level II for the part time certification and I also have an education degree with a minor in Social Studies.

    thanks, Will J

    • You can still get your Level II commission and work as a seasonal ranger. But you won’t be able to obtain a permanent full-time law enforcement job with the NPS because of the 20-year retirement issue. You have to be able to retire with 20 years of service by age 58.

  15. Hi,

    I wanted to be a park ranger in Ontario and i was wondering if i needed french to do that? I took french in grade 9 and have not continued. I am now in grade 11 and i am worrying that my dream job might not be possible

  16. Hello! I am excited to find someone so passionate about the Park Service. I have an A.A.S In Wilderness Horsemanship and a B.S in Environmental Education. I would love to become a Park Ranger, specifically a mounted ranger. I want to be on horseback and I’m frustrated because it seems that horses must not really be used in the parks anymore. I found one place, Coronado and I believe it’s probably because they are on the border of Mexico. I have looked on the US jobs page as well but maybe I’m looking for the wrong description. Can you give me any advice?

    • I know there are horses being used in parks — Buffalo National River for one. But I don’t know of any easy way to find this information. You’d probably have to contact each park to find out. Suspect you’ll find more horses being used in the western parks.

  17. Hi rob. I have a 2 year degree in history education. I speak spanish and I taught English in South America for 3 years. I also worked in Yellowstone for 3 summers and in the Grand Canyon for 1 year with the concession companies there. I’m in my mid 30’s and I’m interested in becoming a Park Ranger. I fell in love with the Park life while working there. Does it hurt my chances of being hired if I’m not a veteran or with past military service? I hear that rumor from time to time. Why is the hiring process so stressful as you mentioned. Is there a lot of hiring from within or locally? Does it hurt my chances to be applying for a job on the other side of the country? Thanks for you assistance. Great website you’ve made here.

  18. Hi Rob,
    How wonderful to stumble across this site! I am rapidly approaching 24 years of military service & have struggled to determine what I’m to do after retirement in September 2011. After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that my passion/gift is history. I’ve been an “armchair historian” for many years now, but have no piece of paper stating such. I would love nothing more that to have a career as a Park Ranger, educating people about our great nation. I know that I’ve acquired many skills during my Air Force career, but how can I show that to the NPS (I was involved with C130 aircraft my whole career & held many posts)?
    Do you think it is possible to gain a position while pursuing my history degree? Unfortunately, I spent so many years on the road & overseas, I’ve quite a bit of college to complete.
    If I could get up every morning, go do something I really enjoy…at say, Gettysburg, Ft Pulaski or some other historic park…that is my dream. Kids today seem to have little or no appreciation of our rich history. How can we expect them to protect what they do not know?
    Thanks for this site and your service. I hope to wear the grey and green someday.

    • Hi Ray – Yes, it is definitely possible to gain employment with the National Park Service while you’re going to school. There are non-competitive appointment authorities that give students a big advantage in the hiring process. Good luck to you.

  19. It’s hard to search out knowledgeable individuals on this subject, however you sound like you understand what you’re talking about! Thanks

  20. Hello! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the good data you’ve got right here on this post. I will probably be coming again to your weblog for more soon.

  21. Hello,
    My name is raphael trull and I actually have asked all of thoes questions and would like to know the answer. My goal in life is to be a game wardden, and I figured a park ranger would be a good job to help me start towards that goal.

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