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Park Ranger: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Park rangers are responsible for protecting national woodlands, forests and conservatories. They often work outdoors and patrol campgrounds, trails and surrounding areas. They also conduct search-and-rescues and make sure park visitors are following fire and safety codes.

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Park Ranger Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a federal forestry worker was $62,660 as of May 2013, although the median annual wage was $57,110. Since most park rangers work for the government, they also have health care and pension plans on top of salary. The BLS notes that job openings in this field are expected to increase a slower-than-average 6% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov).

Job Duties

The main responsibility of a park ranger is protecting and supervising designated outdoor areas. Park rangers patrol the grounds and make sure that campers, hikers and other visitors are following the rules--including fire safety regulations--and do not disrupt the natural environment or fellow guests. They might be responsible for giving guided tours or presentations of the park. They also work in the visitor center, providing guests with maps and areas of interest and areas that are off-limits. They might be called on to conduct search-and-rescue missions, initiate conservation efforts, help fight fires and enforce the law.

Education and Other Requirements

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a park ranger should attend a 4-year university and earn a bachelor's degree in a related field such as biology, environmental sciences or forestry. Holding a master's degree can also help one advance. Working at a park or completing a field session might be a requirement in order to graduate from either an undergraduate or graduate program.

Since park rangers spend the majority of their time outdoors, it is important for the individual to be physically fit and have strong communication skills. Individuals interested in becoming park rangers should be willing to relocate for a job and be able to work closely with their direct supervisors. Park rangers must have strong communication skills. Some states require further training beyond a bachelor's degree.

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