Park Ranger: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a park ranger. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Park rangers usually work for federal or state governments and are responsible for protecting woodlands, forests and conservatories. They often work outdoors and patrol campgrounds, trails and surrounding areas. Park rangers may conduct tours and answer questions from park guests. They also participate in search-and-rescue missions and make sure visitors follow fire and safety codes. Prospective park rangers should pursue a bachelor's degree in a field such as biology or forestry.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in forestry, biology, environmental sciences or other relevant field
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)1% for all conservation scientists*
Median Salary $32,997 (2014)**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Park Ranger Salary

According to PayScale.com, the median salary for park rangers in September 2014 was $32,997. Since most park rangers work for the government, they also have health care and pension plans on top of salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not maintain information on park rangers, but reports that the median wage for conservation scientists was $61,220 as of May 2013. The BLS notes that job openings for all types of conservation scientists are expected to increase at a slower-than-average rate of 1% 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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