A park ranger has an important role to play in the National Park System in the US. Park Rangers are responsible for protection and conservation of natural resources, like forests, wildlife, woodlands, and sites of cultural importance.
A diverse and multifaceted career, park rangers are also called conservation scientists. They are required to manage the overall quality of forests, rangelands, parks, and other natural resources. Park Rangers responsibilities include preparing informational data about parks and wildlife, developing conservation programs, and enforcing park regulations. To become a park ranger, a minimum of an associate’s degree is required but in some areas, it’s mandatory to have a bachelor’s degree.

Education & Career Info

Education RequiredBachelor’s Degree
Training RequiredNone
Key SkillsCritical thinking, problem solving, reading comprehension, speaking
Job Growth (2020-2030)7% (Conservation Scientists and Foresters)
Average Median Salary (2020)$64,010 per year

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Park Ranger

To become a park ranger a bachelor’s degree is required in environmental science or forestry. While training is not a prerequisite, it will certainly help your chances in getting a good job. The following steps will guide you in how to become a park ranger.

Earn a College Degree

  • In most areas it is a must for candidates to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Park Rangers Bachelor’s Degree program includes different majors like wildlife biology, ecology, zoology, natural resource management, and life sciences.
  • Students in Park Rangers Bachelor’s Degree program mostly learn how to become park interpreters, management of outdoor recreation and parks, and Horticulture.
  • Students can also opt for advanced courses like natural sciences, archeology, public administration, law enforcement, and earth sciences.

Be Involved in a Volunteer Program

  • While it’s not mandatory to have any formal training or experience, candidates who are involved in volunteer work stand better a chance of landing a park ranger job.
  • It’s recommended to apply as volunteers while you are still pursuing your degree as it allows first-hand experience.
  • Seasonal work is also a great way to learn the ropes in the field.

Apply for Park Ranger Job

  • Before you start sending out job applications, determine which role suits you the best. There are different areas where you can apply in, like County Park Ranger, State Park Ranger, Seasonal/Temporary Park Ranger, US Territories Park Ranger, or Permanent National Park Ranger.
  • Each category comes with specific job description, so make sure you carry out thorough research before choosing a field.
  • After you submit the job application, there will be a background check and once you successfully pass the screening, on-the-job training will start.

Park Ranger Salary and Career Outlook

The National Park Service (NPS) as well as other states follow a strict pre-employment process which ensures that they hire the right person for the job. Park Rangers’ responsibilities focus on protecting and conserving natural resources, acting as first responders to natural or manmade threats to parkland.

As per BLS, the overall employment of park rangers is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030. On average, 4,000 openings in the field are projected per year. Below are the states with the highest employment level for conservation scientists in 2021.



Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts up to 7% increase in wages and employment opportunities for Conservation Scientists and Foresters between 2020 and 2030. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has placed park rangers in the same category as conservation scientists and foresters, reporting an average annual median salary of $64,010. Below are the top paying states for conservation scientists.


StateAnnual mean wage 
Minnesota$ 90,970
Alaska$ 89,360
District of Columbia$ 85,900
Hawaii$ 85,860
Massachusetts$ 85,330

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)