Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seasonal Park Ranger Application Tips

I have had several people write to me and ask questions at book events about applications for seasonal park ranger positions.  As I have noted before, most of the applications for this coming spring and summer seasons in National Parks are due in January.  Many job announcements for such positions are starting to show up at:

I would recommend visiting this site regularly to find any jobs you may be interested in.  Each announcement will have specific instructions on how to file your application.
Here are a few tips I have been passing around;

Consider that the first reading of your application that determines whether it gets passed on to a hiring supervisor or not will be done by someone who thinks they know everything but in truth know very little about being a park ranger.  That should be the initial audience that you are writing for.  That may sound a bit negative, but I ran into the situation of Human Resources clerks putting people that I knew were good individuals and highly qualified below others on scored lists.  The reason generally was the result of an application that did not include key words or phrases that evaluators are looking for.

Toot your own horn because no one else will.  Experienced seasonal park rangers tend to be overly modest in applying for jobs. I believe this is the result of their experience giving them a better insight of what the job requires than an inexperienced person possess.  They then tend to measure themselves to a higher standard and thus demean their level of know-how and ability in writing.  Do not fall into this trap.

Apply to multiple parks.  It is always a mistake to put all your eggs in one basket.  Do not overlook the lesser known, smaller, and urban areas and parks.  These locations in some cases hire more seasonals or have more turn over from past staff from the summer before.  The urban parks in many cases offer more opportunities for eventual permanent status since they also have more turn over in those types of positions. 

Are you a member of the Association of National Park Rangers?  At their annual Rendezvous they generally have Human Resources folks from Washington available to sit down and review applications with seasonal employees.  ANPR also provides mentoring programs, networking opportunities and training in leadership that is open to all members not just those nominated by supervisors.  Check out their website at:

Go to the search window to your right on this site and type in “jobs.” To read past posts on this topic.

Good luck pursuing a career as a National Park Ranger.


  1. Ranger Bytnar,
    I'm hoping for a seasonal position in Independence NHP this summer. I very much enjoy your blog!

    What, in your experience are evaluators looking for - is it things like "proactive" or "sensitive to diversity issues" or "team player" (I'm a public high school teacher and those always seem to be in vogue in my profession)

    Any tips or suggestions? Thanks again for sharing your experiences with all of us!

  2. I think your key words are good. I would also stress public speaking, preparation of formal and informal presentations, knowledge of educational requirements such as what we call in Va. Standards of Learning (SOL's). You may want to address presentations and classes presented to diverse students. These are all experiences that play to the strengths of your teaching background and education. Some of the best seasonals I ever worked with during my career were teachers.

    Best of luck in your pursuit of a Park Ranger job this summer and have a great Christmas.