I received an email from a reader facing a job choice dilemma. He wants to be a Protection National Park Ranger and has signed up for a Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP) course. He has also received a conditional offer of a law enforcement job from another Federal Agency. He would prefer to be a Park Ranger and is seeking some advice to aid him in his decision making process.
I formulated a reply with several points he may want to consider when making a decision.
I can see your dilemma in the decision you may need to make. I cannot say which way to go on this would be best for you, only you can determine that, but here are a few points to consider in your decision making process.
· One of the most difficult aspects of getting a full time park ranger job is getting “Permanent Status” as a Federal employee. Many people work for years as a seasonal employees with no benefits or job security trying to obtain that status. Once you can achieve a permanent job, many doors will be open to you and pay and benefits will be more secure.
· Permanent Status applies across the board with Federal Agencies. Many people have worked as a seasonal employee with the National Park Service but then taken permanent jobs with other agencies just to get started on the permanent track. Then once you are in you can later transfer to permanent positions within the National Park Service.
· Transferring into the National Park Service from another agency would be enhanced if you have previous park ranger experience as a seasonal. Any type of resource protection experience would improve your chances of competing for a park ranger job at a later date.
· I do not know what agency has made you an offer, but you will want to know if it is a law enforcement position that is covered under Enhanced Law Enforcement Retirement or what is commonly referred to as 6 (c ) retirement. This would place the position in the same category as a protection National Park Ranger and once again make you administratively qualified for those positions. A position covered by these retirement benefits would better enable you to transfer into other law enforcement jobs within the Government as they become available.
With the job offer that you now have being conditional, I would recommend that you go ahead with your plans to attend the Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program. The knowledge and experience gained there would give you a head start on the basic training should you go with the other agency.
Hopefully this information will be helpful and I wish you luck in making your decision in your eventual chosen career path.