Wednesday, July 27, 2011

World Park Ranger Day

Sunday July 31st will be World Ranger Day.  This annual date is set aside to remind us all to pay tribute to the work around the world done by rangers to protect our earth's natural and cultural heritage.  And let us not forget those rangers and other employees of parks who have given their lives in the line of duty.

What is World Ranger Day?

World Ranger Day is observed on the 31st of July each year.
It is the day to commemorate the many Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty.
It is also the day to celebrate Rangers and the work they do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
World Ranger Day is promoted by the 54 member associations of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), by our partner the Thin Green Line Foundation, and by individuals who support the work of Rangers and the IRF.
The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Many Other Career Paths Available In Our National Parks

Another reader wrote asking for advice on pursuing a career as a park ranger.  This reader's concern was that they were starting this course at the age of 39.

I understand your frustration over age requirements for National Park Ranger jobs.  Unfortunately your age does prohibit you from qualifying for law enforcement or firefighting jobs with the NPS.  If that is the organization or resource you really dream to work for, I would recommend that you look at the myriad of other jobs in National Parks.  You could still work in resource management, as an interpretive park ranger, in maintenance, or administration.  Protection park rangers are actually a small percentage of the people who work in our parks.  To get a flavor of what types of jobs are available in parks, go to 

In the search window put type in "National Park Service" and you will most likely see a lot more than park ranger positions advertised.

If you are more interested in doing the work of a law enforcement park ranger or firefighter, then I would suggest the route you are following by looking at local and state agencies with the same or similar mission but different age requirements.  I know there are many outstanding state and local park agencies in this country that provide professional training and service in protecting the resources and people under their responsibly.

No matter who you are applying to work for, here are a few tips to keep you viable for employment as a park ranger:

Get all the related training you can on your own.  Look for emergency medical, incident command, and leadership training.  Much of this can be found on local levels with fire and rescue departments or colleges.

Get all the related experience you can on your own.  Look for opportunities through local public service organizations.

Maintain your physical fitness.  Even if the agency you are applying to does not have requirements, the job will demand immediate physical responses to a variety of situations.

Be as flexible as possible in your availability and choice of locations to work.  Many times you may get a foot in the door offer that may not be your first choice or one you ever considered.

Park Ranger Advice Request

This reader is concerned that his college degree is in engineering and that it would not qualify him for protection park ranger jobs.

The main qualifying point is that you have a college degree.  As long as you meet the minimum course requirements you should be fine.  During my career I have worked with fellow park rangers with degrees in nuclear physics, Russian Studies, Business Management, Communications, Hotel Motel Management, Education, Physical Education, Criminal Justice, English, Spanish, and many more majors that are not specifically related.  Now if you were applying for a specific job as an interpretive ranger or researcher in say a civil war park, they would definitely be looking for a history degree.  So I do not believe that your degree field will hamper you in any way.  In would think that your military and previous law enforcement experience will highly benefit you in the selection process far out weighing any concerns about your college major.

I am considering rescheduling my (seasonal law enforcement) training dates, meaning to go one semester later.  My reasoning is because I was recently hired on as an engineer for the Department of the Interior.  I am working for the Bureau of Reclamations.  I want to give this job at least a year before I head off to do something different.  I figure it would look back to take a job and then only six months later leave it.  Would it be wise to hold off for this non-related job?  And does prior work experience within the federal, especially the Dept. of Interior, help when applying to future seasonal LEO Park Ranger positions?

As to the job offer you have, is it a permanent status job?  If so, I think you are wise to pursue the course you have laid out.  Many times people will work for years as a seasonal park ranger never able to get into a permanent position.  With the Federal Government once you are permanent you are in for all agencies.  As an example, should you take the job offer you can transfer directly into a job with another agency without going through the Office of Personnel Management.  The application process is much easier.  You can also develop rehire status for any government jobs even if you leave the position.  I would recommend you check on the current standards, but when I was working if you worked one year in a permanent position you could still apply for any government job for one year after leaving.  If you worked three years, you had status for life.  The one drawback is that you may be competing with people having more direct park experience.  Some thoughts for you to consider.

  I am older than what many would be when they go into Park Ranger training.  I am 31.  Does my age hamper me in any way and would it be unwise to start a career as a seasonal officer at my age?  I know that the federal government has an age cut off of 37 for law enforcement careers. 

At 31 years of age you still have a pretty good window of opportunity to meet your plans.  The key for a law enforcement park ranger job is that you have to be hired and get to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center before you turn 37.  If you are a viable candidate with the prior experience, any manager that knows they can get you into training before your birth date will not hesitate to seriously consider you.