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.


  1. Hi Bruce,
    I tried to comment a week ago, but don't see it so will try again.
    Wanted to let you know that I'm enjoying the blog... I'm the mother of a NPS ranger and soon to be Rockbridge County resident. Hope to see you around town!

  2. I am now working at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden in Lexington, Va. When you get to town look me up.

  3. I currently applied to over 30 park ranger jobs across the country. As an archaeologist, I am hoping there is a possible use for me. I am keeping my fingers crossed