Sunday, July 3, 2011

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.  

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