Education and Training Requirements
To prepare for the necessary college course load, you should take courses in earth science, biology, and speech. Any classes or activities that involve plant and animal life, the weather, geography, and interacting with others will be helpful.
Employment as a ranger requires either a college degree or a specific amount of education and experience. Approximately 200 colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in park management and park recreation. To meet employment requirements, students in other relevant college programs must accumulate at least 24 semester hours of academic credit in park recreation and management, history, behavioral sciences, forestry, botany, geology, or other applicable subject areas.
Without a degree, you will need three years of experience in parks or conservation and you must show an understanding of what is required in park work. In addition, you must demonstrate good communications skills. A combination of education and experience can also fulfill job requirements, with one academic year of study equaling nine months of experience. Also, the orientation and training a ranger receives on the job may be supplemented with formal training courses.
To succeed as a ranger, you will need skills in protecting forests, parks, and wildlife and in interpreting natural or historical resources. Law enforcement and management skills are also important. If you wish to move into management positions, you may need a graduate degree. Approximately 50 universities offer master's degrees in park recreation and management and 16 have doctoral programs.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There are no certification or licensing requirements for park rangers.
Because most park rangers are government employees, candidates are usually required to complete a background check as well as drug testing before being hired.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
The completion of an internship at a park or nature center is recommended. Individuals looking to secure a federal position in the highly competitive National Park Service would do best to secure a bachelor's degree with a considerable amount of course work in natural resources and apply for an internship with the federal government.
As a park ranger, you should believe in the importance of the country's park resources and the mission of the park system. If you enjoy working outdoors, independently and with others, you may enjoy park ranger work. Rangers need self-confidence, patience, and the ability to stay levelheaded during emergencies. To participate in rescues, you need courage, physical stamina, and endurance, and to deal with visitors you must have tact, sincerity, a personable nature, and a sense of humor. A sense of camaraderie among fellow rangers also can add to the enjoyment of being a park ranger.