Park ranger jobs
Being a park ranger is a very rewarding job. Based in some of the most beautiful parks and wildlife areas in the world, park rangers contribute to the conservation and protection of natural resources. Park rangers can work in places like:
national parks and forests
state, municipal or local parks
woodlands, forests or conservatories
urban historical sites
remote mountain posts
other protected areas.
There are many variations within the role of park ranger, depending on the country and location where the job is based. For example, the most common roles for a park ranger include law enforcement or resource management. But some park rangers might also focus on maintenance, conservation or guest services. In short, it depends on your experience, interest and the needs of the park where you end up working.
Are Park Rangers the same around the world?
The job title park ranger is often used widely around the world to mean different things. In this page we’re speaking more specifically about national park rangers or forest rangers, which you’ll commonly find in the USA or UK. This is different from game ranger, a term commonly applied to law enforcement and anti-poaching roles in Africa. The term ranger is also occasionally used interchangeably with field guide. See our pages on these different jobs for more details.
What qualifications do I need to become a Park Ranger?
Ranger jobs often have strict requirements for qualifications, sometimes including experience with firearms and law enforcement training. Expectations differ between countries, or even between states. In the USA, for example, each state has its own state parks authority, which determines the amount of experience and qualifications their park rangers need.
If you’re interested in a career as a park ranger, getting a general base of wildlife and nature knowledge is a good beginning. A course like Bushwise’s Professional Field Guide course is an excellent way to gain a base knowledge of ecosystems, natural environments, guiding and other skills that transfer easily into the role of park ranger.
How do I become a Park Ranger in the UK or USA?
Whether you want to be a park ranger in the USA, UK or elsewhere, the best way to start is by researching the requirements and expectations in your area. You might need to go through a training program or gain additional skills for your CV, to increase your chances of getting hired.
You’ll also want to understand the hiring process. In the USA, for example, park rangers work for the US government under the National Parks system. This means you apply through a central database for vacancies that are released throughout the year. In that case you’ll need to be very clear when writing your CV about your skills and how they translate into the role. Building connections with people in the industry is also very helpful. If you want to hear a personal story of someone who became a park ranger in the UK, check out this blog.
How much do Park Rangers get paid?
The answer to this question varies quite widely. Naturally there are entry-level park ranger jobs that pay lower wages, and as you work your way up in experience and tenure, your salary will also go up. In the UK the average annual salary (in 2022) for a park ranger was around £22,500. In the USA the average annual salary was about $40,000.
How can Bushwise help me become a Park Ranger?
While being a park ranger or forest ranger in the USA is very different from being a field guide in South Africa, it helps to have a foundational understanding and appreciation for wildlife, ecosystems and hosting guests. In this way, a Bushwise course can be quite helpful in your career if you want to become a ranger. If you’re interested in becoming a park ranger in South Africa, head over to our game ranger jobs page to learn more.
What responsibilities do Park Rangers have?
Park rangers assist in conservation and natural resource use. They may also act as law enforcement in a park or protected area. Responsibilities can include interacting with visitors, guiding tours, giving presentations, trail and invasive species clearing, and species population management. Rangers also patrol their area to ensure that guests are following regulations – like properly disposing of litter, being respectful of public property and keeping a safe distance from wildlife.