Park Ranger: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a park ranger. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education requirements. Schools offering Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Park Ranger?

Park rangers ensure that parks are properly maintained and that the people who visit the parks are safe. Park rangers may work as fish and game wardens, foresters, or wildlife biologists. The job duties of park rangers may include enforcing laws, managing land and resources, and monitoring forests and wildlife. Park rangers may also be responsible for suppressing wildfires and developing conservation plans. The following chart provides an overview about park ranger careers.

Fish and Game Warden Forester Wildlife Biologist
Degree Required High school or equivalent or undergraduate degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Biology, natural resources management Forestry, environmental science Zoology and wildlife biology, ecology, biology
Key Responsibilities Enforce hunting, boating and fishing laws; investigate accidents; conduct search and rescue operations Manage forest lands, timber, and resources; make sure forestry and conservation practices conform to laws; participate in wildfire suppression; monitor and manage forest health and regeneration Observe, analyze, monitor and manage wildlife populations; develop conservation plans; collect and analyze specimens; conduct experiments; explain findings in scholarly articles, reports and papers
Licensure or Certification None Some states require state registration as forester; Society of American Foresters offers certification None
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% 8% 4%
Median Salary (2015)* $52,780 $58,230 $59,680

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Does a Park Ranger Do?

Different park rangers will have different duties. For example, a wildlife park ranger is responsible for preserving ecosystems for flora and fauna, while a law enforcement park ranger works to keep parks safe and free of crime. Many park rangers not only physically maintain parks, but they're also active behind the scenes in the administration of parks.

What Education Do I Need?

The type of education that you'll need as a park ranger depends on the type of park ranger you want to be. For example, if you want to become a law enforcement park ranger, you'd typically need to attend a police academy. Some park ranger jobs require you to have a bachelor's degree in any field.

You could also consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in forestry or a related field. A few subjects that you can expect to cover in a typical bachelor's degree program in forestry are urban forestry, fire control, sustainable land, forest management and plant biology. You may also continue your education in a graduate program in forestry to further increase your desirability to employers and the level at which you can enter the profession.

What Is the Job Market Like?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of forestry professionals and conservation scientists work for the government on the federal, state and local levels (www.bls.gov). For this reason, the vast majority of job growth for park rangers is in government jobs.

The amount of money you stand to earn as a park ranger depends upon the position you hold. As of May 2015, BLS reported that wildlife biologists with pay in the 25th-75th percentile range made $47,950-$75,040. Meanwhile, foresters in the same range made $47,350-$70,660 and fish and game wardens made $42,780-$64,870.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Careers that also require a bachelor's degree include those of environmental scientists and soil and water conservationists. Environmental scientists study the environment and use the data they collect to find solutions to environmental problems such as climate change and pollution. Soil and water conservationists develop ways to protect and manage soil and water.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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