Can’t say as I blame you, because as a Park Ranger, I have the best job in the world, plus the hat.
I am a seasonal interpretive Park Ranger (you know gives talks and walks). Others that wear the “gray and green” include fee collectors, law enforcement, backcountry, maintenance, administration and more. And then there are Volunteer-in-Parks. I can only tell you about my job.
All government jobs are listed on usajobs.gov and the work is very competitive. Best if you have a college degree in something, or a lot of life experience. It’s a service related job requiring skills working with people. Working/volunteering at local nature centers looks good. Also check out this site http://idp.eppley.org/ to learn more about the federal agencies and job proficiencies.
Get your resume on the job’s site. After applying to as many parks as you think you’d like to work at, you wait. First your application is scored. If you’re a veteran you get extra points. Then you hope to make the cert. Months later you might get an availability call to see if you’re still interested. Then perhaps a follow up call for an interview. And finally, you hope, another call with a job offer. Some parks offer housing of various kinds, some have RV spaces. Urban parks may not offer housing. It’s not free but usually reasonable to the location.
I volunteered for a mycology study at Oregon Caves National Monument
If you don’t need the money, think about volunteering. Most parks are happy to have volunteers. You can often volunteer for a job you’d never get hired for. Plus it’s a good way to get your foot in the door. Again, every park is different and has different needs. Some offer free housing, a daily stipend, or just experience.
In costume for a living history program
Once at a park, training typically lasts two weeks. Every park is different. This is a time to learn everything you can possibly cram into your brain and hang on to. Plus there are programs to develop and that too varies at each park with how many and what topics. Many visitors see the Park Ranger like a walking Wikipedia. However, don’t think you’ll always be able to instantly Google an answer because quite frequently, especially in the rural west, you wont have cell service, 3Gs, 4Gs, or any Gs.
Seasonal Rangers make up the bulk of staff at many parks. The limitation is working no more than 1039 hours, about six months. Permanent jobs are even more difficult to get. Seasonals do not receive health or retirement benefits. You earn sick leave that accumulates and moves with you to any federal agency. And you earn annual leave/vacation which you typically don’t use much of during a 3-6 month season so it comes lump sum after your season is over.
Highly recommended read
Once you complete a successful season at a park with good evaluations you will typically be asked to return, but at their discretion and budget allowances. It’s certainly to the park’s advantage to have well trained returning Rangers.
From the web somewhere
To be an interpretive Park Ranger requires passion, devotion, a love to learn, share and meet people from around the world. You may be out in the best or worst of weather and terrain. Encounter wildlife or wild visitors. And you might occasionally get tired of hearing the same question after the 100th, or 1000th time. But you will get paid in sunsets.
What can you give back to the park?
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