As previously covered in an earlier blog, searching the USAjobs website can get confusing. There are hundreds of jobs out there and their job titles might not sound anything like what the position actually entails. Even though you now know how to search for jobs according to their series and grade, you might be thrown off by the jobs that your search comes up with. For the next several months, I am going to be spotlighting specific starter positions within our public lands that you might not necessarily think to apply to. However, these are jobs that you should be applying to, as they offer an excellent foot into the door in the forestry field. This month’s spotlight is on the Education Technician position. While not every park or public land offers this position, it can be a great way to get your foot in the door in our nations biggest parks, especially if you like kids. Special Thanks to Ranger Joshua Contois from Great Smoky Mountains National Park for helping us out with this month’s spotlight!
The Job: Education Technician aka “Education Ranger”
The Location: Parks and other public lands with a nearby community and/or higher visitation.
The Schedule: Typically M-F, 8-4:30. Weekends and holidays off
Experience Required: 4 year degree, experience working with the public, especially kids.
The Duties: The primary duties of an education technician are to provide curriculum based education programs to local communities. These programs can take the form of Parks as Classrooms (visits to the park), Parks in Classrooms (visits to the school), or special community outreach events with groups such as Boys and Girls Clubs or National Junior Ranger Day. Ed Techs usually have collateral duties that include manning the visitor center desk, conducting interpretive programs, and mentoring/training interns. Many newer positions are placing an emphasis on incorporating technology and creating distance learning materials.
This job is for you if: You’re extroverted, enjoy working with kids, are creative, and can be adaptable to changing conditions.
This job is not for you if: You dislike kids or repetition. Much of the job involves conducting the same program every day for multiple weeks. Also not a good job for someone who is too “serious.” You have to be willing to get goofy and/or embarrassing, especially around kindergarteners.
The most frustrating part of the job: Scheduling. Some teachers get very insistent about how they expect things to be handled. Other times it’s a week of phone tag before the arrangements can be made. The second most frustrating part of the job is learning the programs. Often times, new employees might only have a week or two to learn programs before being asked to perform them. This can be especially difficult if the new employee isn’t completely familiar with the resource.
The most rewarding part of the job: Seeing a child “get it.” Watching students make a tangible connection to the resource. Hearing kids say “I want to be a ranger.” Having parent chaperones genuinely thank you. Having students genuinely thank you. Getting to make silly faces and bad puns.