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 week’s spotlight is on the Wilderness Permit Park Ranger position, which actually does sound like exactly what is, but is one that people might think is above their skill level. However, it’s the job that the majority of my friends have used to get their foot into the door.
The Job: It will usually fall under Park Ranger (Wilderness Permits) or Park Ranger (Interpretation)
The Location: Any public land with wilderness that has been authorized for backcountry use.
The Schedule: Usually summer only, although winter and year-round jobs do exist. When issuing permits, your schedule is usually a 9/4/5 schedule where 9 hours are worked a shift and you alternate between working four and five days each week. In addition to issuing permits in, you are required to do some backcountry patrols that can be just a short overnight trip, or many days in a row.
Experience required: You must posses at least a wilderness first responder or an EMT. You also must have knowledge of wilderness travel and Leave No Trace principles. Being physically fit is not necessarily required, but strongly recommended for this job.
The Duties: Issuing wilderness permits for overnight visitor use. Explaining the rules and Leave No Trace policies. Helping to assess skill and plan backcountry trips accordingly for visitors. Patrolling backcountry while reducing trash and illegal fire rings. Checking and verifying accurate permits while in the backcountry. Participating with search and rescue operations when necessary.
This job is for you if: You enjoy wilderness and talking to people. Can work in all types of environments. You are not afraid of wildlife encounters. You enjoy solitude and can handle it for long periods of time.
This job is not for you if: You can’t hike 10 or more miles a day with an over 30 pound pack over strenuous terrain. If you can’t handle yourself independently if all kinds of varying situations, including emergencies. If you aren’t comfortable being completely alone, sometimes for days on end or if you aren’t capable of working in inclement weather.
The most frustrating part of the job: Being unable to give visitors the exact permits they want for their trip. Witnessing all the Leave No Trace violations that come from people not using natural resources correctly in the backcountry, and having to clean up their mess.
The most rewarding part of the job: Helping visitors enjoy safe overnight visits, and helping them plan backcountry trips they have only dreamed of taking. Getting paid to explore remote locations and watch sunsets over backcountry lakes, peaks, and meadows.