Job Duties and Responsibilities of a Park Ranger

Park Ranger Job

One of the most common jobs you can pursue with a forestry degree is that of a park ranger. Park rangers are in the conservation science and forestry field, and they can be hired by both government-owned parts and private parks. In both cases your duties will be extremely similar. Let’s take a look at the tasks you are expected to perform in this type of role.

Daily Tasks as a Park Ranger

Your overall goal as a park ranger is to ensure that visitors to the park are safe and happy, and that the natural environment is preserved. To do this, you’ll need to do inspections of the park (or part of the park) you service, reporting any problems like blocked trails and noting potential risks like overflowing rivers. You’ll also greet visitors, explain the rules of the park, enforce park rules, and if applicable, run nature centers or gift shops on the premise.

Seasonal Tasks as a Park Ranger

As the seasons change, you’ll also have certain responsibilities as a park ranger. Every spring, you’ll be responsible for checking trails and clearing them when necessary, as well as inspecting campsites and preparing the area for visitors. Maintenance during the summer and fall could include raking leaves from pathways, pruning overgrown plants, caring for buildings in the park such as shower facilities, and reporting on problems, like fires. When the weather starts to get cold, you’ll have winterizing tasks to do to prepare the area for the winter.

Emergency Tasks as a Park Ranger

Your goal as a park ranger, first and foremost, should be keeping visitors to the park safe. Emergency care is sometimes needed and you may be called upon to administer CPR or first aid, assist with search and rescue efforts, and help stop or contain forest fires. Park rangers are first responders, so it is also important for you to know the correct lines of communication and processes to take when there is an emergency. In addition, you will also be responsible for animal emergencies. This could include reporting or caring for wounded animals, trapping or tranquilizing sick or threatening animals, and removing animal carcasses if necessary. The goal is to leave the park as natural and undisturbed as possible, but you also need to make sure the grounds are safe and enjoyable for human visitors.

Other Common Jobs for Forestry Majors

In addition to working as a park ranger, you can also look into work as a conservationist, environmentalist, firefighter, and many other challenging professions. While you’re pursuing your degree in forestry, it’s a good idea to research the different areas of specialization available to you. That way you take the classes necessary to meet your career and academic goals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided a list of other jobs in the forestry field and their respective salaries. Check out the list below to learn more about what careers are available for someone with a forestry and wildlife conservation degree:

  • Agricultural Worker: $18,910
  • Conservation Scientist and Foresters: $59,060
  • Firefighters: $45,250
  • Forest and Conservation Technicians: $33,920
  • Ground Maintenance Workers: $23,970
  • Logging Workers: $33,630

Since heavily wooded areas are necessary for this position, relocation may be a possibility when you pursue this career. The states with the highest employment rates for foresters are California, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. There are also many forests and parks outside of major metropolitan areas. The highest paying cities for this job include Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland, OR, Fort Collins, Duluth, Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, and Hartford.

The jobs listed above are just a few of the many opportunities available to forestry students. If you’re not sure what you want to focus your studies on, meet with your adviser to learn about the different career options out there.

It’s important to learn as much as you can about forestry before applying to a program to ensure you’ve picked the right field. Meet with leaders in the field or apply for a summer internship to gain experience and network with other professionals. If you live near a national park, perhaps you can work as a visitor’s guide assistant or a seasonal maintenance worker. On-the-job training is an effective method for improving your skills and know-how. And the more you network and market yourself, the better your chances for finding a job after graduation. We’ve provided a brief overview of typical forestry degrees in the following section.

Featured Forestry Programs

Purdue University

Accreditation: HLC, NCA


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Ashford University

Accreditation: WSCUC


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Marylhurst University

Accreditation: NWCCU


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