Park Rangers work in parks at the county, state and national levels. They perform duties to protect natural resources and historical and cultural monuments while educating the public with information about the park. A college degree is not always necessary because experience plays a big role in qualifying for a park ranger position. But jobs can be competitive in some parts of the country, so a college degree can make a difference when applying.
A bachelor's degree can give a park ranger applicant a leg up on the competition. A four-year degree can be either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, depending on what kinds of duties a student wants to perform as a park ranger.
An interpretive park ranger speaks with the public about the park and its natural, historical and cultural features. This type of park ranger can benefit from a Bachelor of Arts degree that focuses on history and humanities.
A protective park ranger works in the park to maintain and protect the natural resources found there. This often includes scientific knowledge of plants, animals and fish. A Bachelor of Science degree in areas of study such as natural sciences, biology or environmental studies is a major asset.
Education in the sciences, specifically natural sciences, will benefit any park ranger. Natural sciences focus on plants and wildlife, the environment and how they all work together to thrive in the world. It also includes education about dangers to the natural environment, like invasive species and pollution, and how to protect the kinds of resources found in park lands. In some cases, higher education in sciences may be required for a park ranger to be promoted in the parks service system.
At local, state and national parks that are created around a historical or cultural site, park rangers are more likely required to have knowledge about the history of the park and events that took place there. College study in American history in general, or a specific area of American history, can make someone an ideal candidate for a ranger who gives educational presentations to park visitors. Specific areas of history that can be useful include colonization, American battles and battlegrounds, Native American culture and history, and westward expansion.
Some park rangers specialize in law enforcement education and training. These rangers' duties include enforcing rules and laws within the parks. Some parks with vast tracts of woods and secluded lands have become grounds for illegal marijuana growers. Many of these growers will protect their plants by any means necessary, so park rangers with law enforcement qualifications become key when coming across illegal activity such as marijuana growing. Special training is required for park rangers who want to carry a gun. Some law enforcement is less dangerous, like crowd control for events or enforcing camping rules and regulations.
- Photo Credit park ranger image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com
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