CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a park ranger.

Step 1

Is becoming a park ranger right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do park rangers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are park rangers happy with their careers?
What are park rangers like?

Still unsure if becoming a park ranger is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a park ranger or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

Seasonal & Voluntary Work

Seasonal and voluntary work exposes aspiring park rangers to the profession and offers them opportunities to experience some aspects of the career first hand.

To explore a variety of such opportunities, visit:

While an internship, seasonal position, or volunteer post with the above agencies and associations is highly sought after, valid experience can also be gained by working or volunteering at museums, historical sites, monuments, or municipal parks.

Step 3

Bachelor’s Degree

Most park ranger positions require at least a Bachelor’s Degree.

Many prospective park rangers pursue a bachelor's degree related to conservation, biology, botany, ecology, forestry, geology, or law enforcement. Some of the most relevant academic majors are:

Step 4

Basic Requirements

In addition to completing the appropriate education, to work in the United States prospective park rangers must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Possess a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Undergo a background investigation
  • Take and pass the Physical Efficiency Battery (PEB)
  • Take and pass a medical exam
  • Take and pass a drug test
Step 5

In-Service Training & Qualification

There is considerable in-service or on-the-job training required to become a full-fledged, qualified park ranger. In Maryland, for example, mandatory training includes the following:

  • Completion of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development Welcome Center National Certification
    Training Program, which provides knowledge of the geography and history of the state
  • Work for six months under the mentorship of a ranger mentor/trainer and go through at least one performance cycle before being promoted to the title of Maryland Park Ranger
  • Pass an in-service test on Maryland Park Service and Park Ranger History
  • Complete a two-day Introduction to Search and Rescue course
  • Become certified in CPR and First Responder through attendance at a 40-hour entry level in-service training
  • Complete two online Incident Command courses
  • Attend Seasonal Interpretation School, interpretive in-service classes, Scales & Tales or other related training in natural, cultural and historical interpretation
  • Complete the NAI Certified Interpretive Host training in hospitality and visitor service skills
  • Complete Ranger School, Stewardship School or Operations School
  • Complete three Professional Maintenance Workshops
  • Complete a six-hour Voluntary Compliance Course
  • Elective trainings required (must demonstrate proficiency in at least five areas; examples include EMT certification, wildlife fire training, fundamentals of search and rescue, Red Cross Lifeguard Management Certification, pesticide applicator license, heavy equipment operator license)

For detailed information specific to each U.S. state, visit the Careers section of the Park Ranger Education website.

Rangers who wish to work as a law enforcement park ranger need to complete the Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program.

Step 6