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what type of school do I need to go to to become a park ranger?


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Simon’s Answer

Hi Keegan,

While simultaneously thinking about this specific career path, I also recommend focusing in on your broader interests: working outdoors, managing natural resources, focusing on wildlife, serving a community, and so on. A mix of solid academic foundation coupled with meaningful and engaging extracurricular activities will allow you to explore appropriately while also building up skills and experiences that will be useful and relevant to you in future.

In answer to you question and in connection to the above, you want to pick a college experience that will give you the most valuable education both in and out of the classroom. A bachelor's degree in any related field is a solid starting point: ecology, wildlife management, geography, environmental studies, and so on. A school that offers plenty of opportunities to help you find internships, get involved with student organizations, engage in research, attend field trips, and engage in civic engagement activities will be something to focus on. You may also want to consider the size and location of the university or college to assess what most fits the kind of learning environment you would prefer. There are many options out there, but those choices are personal and as long as you are a productive and academically successful student, you will end up well-primed for your chosen career path.

I hope that's useful and good luck!

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Kent’s Answer

Hi Keegan,

Yes - the other answers do a good job in first steps - what is a park ranger and where to start looking for what is desired in candidates. But I noticed your hashtag says "wildlife". To be clear - I think people often mistake what park rangers do or what different professions within natural resources do. To me - often Park Rangers are folks that manage people in parks whether state, federal, or local. From being helpful with information about the park being visited to regulations and law enforcement. Typically - wildlife (surveys etc.) are a very small part of their job. And typically wildlife work is done by wildlife biologists (my background). For a wildlife profession - the best route is to select a university that has an actual wildlife program for a bachelors of science. Some universities don't have one, but have a way that you can put together a program that mirrors a wildlife program . Wildlife is more or different than biology - but includes a ton of biology classes (e.g. ornithology, mamalogy, ecology, botany, etc.). Wildlife also includes management techniques, population dynamics, diseases, etc. One would normally need to continue on to a wildlife graduate school for a masters in science. I would think that a good route to being a ranger is a university that has a natural resources college and a degree in parks and recreation.

Good luck!

kent

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Caren’s Answer

Take a look at state universities located in states with a high percentage of national parks and wildlife reserves, and schools with strong agricultural programs (these are normally state schools as well). There will be more opportunities for internships, co-ops and jobs from those schools and in those locations.

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Pak’s Answer

Hi:

It appears that Park Rangers need to have a minimum of a BA degree to work. Park Rangers typically have a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences such as botany, zoology, geology, environmental studies, or ecology.

The following website provides useful information on what the National Park Service looks for in candidates.

https://www.parkrangeredu.org/

You can also consider volunteering or participating in an internship with the NPS to gain experience and observe first-hand what the job entails. The NPS site has lots of useful information: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/workwithus.htm

Cheers,

PW

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Joseph’s Answer

I am happy that you are interested in this field because I believe our parks are something we need to make a priority and I donate to the Parks and Wildlife fund.
To answer your question is difficult because Park Rangers do so many things. Please go to What is a Park Ranger? at https://www.environmentalscience.org/career/park-ranger

This will help you get the answers you need. It states the salaries of the different positions and once you decide which specific job you are interested in you will know which courses to take to prepare you.

Good luck!

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