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Delaware Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Park ranger jobs in Delaware combine law enforcement duties with duties related to protecting the state’s natural resources and environment. These types of jobs may be available within the National Park Service or the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation’s Division of Parks and Recreation.

The first step on the State of Delaware’s park ranger career ladder is to become a DNREC Enforcement Trainee. According to the Delaware Office of Management and Budget, as of 2011 the salary for this position started $28,318 annually, climbing to a midpoint of $31,138 per year.

Steps to Becoming a Park Ranger with the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation

State park ranger jobs are offered through the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (DNREC)’s Division of Parks and Recreation. These jobs are listed under the title DNREC Enforcement Trainee (Park Ranger) and are entry-level jobs within the division.

Education and Experience Prerequisites for Delaware Park Ranger Jobs:

Applicants for Delaware Park Ranger jobs may fulfill DNREC’s education and experience prerequisites through one of the following methods:

  • Possess an associate degree or higher in sociology, environmental science, natural resources, criminal justice or a related major;

OR

  • Possess a high school diploma/GED AND six months of work experience in the following areas:
    • Narrative report writing
    • Applying natural resources laws, regulations, rules, procedures, policies and standards
    • Experience in conducting investigations including gathering evidence, conducting interviews and documenting information

Prerequisites for Delaware Park Ranger Jobs:

  • Must be at least 20 ½ years old
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license
  • Must pass pre-employment drug testing
  • Must pass a criminal background check
  • Must pass a psychological/psychiatric exam
  • Must pass a physical ability test
  • Must pass a written exam
  • Must agree to join a labor organization/collective bargaining union and pay dues

After submitting a job application, applicants will be notified of the time, place and date of the mandatory DNREC Enforcement Trainee written examination that must be passed before the process continues.

The exam is offered by the State of Delaware Human Resources at:

  • New Castle County – Carvel State Office Building – Wilmington
  • Kent County – Haslet Armory- Dover
  • Sussex County – Delaware Technical and Community College – Georgetown

A study guide for the exam is available here. The exam content includes:

  • Writing skills
  • Reading comprehension
  • Public relations

Training for Delaware Park Ranger Jobs:

If hired as a DNREC Enforcement Trainee (Park Ranger) in Delaware, the first step of training is to complete the Police Basic Training Course at an academy approved by the Delaware Council on Police Training. Currently, six state agencies are approved to offer this training:

  • Delaware River and Bay Authority Police Department
  • Dover Police Department
  • Newark Police Department
  • Wilmington Department of Police
  • New Castle County Police
  • Delaware State Police

This training will consist of courses including (but not limited to):

  • Identifying mental illness
  • Incident management
  • Firearms training
  • Driving for police officers
  • Community relations
  • Physical training
  • Equipment management

Once a trainee/park ranger has completed this training, he or she will be given a Delaware Council on Police Training Basic Training Certificate. To maintain this certificate, a park ranger must complete 16 hours of continuing education annually.

Training for DNREC Enforcement Trainees will continue on-the-job for at least six months. If successful, the trainee will be promoted to a DNREC Enforcement Officer I.

Becoming a Park Ranger with the National Park Service in Delaware

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service is responsible for the following national parks and recreational areas in Delaware:

  • Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail
  • First State National Monument
  • Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network
  • Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail

Federal park rangers in Delaware must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a current, valid Delaware driver’s license
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Meet experience or education qualifications for GS5-level park ranger jobs through one of the following:
    • Have one year of specialized experience in:
      • Parks and recreation management
      • Law enforcement
      • Wildlife and management
      • Administrative, scientific or technical work

OR

    • Have a bachelor degree with at least 24 semester hours of related courses

OR

    • Have an equivalent combination of education and experience

Delaware Park Ranger Salaries

In Delaware, park rangers are employed through the Division of Parks and Recreation, which is actually a part of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The Division is responsible for maintaining 15 state parks which account for more than 20,000 acres statewide.

Delaware park ranger salaries vary as there are several capacities in which they work. In fact, their role often includes a mixture of interpretive and law enforcement responsibility.

Here are some of the career opportunities, including respective salaries, among park rangers in Delaware:

Museum/Historic Site Interpreter

  • Minimum: $27,458
  • Mid: $34,323
  • Maximum: $41,188

Park Manager

  • Minimum: $38,515
  • Mid: $48,144
  • Maximum: $57,773

Park Superintendent

  • Minimum: $44,094
  • Mid: $55,117
  • Maximum: $66,140

Park Administrator I

  • Minimum: $50,485
  • Mid: $63,106
  • Maximum: $75,727

Park Administrator II

  • Minimum: $61,848
  • Mid: $77,310
  • Maximum: $92,772

Additional entry-level salary data is shown in the tables below. This includes various titles that park rangers in various roles are recognized:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Delaware

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Dover DE
110
26270
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
550
26300
Sussex County Delaware nonmetropolitan area
140
26870

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Delaware

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
340
26890

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Delaware

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
240
17830
Sussex County Delaware nonmetropolitan area
160
25710

Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park sits on 5,193 acres and is an ideal destination for family and friends who are looking for a beach getaway. The ocean and beach provide plenty of swimming and sunbathing opportunities while the Great Dune, a landscape of magnificent sand dunes that rises 80 feet above sea level, is always a crowd pleaser given its sheer size. Along the western part of Cape Henlopen State Park is a marshland that is home to a variety of wildlife, including the osprey. Park visitors can climb one of the renovated observation towers for breathtaking and unparalleled views of the Delaware coastline.

Individuals who wish to apply to become park rangers in Cape Henlopen State Park may do so through the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (DNREC). The park ranger position is also listed as a “DNREC Enforcement Trainee,” an entry-level position that falls under the department’s Parks and Recreation Division.

Park Ranger Job Duties at Cape Henlopen State Park

To ensure the safety of park visitors, the wildlife and vegetation, one of the primary duties of park rangers in Cape Henlopen State Park is to ensure that the park’s rules and regulations are followed. For example, the park’s campsites are governed by a set of guidelines that involves the prohibition of chopping down trees or otherwise damaging vegetation.  Noise levels must also be kept down between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Cape Henlopen State Park also features several cabins for visitors who prefer to spend the night with a roof over their heads. Park rangers ensure that each cabin has a maximum of 6 persons and that at least one of them is 21 years of age. Pets are not allowed inside cabins or anywhere in the cabin area. Cooking and smoking inside cabins is also prohibited. Park rangers also make sure that visitors do not set up tents, RV’s and other camping units anywhere in the cabin area.

Park rangers in Cape Henlopen State Park also perform regular vehicle and foot patrols in their assigned regions. In cases of criminal activity, park rangers are expected to conduct thorough investigations and bring perpetrators into custody.

Cape Henlopen State Park’s Recreational Features

  • Fort Miles Historical Area. Fort Miles played a key role in coastal defense during the World War II. In 2005, the site was included in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Fort Miles is one of the biggest attractions in Cape Henlopen State Park.  History buffs, students, families and veterans flock to Fort Miles to learn more about events that took place on the Delaware shores. Park rangers provide visitors with directions, operating hours and other pertinent information.
  • Seaside Nature Center. The park’s Nature Center, which features a wide variety of displays and exhibits, including five 1000-gallon tanks that contain different species of local fish, is an ideal destination for visitors who are interested in marine life. Park rangers ensure that visitors abide by the center’s guidelines when interacting with the animals. The Friends Park Pedal program offers bicycles for rent.
  • Outdoor Activities. Visitors at Cape Henlopen State Park can also enjoy horseback riding, biking, hiking, fishing, swimming and kayaking. Aside from making sure that visitors abide by the park’s safety and eco-friendly rules, it is a park ranger’s duty to patrol all outdoor recreational areas and respond to accidents and injuries.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network

The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network are so vast that they stretch into Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the state of Delaware. Each of these areas features a “gateway” from which the Chesapeake Bay can be accessed. In Delaware, Trap Pond State Park and Seaford Museum are both gateway sites, while the Nanticoke River Water Trail serves as a connecting water trail.

In total, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network is composed of over 170 wildlife refuges, trails, parks, museums and historic communities. With its immense terrain, it’s not surprising that Chesapeake offers an abundance of activities that visitors can enjoy—from kayaking and canoeing on the Nanticoke River Water Trail to exploring the swamps of Trap Pond State Park.

Park Ranger Duties in Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network

Federal park rangers in Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network have a wide range of responsibilities, but their core duty is to provide visitor services. Park rangers spend a sizable amount of time in the field, guiding visitors on walking tours and supervising other recreational and educational programs. Rangers also perform regular site monitoring to both protect and preserve the park’s resources.

Park rangers are assigned to various locations within the park and their primary duties generally depend on their designated area. For example, some rangers may be assigned as staff at the park’s store outlets, where their job is to handle retail transactions. Others may wind up at the park’s visitor center, where they are expected to handle visitor’s questions, inquiries and other concerns.

Park rangers also play a key role in the park’s public relations. Aside from leading recreational activities, park rangers are expected to maintain favorable relations with stakeholders, vendors and other individuals and organizations affiliated with the park itself. Amongst the park ranger’s most common duties is law enforcement and making sure that all visitors comply with the park’s guidelines. There are some instances where this duty may mean dealing with troublesome visitors who can become hostile or violent. Park rangers are expected to have sufficient knowledge of the protocol applicable to dealing with these types of guests.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Features

Delaware’s gateways to the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network offer plenty of enjoyable and educational activities for visitors. It is the park ranger’s duty to oversee these activities and provide protection to the gateways’ resources and visitors.

Beginning just above Seaford City and winding through Sussex County is the Nanticoke River Water Trail. The river’s expanse covers 26 miles and offers a point of entrance to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Nanticoke’s flora and fauna are a must-see for anyone visiting this part of the state. The terrain features freshwater marshes and abundant forests. Due to the splendor of the river and its surrounding environment, many visitors come to the water trail to explore the area through boating and kayaking. Park rangers patrol the area and share the highlights of Nanticoke’s history, culture and natural resources with visitors. Inclement weather may bring about strong tidal currents and it is the park ranger’s duty to provide safety information and guidelines to visitors.

With clumps of second-generation bald cypress tress towering over its swamps, Trap Pond State Park is also a part of Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. This park offers its own array of recreational activities, all of which are also supervised by park rangers. Such activities include boating, kayaking, fishing, picnicking and a chance to spend some time “roughing it” in the park’s campground.

First State National Monument

Established on the 25th of March 2013, First State National Monument is the first National Park Service unit in Delaware. The monument serves as a tribute to Delaware’s rich colonial history, including its role as the first state to ratify the constitution.

Historically, Sweden, the Netherlands and Great Britain all competed for dominance in Delaware. The confluence of three colonizing powers, combined with the traditions of Native American inhabitants, gives Delaware its distinct and diverse culture. Although the unit’s primary location is in Delaware, some parts extend as far as Pennsylvania.

Today, First State National Monument features five sites: New Castle Green, New Castle Court House Museum, Woodlawn Tract, Dover Green and Sheriff’s House in New Castle.

Park Ranger Job Duties at First State National Monument

Visitor services are at the core of a park ranger’s responsibilities in First State National Monument. Park rangers work with a team to plan, organize and carry out educational programs, presentations and recreational activities within the park. Duties range from manning the visitor center and responding to visitor inquires to leading guided walks and facilitating other outdoor activities.

First State National Monument park rangers:

  • Are tasked with regularly patrolling and monitoring their designated areas to ensure that the park’s resources are protected at all times
  • Engage in research work to better understand First National Monument’s history and environment, which leads to enhancing visitors’ park experience.
  • Are responsible for enforcing the park’s rules and regulations. In some cases, this may involve dealing with difficult or even downright hostile individuals
  • Provide assistance in medical emergencies, criminal activities and other critical situations in the park.

First State National Monument Highlights

First State National Monument is an ideal destination for anyone who is interested in American history or simply Delaware’s colorful past. Popular attractions include:

  • New Castle Courthouse Museum – A National Historic Landmark, the New Castle Courthouse Museum is one of the oldest enduring courthouses in the United States. This courthouse dates back to 1732 but the original courthouse that stood on the site was built as far back as the 1660’s.  The courthouse offers visitors a chance to experience a piece of Delaware’s living history . In June 15, 1776, the last Colonial Assembly gathered in this very courthouse to adopt a resolution that severed all ties to the English crown and Philadelphia, therefore establishing New Castle as the first state capital.  Park rangers are standing by to provide visitors with more historical information about the history of the courthouse and the significance of the events that have taken place there.
  • Dover Green – The Dover Green Historic District has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. It is the site of the Golden Fleece Tavern, where the US Constitution was ratified by delegates. Even though the tavern is long gone, Dover Green is still home to several historically notable buildings, including the Kent County Court House, Park-Ridgely House and the Eagle Tavern. Park rangers monitor the area and guide visitors through the buildings on-site, educating them about the areas rich history, as well as its significance.
  • Woodlawn Tract – Located three miles north of Wilmington is Woodlawan Tract, which lies adjacent to Brandywine Creek State Park. Woodland Tract features 1,100 acres of pastureland and pristine woods and features some original Quaker homes that date back to the late 1600’s. The area is also the site of the 12-mile arc, Delaware’s unusual border that separates it from Pennsylvania. The hiking trails located within Woodland Tract are patrolled by park rangers to ensure that visitors do not get lost.  They are also on standby to assist with medical emergencies.

Killens Pond State Park

Situated at the center of Kent County, Delaware is Killens Pond State Park. In the heart of the park is a millpond that stretches across 66 acres and dates back to the late 1700’s. Before the millpond was created, the surrounding hardwood forest and the Murderkill River served as the homeland of Native American tribes and was the site for their hunting activities. According to popular legend, the Murderkill River obtained its name from an event that took place in 1648, when a Dutch trading party was massacred by the local tribe. With its serene pond, cozy campgrounds and vast recreational spaces, today’s Killens Pond State Park is a clear contrast to this menacing legend.

Park Ranger Duties in Killens Pond State Park

Park rangers are instrumental in the enforcement of rules and regulations within Killens Pond State Park. For example, quiet hours at the campsite and cabin areas are between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Park rangers patrol these areas to ensure there are no noisy activities or other disturbances during this time period.  There are also instances when campers arrive late on their campsite. It is the park rangers’ duty to help latecomers sign in the next day with the campground to register, as well as ensure they respect campers who are already set up.

Fishing in the salt water and fresh water areas is one of the most popular activities in Killens Pond State Park but a Delaware-issued fishing license is required for individuals between the ages of 16 and 65.  Park rangers strictly enforce this law.

It is also the park ranger’s duty to monitor prohibited activities within the park, including:

  • Bringing pets inside cabins and in cabin areas
  • Carrying and using firearms, slingshots, paintball guns, fireworks, archery equipment, air guns and martial arts weapons
  • Starting bonfires outside the fire ring
  • Chopping, cutting or damaging trees and other vegetation

Recreational Activities in Killens Pond State Park

The Killens Pond Water Park is one of the most popular attractions in Killens Pond State Park. Park rangers ensure that visitors who are 12 years old or younger are accompanied by adults. During summer, boating is another popular activity in the park, with plenty of kayaks, paddleboats, rowboats and canoes available for rent. During inclement weather, park rangers reiterate safety guidelines and inform visitors of any changes in rental hours.

Killens Pond State Park is also home to several hiking trails. Among the four trails, only the Bike Trail is open for bicycling. Park rangers also patrol the trails and respond to injuries, as well as find lost hikers.

Trap Pond State Park

Developed as a recreational area in the 1930’s, Trap Pond became a state park in 1951, making it one of the oldest state parks in Delaware. The park is located in the southwestern area of Sussex County, on what used to be an expansive wetland.

Today, the 2109-acre park features surviving fragments of the pristine swamp, including clusters of second-generation bald cypress trees, which were widely harvested during the 18th century. Trap Pond State Park features a nature center, hiking trails, campsites and plenty of opportunities for other recreational activities, including boating, fishing and bicycling.

Trap Pond State Park Recreational Features

All activities in the park itself are monitored by park rangers to ensure that visitors are safe and the park’s resources are protected. Some of the most popular park activities include:

Boating and Paddling. A trip to Trap Pond State Park is incomplete without witnessing the pond’s bald cypress trees, and the best way to do so is by boat. During summer months, visitors can rent paddleboats, kayaks, canoes, rowboats and pontoon boats by the hour or for the entire day. Park interpreters also facilitate scheduled educational boat tours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Aside from the pond, the interior of the swamp can also be explored via three canoe trails. Park rangers patrol the pond and swamp areas, not only to ensure that visitors stay within the boating trails but also to prevent them from damaging trees and other vegetation.

Hiking and Biking. Trap Pond State Park features several trails that are open for hiking and bicycling. Most of the trails are suitable for visitors of various fitness levels but some trails are more easily accessible than others. Park rangers regularly patrol the trails to ensure that hikers and bikers do not wander off the designated paths. Park rangers also respond to accidents, injuries and emergency situations.

Campground. The park’s campground has 140 campsites equipped with electric and water hookups. The campground is particularly busy during Halloween with its weekend festivities. Park rangers are expected to double their patrol efforts during this season to ensure that peace and order are maintained amongst visitors.

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