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Louisiana Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

The mild climate of Louisiana combined with the numerous waterways that abound among the hills and marshlands make the state a Mecca for birdwatchers and other people who take advantage of the state’s beautiful parks.  The state maintains nearly two-dozen parks, while the National Park Service operates five national parks in Louisiana.

Park rangers who work for the state and federal government protect Louisiana’s parks and visitors.  The requirements to work for these entities are quite different and are described below.

Joining the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism

The positions of Park Ranger 1 and 2 are civil service positions with the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.  The duties of these certified peace officers range from enforcing all laws and park regulations to maintaining the park that they work at.

Job applications are available for positions at specific parks, and the requirements to apply for a park ranger 1 position are described below.

Educational Options:

While the Louisiana does not specify any educational requirements, having some college training in law enforcement or natural resources management can help applicants to stand out from the competition. Highly relevant degrees include:

  • Natural sciences
  • Forestry
  • Natural resources management
  • Forest management
  • Biology
  • Parks and recreation

Applicants with a college background must include their transcripts with their application.

Basic Requirements:

  • Louisiana POST certification (strongly preferred, but not required)
  • Being 18 years old
  • Being willing and able to carry firearms
  • Possessing a valid state driver’s license when appointed
  • Being willing and able to work whenever necessary
    • Including holidays, nights and weekends

Civil Service Exam Requirement: 

Ideally, applicants should have a written test score for the 9500 LEAPS Test to be considered for park ranger positions.  If they do not, they must sign up to take this exam early in the application process.

Becoming a Park Ranger in Louisiana’s National Parks

The five national parks in Louisiana drew over 624,000 visitors in 2013.  Tourism in these parks in 2012 generated nearly $34 million in economic benefits to the state of Louisiana.

Parks operated by the National Park Service in Louisiana include the following:

  • Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Heritage Area
    • It features sites, structures, and landscapes associated with Creole culture
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
    • Six separate sites preserve examples of the cultural and natural resources of the Mississippi Delta region
  • New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
    • It features jazz as it evolved in New Orleans
  • Poverty Point National Monument
    • This park features large prehistoric earth works from the first and second millennia B.C.

Park rangers for the National Park Service have both protective and interpretative functions in Louisiana.  Applicants can apply at either the GS-05 or GS-07 levels with the requirements for the latter type of positions being more stringent.

Basic Requirements:

  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Being 21 years old

Educational Requirements: 

  • GS-05:  Bachelor’s degree including 24 hours of relevant courses
  • GS-07:  A full year of graduate school in a relevant field

Experience Requirements: 

Applicants can substitute education for experience if they have the following types of work histories:

  • GS-05:  Examples include having been a park guide or a law enforcement officer
  • GS-07:  Having direct experience protecting visitors and resources using law enforcement skills

Applicants can combine experience and education to meet these requirements.

Quality Ranking Factors: 

Being skilled in one of the following areas enhances the desirability of an applicant:

  • Knowing how to operate power boats
  • Having emergency response certification

Visiting Louisiana’s State Parks

As far back as fiscal year 2005, over 2 million people visited the facilities run by the Office of State Parks.  These visitors spent $41.1 million, with overnight visitors alone contributing over $24 million.  While people come from all over the world to tour Louisiana’s parishes, 73% of the overnight visitors to the state parks were residents of state.

The state park in Louisiana that receives the most visitors is Fontainebleau State Park.  Over 300,000 people a year visit this 2,800-acre park.  Located on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, it was created at the site of a previous sugar plantation.  Visitors come to sail, camp, cycle, and hike with the popular nature trail helping visitors to view the over 400 different animals that live in the park.

The state of Louisiana recommends Lake Fausse Pointe State Park as an ideal place for those who want to watch birds.  Water birds winter in the wetlands, while migratory birds use the park as a stopping-off spot.  This 6,000 acre wilderness on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain has trees and a swamp that offer spots for birds to feed and nest.

Cypress Island Preserve is another state park that is highly recommended for birding.  The combination of a boardwalk with walking and driving trails helps to see a variety of birds and occasional alligators.  Because the alligators are nesting, the walking trails are closed to visitors from June to October of each year.

Louisiana Park Ranger Salaries

Louisiana is the home of 5 national parks, according to the National Park Service, including the infamous New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Reserve, both in New Orleans.

The average minimum park ranger salary in Louisiana is $23,084. There are many ranks among park rangers and additional opportunities for upward mobility. Here is a look at the rank and salary of park rangers in Louisiana:

Park Ranger 1

  • Minimum: $21,012
  • Maximum: $47,280

Park Ranger 2

  • Minimum: $22,488
  • Maximum: $50,592

Park Ranger Specialist

  • Minimum: $25,752
  • Maximum: $57,912

Park Manager 1

  • Minimum: $27,660
  • Maximum: $58,236

Park Manager 2

  • Minimum: $31,680
  • Maximum: $66,684

Park Manager 3

  • Minimum: $33,900
  • Maximum: $71,340

Park Manager 4

  • Minimum: $36,276
  • Maximum: $76,332

Park Manager 5

  • Minimum: $38,808
  • Maximum: $81,684

Additionally, it’s not uncommon for park rangers to be recognized with different titles. The table below provides additional salary information regarding park rangers in Louisiana:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Louisiana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alexandria LA
Estimate Not Released
25410
Baton Rouge LA
680
19490
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux LA
70
19930
Lafayette LA
180
18420
Lake Charles LA
150
21220
Monroe LA
230
20590
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner LA
1060
21690
Shreveport-Bossier City LA
290
22080
Hammond nonmetropolitan area
70
23750
Natchitoches nonmetropolitan area
190
26850
Winnsboro nonmetropolitan area
160
21880
New Iberia nonmetropolitan area
150
20490

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Louisiana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner LA
640
26630
Shreveport-Bossier City LA
Estimate Not Released
30080
New Iberia nonmetropolitan area
140
32100

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Louisiana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Baton Rouge LA
190
17820
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux LA
60
17500
Lafayette LA
100
18800
Lake Charles LA
50
16900
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner LA
170
17590
Shreveport-Bossier City LA
Estimate Not Released
16780
Winnsboro nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
16890
New Iberia nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
19800

Bayou Segnette State Park

Located a mere thirty-minute drive from New Orleans, Bayou Segnette State Park is home to both man-made and natural sites where visitors can enjoy plenty of southern recreation. Playgrounds, picnic areas, camp sites and swimming pools sit next to marshland and swamp wetlands where visitors can see a unique variety of native plants and wildlife in their natural habitat. Since the park features two types of wetlands, guests can also take advantage of both saltwater and freshwater fishing.

Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism has classified both Park Ranger 1 and 2 positions as civil service positions. As a certified peace officer, a park ranger in Bayou Segnette State Park is tasked with enforcing laws and regulations amongst the park’s visitors, as well as assisting in park maintenance.

Park Ranger Job Duties in Bayou Segnette State Park

Park ranger duties in Bayou Segnette State Park range from law enforcement to park guide and maintenance. The park is home to 98 campsites and park rangers regularly patrol these sites to ensure that camping regulations are adhered to. The park also has a mile-long nature trail and it is a park ranger’s duty to ensure that hikers do not venture off the trail. This keeps visitors safe and protects the park’s flora and fauna from hikers.

The wave pool is one of the most popular features of Bayou Segnette State Park. Park rangers assist in the maintenance and cleanup of the pool and work alongside lifeguards to make sure that swimmers abide by the pool’s safety rules.

Park rangers are considered law enforcement officers in Louisiana. It is every park ranger’s responsibility to educate visitors about laws relating to acceptable behavior in the park itself. When visitors violate these laws, it is the park ranger’s sole duty to apprehend the violator. In fact, in 2012, a Bayou Segnette State Park ranger detained a couple accused of burglary. The two fugitives were wandering around the state park when the park ranger spotted and detained them.

Bayou Segnette State Park Recreational Features

Bayou Segnette State Park offers a variety of recreational and educational activities that the whole family can enjoy, including:

Swamp and Marshland Activities – Bayou Segnette State Park has the distinction of having access to both swamp and marshland areas, which provides visitors with a chance to learn more about the wildlife and plants that inhabit this remarkable ecosystem, including American Alligators, Bald Eagles, Virginia Opossum and Red-Winged Blackbirds. Park rangers provide supervision for canoe tours to ensure that both visitors and wildlife animals remain safe.

Guided Hikes – Park rangers in Bayou Segnette State Park also lead Guided Hike tours. Tour participants are not only introduced to the hardwood forest’s flora and fauna but also have opportunity to learn about the region’s geology and history.

Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing – Fishing enthusiasts come to Bayou Segnette State Park to cast their lines in one of the park’s abundant fishing areas. Many of these areas are accessible only through the park’s boat launch and are not easily reached by land. Park rangers guide visitors to the best fishing spots and enforce all state laws regarding fishing.

Picnic Areas and Playgrounds – At the picnic area and playground, park rangers monitor prohibited activities, such as littering and damaging/defacing property.  They are also on-call in the event there is an accident or medical emergency.

Camping Sites – Each of the parks 98 campsites are equipped with electrical and water hookups that park rangers assist campers with. There is also a group camp site that can accommodate up to 120 people. Park rangers patrol the camping sites to ensure peace and quiet amongst campers is maintained, which makes for a safer environment for both campers and the wildlife that calls Bayou Segnette State Park home.

Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Three centuries of cultural heritage make Cane River Creole National Historical Park one of the most diverse tourist attractions in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. Established in 1994 by the U.S. Congress, this national park’s objective is to help preserve the architecture of the French and Creole people.

Located in the Cane River National Heritage Area, the park consists of two plantations: Magnolia (18.75 acres) and Oakland (44.16 acres). Within the confines of these two plantations are housed 67 historical structures dating back 200 years. With its rich heritage and natural beauty, Creole River National Historical Park is a must-see for any tourist visiting this part of the state.

Park rangers are an integral part of every activity that this attraction affords. Though their primary duties involve maintaining law and order within park grounds, they are required to oversee medical evacuations, search and rescue operations, surveys and reports, and all law-enforcement related operations. Known as heritage rangers, park rangers at Cane River Creole National Historical Park also guide the tours that occur daily.

Rangers and Recreation

At Cane River Creole National Historical Park, the primary resources being protected are architectural in nature. Therefore, knowledge of the structures, sites and landscapes of the region is also highly desirable. There are seven national historic sites located within the park, and three state sites – apart from forts, museums and about two dozen local sites that are included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Hiking, hunting, canoeing and fishing are popular activities engaged in by visitors, and these activities are monitored closely by park rangers to ensure that the resources associated with them are carefully preserved. Being a multi-cultural heritage area, the park is home to diverse people from the past, as well as the present. Music, art, architecture and other pursuits are of paramount importance, and rangers are expected to protect these rich pieces of American heritage.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Named after a controversial French Pirate, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve boasts cultural and natural features of the Mississippi River Delta. The national park is home to a total of six distinct sites, each one offering something different to visitors.

History buffs may witness a reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans on the actual site of the War of 1812. Visitors who are interested in Cajun culture can attend musical events, go on bayou boat tours or participate in other cultural programs. The Barataria Preserve offers visitors a chance to explore the abundant Louisiana wetlands, including its forests, bayous, swamps, lush vegetation and wildlife.

Park Ranger Job Duties in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

The six sites within Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve all but guarantee that park rangers have their hands full on any given day. The Barataria Preserve alone covers over 23,000 acres of swamps, forests, bayous and marshes. The preserve is home to a community of wildlife that includes alligators, dozens of bird species, eastern gray squirrels, nine-banded armadillos, water snakes and white-tailed deer.

The preserve has a particularly thriving population of American alligators. Harassing, approaching or feeding the alligators is strictly prohibited. Even though they may seem docile, alligators are wild creatures and can attack very quickly. For the safety of both visitors and animals, park rangers ensure that all interaction with wildlife abides by the park’s rules and regulations. Park rangers are also expected to keep visitors informed about waterway conditions. Rangers advise visitors whether the waterways are safe for canoeing or kayaking.

Park rangers at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve also lead recreational and educational activities within the park. Guided walks through the Louisiana wetlands are led by park rangers. Rangers also educate visitors on a variety of Louisiana-related topics, such as ecological challenges to the wetlands and the history in the surrounding communities. These informational sessions are typically held at the Visitor Center Trail or at the visitor center building.

Some activities within the park are subject to permits and fees and park rangers are onsite to ensure that visitors comply with this process. Some of the park activities that require a permit and/or a fee are commercial photography, special events, scientific research and fishing.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Recreational Features

Anyone who is remotely interested in nature, culture or history will find plenty to enjoy at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The national park’s recreational highlights include:

Chalmette Battlefield – This is the site of the Battle of New Orleans that took place in 1815. The visitor center features documentary films, exhibits and a museum store where park visitors can purchase historical item reproductions, music and books. There is also a Junior Ranger program where children have the chance to learn and earn a ranger badge. Every afternoon from Tuesday to Saturday, park rangers give lectures on the Battle of New Orleans. Park rangers also guide visitors through the Chalmette Monument and Chalmette National Cemetery.

French Quarter Visitor Center – Park visitors interested in learning about the regions rich history visit the French Quarter Visitor Center, which is available for reservation for school field trips. Park rangers lead visitors on an educational history walk along the Mississippi River. During this hour-long walk, park rangers share stories about the origin and development of the city.

Acadian Cultural Center – Park rangers are also expected to lead the programs at the Acadian Cultural Center, which is where visitors can learn about the Cajuns who migrated and settled in this area of Louisiana. Aside from giving educational talks, park rangers also take visitors on a guided boat tour during fall and spring. The boat tour cruises down Bayou Vermillon, which was home to Native American tribes before it became a settlement for traders and farmers.

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

Located 18 miles east of St. Martinville and 30 miles south of Interstate 10 is Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. This 6000-acre park offers some of the most pristine wilderness areas in Louisiana and was once the home of the Chitimacha Indian tribe. Hiking and canoe tours are both popular activities for park visitors, as is camping, fishing and bird watching.

The lush wilderness of Lake Fausse Pointe State Park keeps its park rangers busy.  The park itself features three nature trails where visitors can embark on hiking tours and see animals like whitetail deer, bobcats and black bears in their natural habitats. It is a park ranger’s duty to ensure that hikers remain on the trail and away from unsafe territory. Park rangers are also actively involved in tracking down lost park visitors and providing protection to the park’s plants and wildlife.

Park rangers at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park also patrol both the park’s backpack and canoe campsites to ensure that visitors are abiding by posted rules and regulations. Many visitors enjoy exploring the park by water, but it is important to keep in mind that the Atchafalaya Basin can be mercilessly rough, especially for those who have no experience in kayaking or canoeing.

Park rangers educate visitors regarding safe routes and dramatically changing water levels from season to season to ensure visitors stay safe. In fact, the Atchafalaya is so untamed that it is common for visitors to get lost along the maze of bayous and canals. As such, park rangers are always on alert for missing and stranded visitors.

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park Recreational Highlights and Park Ranger Job Duties

The outdoor activities that await visitors at Lake Fausse Pointe range from easy and relaxing to extreme and challenging.

Hiking and Biking Trails – The park has three trails that allow for biking and hiking. The “Armadillo Ridge” is 0.75 miles long and is best for visitors who are looking for an easy 15-minute stroll. At 1.6 miles, the “Cardinal Run” takes half an hour to hike and provides scenic views of Lake Fausse Pointe. The longest trail is the “Barred Owl Trek,” which stretches to 3.3 miles and takes more than two hours to complete. Park rangers patrol these trails and provide assistance in instances of lost visitors, hiking injuries and biking accidents.

Backpack and Canoe Campsites – Lake Fausse Pointe State Park has a total of seven backpack campsites and five canoe sites, each requiring varying skill levels to reach.  Backpack campsites can be found along the Barred Owl Trek Trail and are equipped with primitive benches and fire rings.  Park rangers guide visitors to these campsites and make sure that campers stay within their designated areas since some backpack campsites can easily be mistaken for a canoe site and vice versa.

Water Playground – The park’s water playground is a popular attraction for families with kids. The playground is open on weekends from April to September. Park rangers play an instrumental role in keeping children safe at the playground.  They also educate park visitors about special activities and altered opening-closing schedules during holidays.

Rental Boats – Many Lake Fausse Pointe visitors come to experience the remarkable water adventures available within the park. Flat-bottom boats, kayaks and canoes are rented out on an hourly or per-day basis. Park rangers assist in boat rentals and check each boat to make sure that passengers are wearing their life jackets before the boat heads out.  They also patrol to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not consumed while out on the water and when duty calls, are involved in rescue missions in the event there is an accident or injury.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

Only in New Orleans can visitors find a national historical park dedicated to jazz music. This singularly unique park serves up some of the hottest jazz performances by the biggest billed stars in the world of pro and amateur jazz.

With a rich cultural foundation and a unique twist on the historical park theme, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park sits on a four-acre area within Louis Armstrong Park in the Tremé neighborhood near the French Quarter in New Orleans. Also known as the French Market area, the location itself boasts a rich heritage of jazz – the world’s most popular indigenous American music genre.

Park rangers at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park are required to possess a unique skill set that allows them to engage visitors and keep them enthralled with the rich cultural environment that this park has to offer. Their primary role is maintaining law and order, but their more unique role is the facilitation of education and entertainment that the park is best known for.

Park Ranger Job Duties at New Orleans Jazz Historical Park

Park Rangers at New Orleans Jazz Historical Park must be knowledgeable in jazz music, as well as its history and evolution through the years. This is a critical part of the job, as the park’s primary objectives are education as well as entertainment. In order to showcase America’s jazz talent to visitors, park rangers must naturally be thorough on the subject at hand.

Park rangers are also involved in:

  • Park maintenance
  • Law enforcement or seasonal law enforcement
  • Education and interpretation
  • Emergency response, including first aid and firefighting

Training in firearms, legal studies and crisis intervention are prerequisites to joining and serving as a park ranger here. Though some of this training is conducted at the park itself, most preliminary training is provided at three training centers across the nation.

A park ranger’s job can be as dangerous as it is exciting, and the road to success in being selected is a hard, but also extremely rewarding. At the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, the concept of a rewarding career is elevated to a whole new level with the added bonus of cultural wealth.

The Visitor Center is a natural starting point for jazz enthusiasts, as well as casual tourists. At this 916 N. Peters Street location, visitors can catch a glimpse of the many learning opportunities that the park boasts, including video documentaries, demos, talks and live music sessions held every week, all of which are facilitated by park rangers.

In addition, the Old U.S. Mint at 400 Esplanade Ave. – with its jazz museum and world-class performance venue – falls under the care of the rangers, who are responsible for managing audiences, performers and all activities at the museum and the concert hall.

The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is one of the only national parks in the country where park rangers can also don performance hats twice a week. Apart from the regular day-to-day activities rangers perform, there are also ranger-coordinated events held five days a week. Candidates who happen to be jazz enthusiasts or musicians well-versed in this iconic American genre of music are perfect fits for a park ranger position at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, which offers some of the most fulfilling employment opportunities in the National Park Service.

North Toledo Bend State Park

Located on the eastern shore of Toledo Bend Reservoir, North Toledo Bend State Park combines one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the country, surrounded by more than 900 acres of pristine forest full of hardwood and pine.

The remarkable terrain of the park provides visitors with plenty of recreational activities on both land and water. Picnic areas, camp sites and hiking trails are abundant and the reservoir enjoys a nation-wide reputation as one of the country’s best fishing spots.

Park rangers in North Toledo Bend State Park are responsible for both law enforcement within the park and park maintenance.

Given the state park’s large water reservoir and expansive forest area, it is not uncommon for visitors to wander away from designated trails and routes. It is a park ranger’s duty to keep visitors on the right track. For example, the park features two hiking trails. Park rangers patrol these trails to ensure that hikers do not get lost in the woods, and to help them find their way back when they do end up getting lost. Removing or harming any plant, vegetation or wildlife creature in the forest is strictly prohibited and park rangers also see to it that hikers are respectful to the natural environment here at all times.

A large number of North Toledo Bend State Park visitors come to enjoy the remarkable fishing opportunities that Toledo Bend Reservoir offers. The reservoir is governed by a set of fishing regulations that aim to protect both the reservoir and its visitors.

Visitor Activities in North Toledo Bend State Park

North Toledo Bend State Park attracts numerous visitors from all over Louisiana and the country. The rolling forest, which sits next to one of the country’s premier fishing lakes, creates a recreational haven for families and friends.

Fishing Competitions – North Toledo Bend State Park is affiliated with several organizations that sponsor fishing competitions that attract fishing enthusiasts from all over the country. The freshwater and saltwater areas of North Toledo Bend are abundant with white and striped bass, crappie, catfish and largemouth bass. These fishing competitions attract thick crowds and it is a park ranger’s duty to ensure that peace and order are maintained amongst visitors.

Campsites and Cabins – Whether a visitor prefers to rough it in the woods or stay in a cozy wooden cabin, North Toledo Bend State Park has overnight accommodation options that guests may use. There are 63 campsites that come with electricity and water hookups. For visitors who prefer to sleep with a roof over their heads, there are ten fully-furnished cabins that are equipped with a barbecue grill, a full kitchen and a working fireplace that comes handy during winters. Park rangers are in charge of both reservations and maintenance.  They also enforce adherence to park rules.

Hiking Trails and Picnic Areas – Visitors looking for an easy stroll can try the park’s mile-and-a-half Dogwood Trail, while those who prefer a more strenuous hike can go on the four-mile hiking trail. Park rangers are standing by in these hiking areas to ensure that hikers are abiding by the rules and staying within the right path.

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