Massachusetts Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Because of Massachusetts’ weather and climate, seasonal state park ranger jobs usually run from May to October. For park ranger positions at state and national historical sites in Massachusetts, year-round jobs may be available. Additionally, city park ranger jobs are strewn across the state in cities such as Boston and Springfield. These jobs are under the management of each city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and may carry their own requirements.

All park rangers in Massachusetts carry the responsibility of patrolling their assigned area to make sure visitors comply with park rules and regulations, to protect park and natural resources, to enhance the visitors’ experience and to coordinate with law enforcement as necessary.

There are 143 state parks in Massachusetts as well as city-operated parks, all of which employ park rangers. Some of these are:

    • Boston Harbor Island State Park, Boston
    • Quinsicamond State Park, in the central region near Worcester
    • Wahconah Falls State Park, in Berkshire Hills
    • Ashland State Park, Ashland
    • Myles Standish State Park, near Kingston in the eastern part of the state
    • Cambridgeport Parks in the City of Cambridge, including:
      • Fulmore Park
      • David Nunes (Old Morse) Park
      • Alberico Park

 

  • City of Worcester Parks, including:
    • Elm Park
    • Worcester Common
    • Cristoforo Colombo Park

 

Steps to Becoming a Park Ranger with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Experience and Degree Requirements – State park rangers in Massachusetts must satisfy education and/or experience requirements in one of the following ways:

  • Have two years of full-time experience in cultural/natural interpretation, environmental education or park/resource management,

OR

  • Have an associate degree (or higher) with a major in park interpretation, environmental education, natural resource management, or park or recreation management

Degrees at Massachusetts’s colleges and universities that can benefit aspiring park rangers include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and Recreation
  • Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management with Camp Management Option
  • Certificate in Sustainable  Tourism Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Economics

Comply With Basic Requirements – All park ranger jobs in Massachusetts, whether at the state or civil level, require that applicants:

  • Hold U.S. citizenship or legal alien status
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Pass a thorough criminal background check
  • Be able to work any shift, day or night, and weekends and holidays
  • Pass a physical exam and drug screening test

Training for Massachusetts Park Ranger Jobs – New Massachusetts State or city park rangers must complete training at the Massachusetts Ranger Academy or the Seasonal Ranger Academy, depending upon the type of job. The location of this training will also depend on the nature of the job; for example, Boston park rangers will attend the Boston Park Ranger Academy Training Program. The main training academy for state park rangers in Massachusetts is located in Amherst. In addition, in Boston only, park rangers must complete Special Officer training and maintain that license, allowing them to legally carry a sidearm.

Additional training required for this job includes First Responder and CPR certification, as well as possession of a current, valid lifesaving or waterfront certificate.

Becoming a Park Ranger with the National Park Service in Massachusetts

There are more than 80 national park areas (including national historical parks, national scenic trails, national historic sites and national recreation areas) operated by the National Park Service in Maryland.

These parks employ federal park rangers, and include (but are not limited to):

  • Boston National Historic Park- Boston
  • Cape Cod National Seashore – Wellfleet
  • John F. Kennedy National Historic Site – Brookline
  • Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters – Cambridge
  • Lowell National Historical Park – Lowell
  • Springfield Armory National Historic Site – Springfield
  • Adams National Historical Park – Quincy

Only U.S. citizens who hold a valid Massachusetts driver’s license may apply to become a federal park ranger in Massachusetts. They must also fulfill education and experience requirements.

Most national park service park ranger jobs in Massachusetts are at the GS4 or higher level, which means that applicants must have one of the following:

  • Two years of education past the high school level with at least 12 semester hours of related course work (in areas including sociology, behavioral science, public administration, business administration, museum science, social science, law enforcement, park and recreation management, anthropology, archaeology, history, or cultural resource management)

OR

  • 26 weeks of general experience and 26 weeks of specialized experience,

OR

  • A combination of education and experience

General experience is classified as work in a professional, administrative, technical or investigative capacity that provided the applicant with familiarity in: resource protection, cultural history, recreational use of public land/facilities, law enforcement, fire prevention and suppression, and/or interpersonal skills dealing with the public.

Specialized experience is defined as demonstrating proficiency in technical, administrative, scientific, recreation, law enforcement or park-related work using the skills and abilities necessary for federal park rangers.

Massachusetts Park Ranger Salaries

Massachusetts is unique in that park rangers have the option of working for the Commonwealth through the Massachusetts Department of Conversation and Recreation or at the local level through the City of Boston. It’s important to mention, though, that park rangers employed through the Department of Conversation and Recreation work on a seasonal basis, typically between May and October. Their salary is $1,346.50 on a biweekly basis.

The City of Boston actually procures its own park rangers, and their salaries are negotiated by the Boston Park Rangers Association. Their salary agreement provides for them the following salary steps:

Park Ranger, Grade 1

  • Step 1: $29,676.75
  • Step 2: $30,863.92
  • Step 3: $32,099.55
  • Step 4: $33,382.24
  • Step 5: $34,716.80
  • Step 6: $36,105.93
  • Step 7: $37,549.65
  • Step 8: $39,052.73
  • Step 9: $40,630.63

Park Ranger, Grade 2

  • Step 1: $34,716.80
  • Step 2: $36,105.93
  • Step 3: $37,549.65
  • Step 4: $39,052.73
  • Step 5: $40,615.17
  • Step 6: $42,239.01
  • Step 7: $43,929.04
  • Step 8: $45,685.93
  • Step 9: $47,531.50

Park Ranger, Grade 3

  • Step 1: $42,239.01
  • Step 2: $43,929.04
  • Step 3: $65,685.93
  • Step 4: $47,512.41
  • Step 5: $49,398.93
  • Step 6: $51,391.21
  • Step 7: $53,446.26
  • Step 8: $55,583.18
  • Step 9: $57,828.52

Additional Massachusetts park ranger salaries can be seen in the table below:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Massachusetts

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Barnstable Town MA
610
24220
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
6290
26600
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
4310
26570
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton MA NECTA Division
250
31830
Framingham MA NECTA Division
270
24720
Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury MA-NH NECTA Division
340
25610
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem MA-NH NECTA Division
Estimate Not Released
23930
Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner MA
90
25900
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford MA-NH NECTA Division
140
31760
Nashua NH-MA NECTA Division
350
23620
New Bedford MA
240
25250
Peabody MA NECTA Division
290
28030
Pittsfield MA
80
26160
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
1710
24160
Springfield MA-CT
530
27100
Taunton-Norton-Raynham MA NECTA Division
90
29330
Worcester MA-CT
580
28430
Southwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
70
26080
Northwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
150
26260
North Central Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
40
27730

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Massachusetts

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
1190
28690
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
960
30440
Peabody MA NECTA Division
180
21770
Pittsfield MA
60
25170
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
330
25820
Springfield MA-CT
80
20320
Worcester MA-CT
120
20570

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Massachusetts

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Barnstable Town MA
90
26490
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
1890
22600
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
1400
23120
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton MA NECTA Division
140
19130
Framingham MA NECTA Division
60
26390
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem MA-NH NECTA Division
50
22090
Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner MA
120
20000
Nashua NH-MA NECTA Division
70
19960
New Bedford MA
90
24430
Peabody MA NECTA Division
130
21290
Pittsfield MA
30
20500
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
450
20390
Springfield MA-CT
260
20040
Worcester MA-CT
300
22200
Southwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
50
20030

Borderland State Park

Park rangers at Borderland State Park work for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation providing interpretive narratives on the trails, wildlife and geology found within the park. Unique to the park are:

  • The glacial boulder walls at the Visitors Center, created during the last ice age 15,000 years ago
  • A kettle pond, created by man from a post-glacial lake
  • Ancient lichens and plants that grow on the trees within the park; the types of trees in the park including red maples, sweet pepper bush and eastern white cedar
  • Wildlife including geese, deer, fox, otter, raccoon, and migratory birds

Working in Borderland State Park

Borderland State Park in Massachusetts is aptly named, as it sits on land purchased by the Ames family in 1906 on the border of the towns of Easton and Sharon. It is located on the watershed divide between the Neponset and Taunton Rivers. After Mrs. Ames’ death, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts obtained the Ames estate and turned it into a state park in 1971. Today, millions of visitors enjoy its 1773 acres of ponds, geological formations, fields and woods each year.

Borderland State Park is open year-round. The Lawrence Newcomb Visitors Center provides information for visitors, as well as restrooms and trail maps. The entrance fee is $2 per car. The Friends of Borderland provide Mansion Tours of the Ames Mansion on the third Sunday of each month from April to November for $3 per adult.

Visitors to Borderland State Park enjoy winter activities such as sledding and ice skating, and warmer weather activities like fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, bicycling, bird watching, picnicking and walking/hiking on the park’s more than 20 miles of hiking trails. Three major ponds exist at Borderland State Park- Lower Leach Pond, Pud’s Pond, and Upper Leach Pond. Also found within the park are glacial cliffs and outcroppings, as well as glacial riverbeds.

Boston National Historical Park marks the site of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. This popular Boston destination encompasses much of the city and runs along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile route that leads visitors to 16 historical sites. These include Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, the Paul Revere House, Old South Meeting House and Old State House.

Also included within Boston National Historical Park are destinations in Charlestown including:

  • Charlestown Navy Yard, where the USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young are docked
  • Battle of Bunker Hill Museum and the Bunker Hill Monument
  • Dorchester Heights in South Boston

Visitor centers located within Boston National Historical Park (Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center and Faneuil Hall Visitor Center) are open year-round. Most monuments are open year-round, with seasonal hours. Ships are usually open seasonally.

A National Park Service report in 2012 showed that in 2010, 3.2 million visitors to Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historical Site spent $93,586,000, supporting 1,212 jobs in the Boston area.

Training for Boston National Historical Park Ranger Jobs

Training varies for Boston National Historical Park Ranger Jobs depending on the category of the job – Protection or Interpretation.

For Park Ranger (Protection/Law Enforcement) jobs in Boston, training consists of:

  • NPS Type II Law Enforcement Commission if not already possessed. This training takes place at UMass Amherst, lasts 400 and once received, this commission allows Boston National Historical Park Rangers to carry firearms. Courses include:
    • Driver training
    • Physical training, arrest and control techniques
    • Academic training (evaluated by both practical exercises and a written exam)
    • Firearms training
  • First Responder certification training (includes first aid/CPR)
  • Field training at a national park (not necessarily in Boston)

For Park Ranger (Interpretation) jobs in Boston, training consists of:

  • On-the-job training in the specific aspects, background, history and culture of the area
  • Completion of the NPS Interpretive Development Program

Walden Pond State Reservation

Made famous by Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond has become an iconic symbol of man’s connection with nature and respect for the environment. Walden Pond State Reservation consists of 462 acres of protected open space surrounding Walden Pond near Concord and Lincoln, Massachusetts. It is under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Forests and Parks System, and is open year-round.

Park Rangers at Walden Pond State Reservation provide many services to visitors, including interpretive educational programs on the pond and the area, and guided hikes and walks. The message of Walden Pond State Reservation promotes conservation and environmental concerns. It is designed to carry on Thoreau’s written wish that “”All Walden wood might have been preserved for our park forever, with Walden in its midst.”

Training for Walden Pond State Reservation Park Ranger Jobs

New Walden Pond State Reservation Park Rangers must complete 18 weeks/700 hours of training at the Massachusetts Ranger Academy in Amherst. Classes will consist of both academic and physical training, and include:

  • Principles of interpretation
  • Ethics, professionalism and core values
  • Mission and history of the Massachusetts Forests and Parks System
  • Procedures and policies of the Massachusetts Forests and Parks System

On-the-job training is also a component of the training program for new park rangers at Walden Pond State Reservation.  New rangers must be familiar with the pond’s history and geology as well as the wildlife in the area, including coyote, porcupine, deer, squirrel, beaver, woodpeckers, turkey, chipmunks, Canada geese, mallard, wood duck, American robin, eastern phoebe, and cardinals. There are also many species of fish swimming in Walden Pond in which rangers must be knowledgeable, including yellow perch, catfish, koy, rainbow smelt, pumpkinseed, bluegill, largemouth bass, small mouth bass, brook trout, brown trout and Rainbow trout.

If a new ranger does not already have these certifications, he or she must get them within the first six months to one year of employment:

  • CPR certification
  • First Responder certification
  • Lifesaving or waterfront safety certification

Walden Pond State Reservation Past and Present

Thoreau made Walden Pond legendary as he lived there from 1845 to 1847, providing him with material for his book, Walden. Today, Walden Pond is a National Historic Landmark and known as the birthplace of the conservation movement. There are many hiking trails throughout Walden Pond State Reservation as well as a replica of the one-room cabin in which Thoreau lived. The park also includes a Visitors Center, bookstore, Tsongas gallery and gift shop.

The Massachusetts Forests and Parks System limits the number of visitors who may be at Walden Pond State Reservation at any time to 1000. Whenever the park reaches that capacity, it will close for the day to keep new visitors out.

Grills, flotation devices, bicycles and dogs are prohibited from entering the park. Visitors to Walden Pond State Reservation enjoy picnicking, swimming, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fishing. The only entrance fee is a $5 per day, per vehicle parking fee.

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