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Mississippi Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Park rangers in Mississippi are dedicated to promoting and protecting outdoor recreational areas for residents and visitors. They function as greeters to guests of state parks, provide security for park facilities and guests, operate facilities that produce park revenue, supervise other workers in the parks, and assist visitors in recreational activities.

Park rangers in Mississippi may work as federal park rangers for the National Park Service or as state park rangers for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

State park rangers in Mississippi average a salary of $18,735 to $32,786, according to 2014 figures provided by the Mississippi State Personnel Board.

Mississippi is home to 25 state parks, the most famous being:

  • LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson
  • Buccaneer Bay Water Park in Waveland (near Biloxi)
  • Shepard State Park in Gautier (near Gulfport)
  • Paul B. Johnson State Park in Hattiesburg

Steps to Becoming a Park Ranger with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

Experience and Education Requirements – Park Ranger jobs in Mississippi are considered entry-level jobs; therefore much is learned through on-the-job training. Applicants must have at least a high school diploma or GED.

However, taking related college coursework at Mississippi colleges and universities, such as the following, can give a Park Ranger applicant an advantage over others:

  • Park and Recreation Program Leadership
  • Recreational Sports Programming
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Design and Maintenance of Facilities
  • Administration of Park and Recreation Programs

Additionally, applicants who possess education and/or experience in the following Park Ranger job competencies will have a distinct advantage over other applicants:

  • Integrity
  • Work ethic
  • Service orientation
  • Accountability
  • Self management skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Self-development skills
  • Emotional maturity
  • Macro-oriented
  • Working through others
  • Results oriented
  • Resource management
  • Technical proficiency
  • Workflow management
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Stakeholder relations

Fulfill Prerequisites – Anyone wishing to become a Mississippi Park Ranger must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a Mississippi driver’s license (or one from a contiguous state)
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass a physical examination
  • Pass a drug/alcohol screening test
  • Pass an interview
  • Meet the following physical requirements:
    • Be able to lift up to 50 lbs
    • Visual acuity at near, midrange, and far ranges
    • Good field of vision
    • Three-dimensional vision and depth perception
    • Accommodation (visually)
    • Speaking/hearing ability- good speaking and listening skills
    • Motor coordination to move about as required for the job

Training for Mississippi Park Ranger Jobs – Much of the training for Park Ranger jobs in Mississippi is conducted on-the-job. Skills related to the competencies listed above will be taught as well as information needed to supervise other subordinate park employees. Fire prevention, emergency response, financing and budgeting will also be taught.

Becoming a Park Ranger with the National Park Service in Mississippi

There are ten facilities and areas run by the National Park Service in Mississippi. The most popular are:

  • Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
  • Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area
  • Natchez National Historical Park
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
  • Tupelo National Battlefield
  • Vicksburg National Military Park

All aspiring federal park rangers in Mississippi must meet these prerequisites:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Possess a Mississippi driver’s license
  • Hold U.S. citizenship
  • Pass the Physical Efficiency Battery test
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass a medical exam and drug screen
  • Meet education and experience qualifications for GS-7 park ranger positions through:
    • Possessing one year of specialized experience in natural resources law enforcement duties

OR

    • Logging 18 semester hours of graduate education related to the park ranger job

OR

    • Combination of experience and education

Mississippi Park Ranger Salaries

According to the Mississippi State Personnel Board, there are four ranks among park rangers in Mississippi. While they work under the large scope of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks, park rangers are actually employed by the individual state park. Some of these parks include LeFleurs Bluff State Park in Jackson, Natchez State Park, and Buccaneer State Park and Shepard State Park, both near Biloxi.

Again, there is a range in the park police salary in MS because of the ranking levels. Below is a look at the salary structure of park rangers in Mississippi:

Park Ranger I

  • Minimum: $18,735
  • Maximum: $32,786.25

Park Ranger II

  • Minimum: $20,208
  • Maximum: $35,364

Park Ranger III

  • Minimum: $21,791
  • Maximum: $38,134.25

Park Ranger IV

  • Minimum: $23,493
  • Maximum: $41,112.75

In addition, there are management positions to pursue as well:

Park Manager I

  • Minimum: $26,768
  • Maximum: $46,844

Park Manager II

  • Minimum: $28,566
  • Maximum: $49,990.50

Park Manager III

  • Minimum: $30,481
  • Maximum: $53,341.75

Park Manager IV

  • Minimum: $32,521
  • Maximum: $56,911.75

Further park ranger salary information is shown in the table below, particularly entry-level salary figures among a diversity of roles:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Mississippi

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Gulfport-Biloxi MS
130
28150
Hattiesburg MS
140
26570
Jackson MS
200
28730
Memphis TN-MS-AR
810
23720
Pascagoula MS
60
23920
Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
190
24760
Northwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
220
22020
Southeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
240
21050
Southwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
110
26670

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Mississippi

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Jackson MS
Estimate Not Released
25410
Memphis TN-MS-AR
210
26500
Southwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
40
20890

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Mississippi

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Gulfport-Biloxi MS
80
19090
Memphis TN-MS-AR
500
19800
Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
16810
Northwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area
40
18680

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore is the largest National Seashore in the United States, and is broken into twelve units from Cat Island, Mississippi to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Those who aspire to become Mississippi park rangers at Gulf Islands National Seashore would be stationed within the Mississippi District at one of the following areas:

  • Cat Island
  • West Ship Island
  • East Ship Island
  • Horn Island
  • Gulf Shores
  • Petit Bois Island
  • Davis Bayou Area – the only part of Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Mississippi District that is accessible by vehicle

Working as a Park Ranger at Gulf Islands National Seashore Park

Park rangers in Mississippi at Gulf Islands National Seashore must be well versed in not only nature and the ecology of the area, but also be knowledgeable about the vast history and culture of the area. Many Civil War forts are located within the national seashore, such as Fort Massachusetts and Fort Gaines. Park rangers must be able to interpret the history of these national historic monuments to visitors in programs and tours including island walks and fort talks.

Over 80 percent of Gulf Islands National Seashore is submerged underwater, which means that prospective park rangers must also be knowledgeable about the vast marine life living within the seashore, including tortoises, marshes and plant life. Additionally, Gulf Islands National Seashore has been designated as a National Watchable Wildlife Area. Visitors to the park can see varieties of mammals (such as dolphins), reptiles (like the Leatherback Sea Turtle), birds (including pine warblers, penguins, and shorebirds like terns) and amphibians (like the many varieties of frogs found in the area); including 12 federally listed endangered or threatened species such as the Peridido Key Beach Mouse.

John W. Kyle State Park

Mississippi’s John W. Kyle State Park near Sardis was recently ranked among Reserve America’s Top 100 Parks, and was awarded several other distinctions:

The park made the list of Top 100 Campgrounds in the U.S.,

  • Top 25 Amazing Spots
  • Top 25 Bird Watching Spots
  • Top 50 Fishing Spots
  • Top 25 Kid-Friendly Parks
  • Top 25 Romantic Spots
  • Top 50 Scenic Views
  • Top 25 Water Recreation Parks

Visitors come to John W. Kyle State Park to camp at its 200 campsites, swim and fish within the 58,500-acre Sardis Reservoir, and enjoy spectacular scenery. Annual events in the area of John W. Kyle State Park include:

  • Golf tournaments
  • The Yocona International Folk Festival in August
  • The St. Jude Bass Classic in May
  • The Spring Pilgrimage to Holy Springs in April

Additionally, park ranger-led water tours are offered periodically within the park.

Experience and Degree Prerequisites for John W. Kyle State Park Rangers

New park rangers at John W. Kyle State Park who enter at the Park Ranger I (entry level) need not fulfill any experience or degree prerequisites. However, park rangers at higher levels need more experience, as noted below:

  • Park Ranger II: Must have a high school diploma or GED AND one year of park-related experience
  • Park Ranger III: Must have a high school diploma or GED AND two years of park-related experience
  • Park Ranger IV: Must have a high school diploma or GED AND three years of park-related experience

Entry-level Park Assistant Manager II jobs require the applicant to hold a bachelor’s degree in management, parks and recreation administration or a related field.

Entry-level Park Manager I jobs require either a bachelor’s degree in management, parks and recreation administration or a related field plus one year of park-related work experience; or a master degree in management, parks and recreation administration or a related field.

Accredited colleges and universities in Mississippi offer the following related degrees that would be appropriate for Park Assistant Manager and Park Manager Jobs in John W. Kyle State Park:

  • Master of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Parks and Recreation Management
  • Master of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism
  • Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Recreation Management

Training Required for John W. Kyle State Park Rangers

John W. Kyle State Park Rangers will be trained within the park by higher-ranking Park Rangers (II through IV) or by Park Assistant Managers or Park Managers.

Due to the abundance of campers, swimmers, fishermen and boaters visiting the park each year, It is important for new park rangers at John W. Kyle State Park to learn the basics of:

  • Fire safety and management
  • Boating safety
  • Lifeguarding
  • First aid
  • CPR and other related skills

Tishomingo State Park

Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The Natchez Trace Parkway, a modern scenic parkway that was a trade route in the 1800s, runs through the park. Mississippi’s highest point, Woodall Mountain, can be found within a short drive of the park.

Camping occurs at the park’s 62 campsites. There are also cabins and cottages within the park available to the visiting public to rent. Tishomingo State Park contains a 13-mile hiking trail system that traverses all types of terrain and offers beautiful vistas. Additionally, visitors may play Disc Golf on some of the trails and rent the discs at the park office.

Some visitors may enjoy taking a 6.25-mile float trip down Bear Creek by canoe. Other activities within the park include an outdoor swimming pool, rock climbing, fishing, picnicking and boating in one’s own boat. Park rangers at Tishomingo State Park lead interpretive trail walks, canoe trips, and offer educational programs to the public.

Training Required for Park Rangers at Tishomingo State Park

Training for new park rangers at Tishomingo State Park occurs primarily on the job. New park rangers will learn about the man-made historical sites and natural features of the park so that they can provide accurate information to the public through interpretive programs. They will be expected to become experts in the park’s wildlife, landscape, plants, fish, and more unique features and aspects.

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