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Missouri Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Park rangers in Missouri may be employed with the National Park Service or the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks, based upon the type of park in which they work (federal vs. state). Both types of park rangers must meet certain educational, experiential and basic qualifications prior to applying for the job.

Park Rangers in Missouri are responsible for law enforcement within state and federal parks throughout the state, which include 52 state parks, the most famous being:

  • Route 66 State Park near St. Louis
  • Table Rock Lake State Park near Springfield
  • Watkins Mill State Park near Kansas City
  • Weston Bend State Park near Kansas City

According to the Missouri Office of Administration Department of Personnel, as of March 2014 the annual salary range for a state park ranger is $35,844 to $50,592, while the salary range for interpretive resource specialists is between $29,676 and $41,520 annually.

Steps to Becoming a Park Ranger with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Meet Experience and Education Prerequisites – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks has two ways for prospective park rangers to enter the Missouri State Parks system – through becoming a Park Ranger Recruit or a Park Ranger.

The difference between the jobs is the amount of education and experience possessed by the applicant.

  • Park Ranger Recruits must have completed 60 semester hours of collect credit, with at least 15 of those credits in behavioral sciences, criminal justice or law enforcement courses
  • Park Rangers must have graduated from a Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission-approved law enforcement academy

Prerequisites Applicable to Both Types of Jobs – Both Park Ranger Recruits and Park Rangers must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a valid Missouri driver’s license
  • Pass a physical performance test
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass an oral interview
  • Pass a psychological exam
  • Pass a medical exam and drug screen
  • Have no objectionable tattoos or brands (not allowed to be on the neck, head, below the upper arm or on the hands)

Training for Missouri Park Ranger Jobs – Park Ranger Recruits must complete training at a Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission-approved law enforcement academy. A list of approved training centers may be found here. Courses include (but are not limited to):

  • Constitutional law
  • Missouri Statutory Law
  • Traffic law
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • Human behavior
  • Law enforcement
  • Report writing
  • First responder
  • Defensive tactics
  • Firearms
  • Physical training
  • Driver training

All Missouri Park Rangers must complete annual in-service trainings in defensive tactics, firearms, expandable baton, criminal law updates, pepper mace, first aid, CPR, emergency vehicle operation and defensive driving.

Becoming a Park Ranger with the National Park Service in Missouri

Missouri is home to 12 facilities and recreational areas operated by the National Park Service:

  • Harry S. Truman National Historic Site- Independence and Grandview
  • California National Historical Trail
  • George Washington Carver National Monument – Diamond
  • Oregon Trail National Historical Trail
  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis
  • Lewis and Clark National Historical Trail
  • Ulysses S. Grant National Historical Site in St. Louis
  • Santa Fe National Historical Trail
  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, Eminence, Salem and Winona
  • Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic
  • Trail of Tears National Historical Trail

In order to become a federal park ranger in Missouri eligible to work at one of the above-mentioned national park areas, an applicant must:

  • Be 21 years old or more
  • Have a valid Missouri driver’s license
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Pass a Physical Efficiency Battery test
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass a medical exam and drug screen
  • Satisfy education and experience qualifications for GS-7 park ranger jobs by meeting one of the following requirements:
    • Have 12 months of experience focusing on law enforcement in a natural resources setting

OR

    • Complete 18 semester hours of education related to a park ranger job

OR

    • Have a combination of experience and education

Missouri Park Ranger Salaries

According to the Missouri Office of Administration, Division of Personnel, Missouri park ranger salaries begin at $35,844 and top out at $60,720. There are also park rangers who work in more of a historical context and are responsible for interpreting and conveying the history of the parks. Their salaries can range anywhere from $29,676 to $52,680. It’s important to note that park rangers are officially employed by Missouri State Parks, which actually falls under the larger umbrella of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Here is a look at how park rangers in Missouri are ranked and paid:

Park Ranger Recruit

  • Minimum: $33,408
  • Maximum: $47,412

Park Ranger

  • Minimum: $35,844
  • Maximum: $50,592

Park Ranger Corporal

  • Minimum: $38,544
  • Maximum: $54,864

Park Ranger Sergeant

  • Minimum: $41,520
  • Maximum: $60,720

Shown here are the salary figures of park rangers considered historical specialists:

Park/Historic Site Specialist I

  • Minimum: $29,676
  • Maximum: $41,520

Park/Historic Site Specialist II

  • Minimum: $34,596
  • Maximum: $48,636

Park/Historic Site Specialist III

  • Minimum: $37,176
  • Maximum: $52,680

The table below has been published by the U.S. Department of Labor and includes salaries among park rangers in Missouri, the variety of roles they perform as well as respective salaries:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Missouri

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Cape Girardeau-Jackson MO-IL
90
25130
Columbia MO
140
32630
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR-MO
370
24460
Jefferson City MO
210
26020
Joplin MO
140
18800
Kansas City MO-KS
1870
25000
St. Joseph MO-KS
130
24430
St. Louis MO-IL
3770
23550
Springfield MO
980
22390
Central Missouri nonmetropolitan area
450
22130
North Missouri nonmetropolitan area
180
24650
Southeast Missouri nonmetropolitan area
280
24200
Southwest Missouri nonmetropolitan area
200
22270

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Missouri

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR-MO
40
23590
St. Louis MO-IL
640
25320
Southeast Missouri nonmetropolitan area
100
17790

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Missouri

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR-MO
40
20350
Jefferson City MO
40
18850
Kansas City MO-KS
880
18580
St. Louis MO-IL
2740
17990
Springfield MO
120
18750
Central Missouri nonmetropolitan area
200
17290
North Missouri nonmetropolitan area
90
16860

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Missouri’s park rangers that serve as public educators are known as Interpretive Resource Specialists and offer tours and programs at the parks famous European-style castle. In a separate role, park rangers at Ha Ha Tonka State Park are charged with protecting the natural resources of the park and keeping visitors safe as they enjoy the sites, landmarks and amenities the park has to offer.

The Historical Significance and Natural Wonders of Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Named after the Native American words for “laughing waters,” Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton, Missouri is unique in that it contains the remnants of a modern-day castle. Robert Snyder purchased 2500 acres of land in the Ha Ha Tonka area in 1905 and at that time started construction on a 1500s era European-style castle. In 1978, the state of Missouri purchased the estate and opened it as a state park. Ha Ha Tonka State Park sits on the Lake of the Ozarks, and the castle overlooks this beautiful lake.

Interpretive Resource Specialists at the park must be familiar with the woodland landscape found within. These areas called woodlands contain both prairie grasses and bluestem, and offers open forests of white oak, black hickory, blackjack oak and post oak. Additionally, Ha Ha Tonka State Park contains over 400 species of plants. Trails run through the Ha Ha Tonka Oak Woodland Natural Area, including a seven-mile backpack trail and an easier, shorter self-guided nature trail.

Although many visitors to Ha Ha Tonka State Park come to view the castle, there are many other worthwhile activities within the park. The park contains many trails and boardwalks, making traversing the varied landscape easier. Visitors will find sinkholes, caves, springs, caverns and tunnels throughout Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Park rangers at Harry S. Truman National Historic Site function as interpreters and historians that help convey an understanding of the former President’s life to interested visitors. It’s been said that they help visitors feel as if they are walking through a home that is still inhabited by the Truman family. It is also the responsibility of park rangers to protect the artifacts found within the site and make sure that they are safely preserved for generations to come.

The Legacy of the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site in Missouri

The Harry S. Truman National Historic Site is maintained by the National Park Service and was designated as a National Historic Site in 1983. Located in Jackson County, Missouri, the site includes many buildings and monuments relevant to the life of the 33rd President of the United States. Park rangers at Harry S. Truman National Historic Site lead visitors on tours of all of these structures, one of which is the Truman Home at 219 N. Delaware Street in Independence. Each year, according to the NPS, park rangers take more than 30,000 visitors on tours of the home Truman shared with his wife Bess, with each tour limited to eight visitors. Rangers bring the artifacts of the house to life, allowing visitors to form their own pictures in their mind of what life at the Truman home was like. The home represents a time capsule of 1950s life and culture.

Another important historical landmark within Harry S. Truman National Historical Site is the Truman Farm Home, located in Grandview about 15 miles from the Truman Home. This home was built by Truman’s maternal grandmother in 1894 and today represents just a part (five acres) of the former 600-acre farm. Truman moved with his family in 1922 and learned the farming trade there. Recently, the interior of the Truman Farm Home was closed to the public. However, visitors may still tour the grounds of the home.

The Truman Home and Visitor Center are open to visitors year-round, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Tour fees for the Truman Home are $4 per adult age 16 and over (children 15 and under may tour for free).

Mark Twain State Park

Mark Twain State Park is located in Florida, Missouri, the town of Twain’s birthplace. The 2775-acre park in Monroe County houses the 18,600-acre Mark Twain Lake, Soaring Eagles Golf Course, trails for hiking and skiing and much more.

Prospective park rangers in Mark Twain State Park must first decide if they wish to work in:

  • Law enforcement – Law enforcement rangers are responsible for law enforcement duties and responsibilities within the park.

OR

  • Interpretation – Interpretive Resource Specialists enjoy more visitor contact, presenting educational and interpretive programs to visitors and explaining the history, nature and beauty of the park.

Training for Mark Twain State Park Ranger Jobs

Mark Twain State Park Ranger Recruits are expected to train at a law enforcement academy approved by the Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission. In Missouri, the closest training academies to Mark Twain State Park are:

  • Missouri State University in Springfield
  • Springfield Police Regional Training Center in Springfield
  • Mineral Area College Law Enforcement Academy in Park Hills

Interpretive Resource Specialists at Mark Twain State Park will receive on-the-job training. They may also elect to attend training offered by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI).In Missouri, trainers who are NAI-certified may be found in:

  • St. Louis
  • Jefferson City
  • Winona
  • Blue Springs
  • Branson
  • Kirkwood
  • Kansas City
  • St. Charles
  • Patterson

Working as a Park Ranger in Mark Twain State Park

Mark Twain State Park is open year-round (although the beach is closed during the winter months). Camping is a popular pastime at the park, with basic and electric campsites offered. Park rangers within the park enforce the rules and regulations all year. Under the direction of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Department of Public Safety, they have the authority as commissioned peace officers to preserve the peace within Mark Twain State Park, maintain order and arrest persons for violating the law anywhere within the park’s boundaries.

Plants and animals found with the park, with which Interpretive Resource Specialists must become familiar, include bats, raccoons, foxes, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, mosses, lichens, red oak, sugar maple, white oak, leadplant, cream wild indigo, Indian grass and big bluestem. Interpretive Resource Specialists may also offer educational tours and trail hikes within Mark Twain State Park.

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