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New Hampshire Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Although New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the United States, it is rich with natural resources that provide citizens and visitors ample opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities. New Hampshire’s recreational attractions include hiking in the White Mountain National Forest, fishing and hunting in the many lakes and forests, and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.

New Hampshire boasts 75 state parks, which offer everything from beaches to campgrounds to historic sites. Because of the large number of parks and the fact that it has the highest percentage of timberland in the country, New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation has several different types of employment opportunities, including forest rangers and park managers.

How to Become a Park Manager in New Hampshire

Park manager positions fall under the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation through one of three offices:

  • Bureau of Park Operations
  • Bureau of Trails
  • Bureau of Historic Sites
  • Cannon Mountain, the state-owned ski area located in Franconia Notch State Park

A Park Manager is responsible for general park operations and maintenance, preparing reports and making recommendations about plans and policies for the state park operation, supervise projects and maintenance duties in the park, and oversee safety policies, rules, and regulations.

Education and experience requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in business management, parks management, recreation, natural resources management or similar field (additional education can be substituted for work experience)
  • Three years’ experience in park management and operations or related work. (Additional work experience may be substituted for a year of education)

General requirements for becoming a Park Manager in New Hampshire include:

  • Eligible for a New Hampshire driver’s license
  • Good communication skills with employees and general public
  • Able to work in both an administrative setting as well as outside in the elements
  • Knowledge and concern for the care and upkeep of the state’s natural resources and the safety of visitors

The state of New Hampshire is divided into three regions and two management areas under the Bureau of Park Operations. These include the Great North Woods Region, Central Region, South/Seacoast Region, Mount Washington State Park, and Franconia Notch State Park. The 75 state park properties fall within these regions.

How to Become a Forest Ranger in New Hampshire

Forest Rangers in New Hampshire are the backbone of forest protection. This job falls under the umbrella of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands, Forest Protection Bureau.

This group of highly skilled rangers is responsible for overseeing the wild land fire control program as well enforcing the laws regarding timber harvesting, wild land fires, and overall protection of forests. Forest Rangers also enforce all state laws for the protection of persons and property on any Department of Resources and Economic Development-controlled lands, including state forests and parks.

Education and experience qualifications include:

  • Associate’s degree with study in forestry, natural resources, fire science, criminal justice, or similar fields
  • Two years of experience in forestry, fire science, or criminal justice (additional years of education may be substituted for work experience)

Basic qualifications of a Forest Ranger in New Hampshire include:

  • Minimum of 21 years of age
  • Successful completion of a written examination which measures knowledge, skill, and abilities necessary for this job
  • Passing a strength and agility test to measure the ability to perform the physical aspects of this job
  • Medical examination
  • Background investigation (no convictions of serious offenses)

During the probationary period, Forest Rangers in New Hampshire must successfully complete the requirements to become a certified Forest Ranger (qualified to fight forest fires) and the training program to become a certified police officer.

How to Join the National Park Service in New Hampshire

New Hampshire has several national parks, forests, historic sites, and natural landmarks that are cared for by the National Park Service, which is in the Department of the Interior. Two examples include:

  • The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, a 2,184 mile long public footpath that starts in Maine, traverses the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, and continues south, ending in Georgia
  • The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, which is the home, studios, and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s greatest sculptors

Degree requirements to become a national park ranger:

  • Bachelor’s degree with 24 hours of courses in fish and wildlife management, recreation management, law enforcement or other related fields (equivalent work experience may be considered)

Minimum Requirements to be a US Park Ranger:

  • US citizen
  • Background investigation
  • Selective Service Registration (if required)
  • Possess or be eligible to obtain a state driver’s license
  • Certified Emergency Medical Responder or similar certification

The work of a US Park Ranger may involve standing and walking for long periods of time, including hiking over rough surfaces or inclines while carrying rescue gear and tools. Other responsibilities may include operating a motorboat, monitoring park facilities, and performing trail and campground maintenance duties.

Application for federal park ranger vacancies can be made through USAJobs.

New Hampshire Park Ranger Salaries

In New Hampshire, the employment of park rangers occurs through New Hampshire Parks & Recreation, which operates under the scope of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. According to the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services, the beginning park ranger salary in New Hampshire is $23,836.80.

As such, there are currently eight steps in the pay plan for park rangers:

Park Guide I

  • Step 1: $23,836.80
  • Step 2: $24,689.60
  • Step 3: $25,688
  • Step 4: $26,665.60
  • Step 5: $27,705.60
  • Step 6: $28,745.60
  • Step 7: $29,806.40
  • Step 8: $31,033.60

Park Guide II

  • Step 1: $25,688
  • Step 2: $26,665.60
  • Step 3: $27,705.60
  • Step 4: $28,745.60
  • Step 5: $29,806.40
  • Step 6: $31,033.60
  • Step 7: $32,177.60
  • Step 8: $33,446.40

Park rangers can also consider management positions. The salary for park managers in New Hampshire can range anywhere from $25,688 for an entry-level manager and $52,811.20 for the most experienced.

The table below includes a variety of occupational titles sometimes attached to park rangers. These are mainly entry-level salary figures:

Recreation Workers Salaries in New Hampshire

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury MA-NH NECTA Division
340
25610
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem MA-NH NECTA Division
Estimate Not Released
23930
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford MA-NH NECTA Division
140
31760
Manchester NH
230
24490
Nashua NH-MA NECTA Division
350
23620
Portsmouth NH-ME
150
32310
Rochester-Dover NH-ME
140
26120
Northern New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
90
27940
Other New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
280
27900
Western New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
150
26610
Southwestern New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
120
23890

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in New Hampshire

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Portsmouth NH-ME
50
19640
Other New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
40
25260

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in New Hampshire

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem MA-NH NECTA Division
50
22090
Nashua NH-MA NECTA Division
70
19960
Northern New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
40
21410
Other New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
50
22650
Western New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area
60
24210

Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park straddles eight miles of New Hampshire’s Interstate 93 as the winding highway passes through the spectacular Franconia Notch, a pass between the peaks of the Franconia and Kinsman mountain ranges. Located in the middle of the White Mountains National Forest, the park extends from Flume Gorge in the south to Echo Lake in the north.

Franconia Notch State Park is under the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. The interpretive park rangers who work at the state parks are highly trained young adult members of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) New Hampshire Corps.

What to See and Do at Franconia State Park in New Hampshire

Franconia Notch State Park has an abundance of natural wonders including lakes, rivers, waterfalls and forests. Natural and manmade attractions of special interest are:

  • Flume Gorge – The natural gorge extends 800 feet at the base of Mt. Liberty. Its granite walls rise to a height of 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. There is a boardwalk for visitors to get close-up views.
  • Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site – Unfortunately, the old man that was extolled by Nathanial Hawthorne and Daniel Webster collapsed during a 2003 storm. Visitors can view the ledge that was once the old man’s neck and learn about its history in the visitor center.
  • The Basin – A pothole in the Pemigewasset River is 30 feet in diameter and 15-feet deep, allowing water to cascade into the hole and swirl around the granite walls. Henry David Thoreau called it one of New England’s “most remarkable curiosities.”
  • Boise Rock – The enormous glacial erratic is an important part of New Hampshire folklore.
  • Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway – The first aerial tramway in the U.S. (built in 1935) takes visitors on an eight-minute ride to the 4,200-foot summit of Cannon Mountain where riders can enjoy the observation deck, gift shop, cafeteria and other amenities before the return trip.
  • New England Ski Museum – Opened in 1982, it tells the story of the history and development of skiing since its ancient origins.
  • Pemigewasset River Covered Bridge – One of the most famous of New Hampshire’s 650 covered bridges crosses the Pemigewasset River in Franconia Notch. Covered bridges in NH are protected as historic landmarks.

Popular activities at Franconia Notch State Park include:

  • Camping – 97 wooded tent sites
  • Rock climbing – Cannon cliffs
  • Fishing – Profile Lake (trout)
  • Mountain Biking – Recreational Trail
  • Hiking
  • Skiing (winter)
  • Guided nature walks
  • Educational programs
  • Children’s activities

Duties of Interpretive Rangers at New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park

The responsibilities and duties of interpretive rangers include:

  • Prepare and deliver educational programs
  • Lead nature walks
  • Develop and/conduct activity programs for children and youths
  • Provide hiking, biking and other information
  • Applying CPR or first aid when required
  • Protect and conserve park wildlife and other natural resources
  • Give interpretive talks at  sites of special attractions
  • Patrol trails and campsites
  • Provide information at visitor centers

Meet Two Interpretive Rangers at Franconia Notch State Park

Nicole Juppe received her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Chicago’s Loyola University with a minor focus on the environment and nature studies. Her desire to work outdoors led her to the SCA interpretive ranger program in New Hampshire. She was excited about being assigned to Franconia Notch where she said she is “looking forward to learning more about the park and spending time with the visitors.”

Deb Brzozowski said her love of the outdoors led her to earn her bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Parks and Leisure at the University of Minnesota. She was happy to be accepted at the SCA program in New Hampshire and is eager to work at the park. She related that she has “prepared interactive, fun programs for families and children to introduce them to the unique offerings at Franconia Notch.”

Pawtuckaway State Park

Named for Pawtuckaway Lake and Mountains, the 5,000-acre park is one of the largest state parks in southeastern New Hampshire. Located in the town of Nottingham, Pawtuckaway Park has a family beach on the west side of the 783-acre lake noted for its numerous coves and small islands. Visitors have access to Pawtuckaway year round but it is only officially open and staffed from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

The park is under the jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. Its park rangers (called Interpretive Rangers), are members of the Student Conservation Association.

Serving as a Park Ranger at New Hampshire’s Pawtuckaway State Park

The facilities at Pawtuckaway include a large family beach on the lake, a boat launch, camp store, canoe and kayak rentals, 15 miles of hiking trails and 192 campsites plus five furnished cabins that have electricity and sleep six. The park is also a venue for orienteering clubs and meetings. Regular activities include:

  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking*
  • Mountain biking
  • Boulder climbing – reputed to have the state’s best bouldering
  • Geocaching (game in which participants use a GPS system to find hidden caches)
  • Snowmobiling
  • Cross-country skiing

*Hiking trails are of varying degrees of difficulty and lead to such points of interest as:

  • Mountain top fire tower
  • 900-foot summit
  • Marshy area that attracts blue herons, beavers, deer and other wildlife
  • Geographically unique field of glacial erratics (large boulders that were deposited when glaciers melted at the end of the ice age)

The following are duties/responsibilities of interpretive rangers at Pawtuckaway:

  • Developing and conducting evening campfire programs
  • Leading nature walks
  • Developing/conducting programs and activities for children
  • Patrolling trails / providing hiker information
  • Applying CPR or first aid when required
  • Assisting injured animals
  • Protecting park animals and natural resources
  • Ensuring that park rules and regulations are followed

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