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New Jersey Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

The New Jersey State Park Police patrols the State’s 54 parks, forest and recreational areas, along with its 130 natural trust preserves. In total, New Jersey’s park police service is responsible for the management of more than 448,000 acres in the state and for the oversight of the more than 18 million people that visit here every year.

Just a few of the most popular state parks managed by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry of the Department of Environmental Protection, include:

  • High Point State Park
  • Island Beach State Park
  • Wharton State Forest
  • Liberty State Park
  • Cape May Point State Park

Qualifying to Work for the National Park Service in New Jersey

New Jersey is home to a number of beautiful parks and sites that are maintained by the National Park Service (NPS), including:

  • Thomas Edison National Historical Park
  • New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
  • New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
  • Great Egg Harbor River
  • Gateway National Recreation Area
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Individuals who want to work as NPS park rangers in New Jersey must meet the Service’s strict employment requirements, which include:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must possess a valid state driver’s license
  • Must meet the requirements of the GS-5 federal level

All NPS park rangers, whether serving in a cultural/interpretive or a protective/law enforcement capacity, must meet the GS-5 level requirements, which include possessing one or more of the following:

    • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, along with at least 24 semester credit hours in a topics related to the field, including (but not limited to):
      • History
      • Archeology
      • Anthropology
      • Park and recreation management
      • Law enforcement/police science
      • Social sciences
      • Museum sciences
      • Business administration
      • Public administration; OR

  • At least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-4 federal level; OR
  • A combination of education and experience

Applicants for protective/law enforcement park ranger jobs with the NPS must meet additional requirements, as these professional serve as certified law enforcement officers.

All new park rangers with the NPS must successfully complete a course of training, which is organized and overseen by the NPS’ Learning and Development Center.

New Jersey Park Ranger Job Description

New Jersey State park police officers are dedicated to safeguarding New Jersey resources through the prevention of crime, the apprehension of criminals, and the enforcement of all criminal and civil laws of the state, which includes the enforcement of park regulations. Therefore, New Jersey State park police officers have the same law enforcement authority as police officers at every level throughout the state.

Just a few of the job duties of the NJ park police include:

  • Responding to public safety emergencies
  • Responding to environmental emergencies
  • Patrolling on foot and with bikes and other motorized vehicles
  • Patrolling with K-9s
  • Providing courteous and knowledgeable assistance and services to the public
  • Providing mutual aid assistance to all federal law enforcement agencies throughout the Stat
  • Assisting County prosecutor offices in all 21 NJ counties with their Child Abduction Response Teams (CART)
  • Serving as part of the NJ Coastal Evacuation Plan for the Counties of Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean, and Monmouth

How to Become a Park Ranger with New Jersey’s Division of Parks and Forestry

State Park Police Office Trainee Requirements

Individuals who want to learn how to become a New Jersey State park police officer are best served by first meeting the requirements to become a State Park Police officer trainee. Trainees work under close supervision of a high-level law enforcement officer in the State Park Police or the Director of the Division of Park and Forestry.

During this 12-month period of training, new hires are taught the basics of:

  • Providing public assistance
  • Performing law enforcement functions
  • Fostering the protection of natural and physical resources at all state parks, historic sites, recreation areas, forests, marinas, and botanical gardens
  • Acting as a liaison with the public
  • Enforcing laws and regulations regarding the protection and management of the health and safety of people and natural and historical resources

New Appointee Training Requirements

After the successful completion of this training program, trainees receive certification and are sworn in as law enforcement officers. All new appointees are also required to successfully complete an in-house Division training course that includes study in:

  • Standard operating procedures of the State Park Service
  • Fish and wildlife rules, regulations, policies, and procedures
  • Forest Fire Service rules, regulations, policies, and procedures
  • Natural lands management
  • Domestic security
  • The protection and preservation of natural and historic resources
  • Communication and team building skills
  • Cultural diversity
  • Customer service

Further, all appointees are required to complete training and maintain certification as a Certified First Responder and in first aid, CPR, oxygen administration, automatic external defibrillator, and other life-saving equipment. They must also meet all firearm qualifications.

Minimum Requirements for Employment

To qualify for the position of State Park Police officer trainee, applicants must:

  • Have graduated from a high school or vocational school or have a high school equivalency certificate
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a valid NJ driver’s license*

*Applicants may also need to possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or a motorboat operator’s license.

Applicants who achieve a spot on the eligible list are required to successfully pass a thorough medical and psychological examination.

Individuals who want to become New Jersey State park police may email a letter of interest, along with a current resume, to stateparkpolice@dep.state.nj.us.

New Jersey Park Ranger Salaries

In New Jersey, park rangers work on a seasonal basis and work as part of the Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry. Some of the parks which employ park rangers seasonally include High Point State Park in Sussex, Cheesequake State Park in Matawan, Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park, and Belleplain State Forest in Woodbine.

Although park rangers hold seasonal positions, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission did recognize their contributions and increase New Jersey park ranger salaries as of January 1, 2014, from $8.98 per hour to $10.15 per hour.

There are also opportunities at the federal level through the Department of the Interior working locally in New Jersey:

Park Ranger (Interpretation) (Highlands, New Jersey)

  • Annual Salary: $35,900

Park Ranger (Visitor Services Specialist) (Oceanville, New Jersey)

  • Minimum: $33,742
  • Midpoint: $43,870

It’s important to recognize that because park rangers take on a variety of tasks in their profession, they are often donned with various titles which are seen in the tables below:

Recreation Workers Salaries in New Jersey

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
720
25440
Atlantic City-Hammonton NJ
290
24580
Camden NJ Metropolitan Division
1590
25420
Edison-New Brunswick NJ Metropolitan Division
3090
27220
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
3320
26210
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
14400
30510
Ocean City NJ
250
29000
Trenton-Ewing NJ
370
24370
Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton NJ
80
34180
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
630
24770

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in New Jersey

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
Estimate Not Released
18640
Edison-New Brunswick NJ Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
22130
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
29140
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
1330
33190
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
26250

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in New Jersey

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
280
19260
Atlantic City-Hammonton NJ
100
30650
Camden NJ Metropolitan Division
240
20360
Edison-New Brunswick NJ Metropolitan Division
710
23420
Newark-Union NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
1170
20030
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
4010
23830
Ocean City NJ
110
28540
Trenton-Ewing NJ
190
19880
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
140
Estimate Not Released

Cape May Point State Park

Cape May Point State Park, within the popular seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey, is a beautiful State park that is ideally situated on the southern tip of the state. Cape May Point State Park, like New Jersey’s 54 other state parks, forests, and recreation areas, is under the management of the New Jersey Division of Park and Forestry, within the Department of Environmental Protection.

Known as the Queen of Seaside Resorts, Cape May features world-renowned beaches, a picturesque promenade, and one of the largest collections of 19th century framed buildings. In fact, the entire city was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The Island of Cape May includes three municipalities: Cape May, Cape May Point, and West Cape May. Cape May Point State Park, which is located in Cape May Point, features a number of popular amenities and features that draw thousands of tourists and local visitors every year.

Serving the Visitors and Wildlife of Cape May Point State Park

The New Jersey Park Police are responsible for patrolling all areas of the park and ensuring that visitors are abiding by all park rules and regulations. Their work includes protecting the resources of New Jersey, including its State parks, through the apprehension of criminals, the prevention of crime, and the enforcement of all laws in the state. However, these park professionals can also often be found providing assistance to park visitors and answering questions.

  • Cape May Point Natural Area: The Cape May Point Natural Area, which encompasses 153 acres, features a number of picturesque trails that lead visitors to a multitude of coastal dune, marsh, and forest habitats. This natural area is popular for wildlife viewing, as it boasts a wide variety of East Coast resident and migratory birds.
  • Cape May Lighthouse: Often considered to the jewel of Cape May Point State Park, visitors flock here to view the beautiful, 157-foot Cape May Lighthouse. This historical lighthouse, which is still in use, is open to the public. It was built in 1859 using the bricks from the original 1847 lighthouse.
  • Trails: The beauty of Cape May Point State Park is often appreciated by walking the park’s many trails, which include:
    • Red Trail: This half-mile trail offers access to two different ponds, each of which is home to a number of birds, including osprey, ducks, and swans.
    • Yellow Trail: This one-and-a-half-mile trail takes visitors through wetland marshes, coastal dunes, and beach habitats.
    • Blue Trail: The two-mile Blue Trail offers a number of habitats for wildlife viewing. It also takes visitors along the beach and coastal dune areas.

Visitors to Cape May Point State Park also come here to fish, to picnic, and to participate in the park’s many historical and natural interpretive programs. The park features an environmental center with a museum and a classroom where interpretive classroom programs are arranged for school students. Some of the most popular interpretive programs include hawk banding demonstrations in the fall and late summer/fall monarch butterfly banding demonstrations.

Cape May Point is known as a major migratory route for sea birds, songbirds, dragonflies, monarch butterflies, horseshoe crabs, and hawks. Cape May plays host to the annual migration of the horseshoe crab along the Delaware Bay, which come here to lay their eggs. It is also one of the most significant hawk migration routes in North America. Hundreds of hawks are counted as they pass by along the Cape May peninsula on their way south.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is managed by the National Park Service (NPS), is a massive, 70,000-acre Recreation Area that extends from the central section of the Delaware River in New Jersey into parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It is the largest recreation area in the eastern United States.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area envelops about 40 miles of the Middle Delaware River and cuts through the mountain ridge, thereby forming a “water gap.” The park is recognized as a site of geological, historical and recreational significance.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is the tenth most visited site within the National Park System, as more than 5 million visitors flock here every year.

Working in The Largest Recreation Area in the Eastern United States

The work of the NPS park rangers here is extensive and all encompassing, as these park professionals are engaged in everything from park patrol and enforcement to interpretive activities and conservation efforts. The sheer size of the park and the massive numbers of visitors makes the work of NPS park rangers crucial to the park’s success.

Just a few of the NPS statistics of this massive National Recreation Area include:

  • Park size: 69,269 acres
  • Annual budget: $8.2 million
  • Staff: 90 permanent employees and about 75 seasonal employees
  • More than 95 miles of hiking trails, including 66 named trails
  • 2 campgrounds: Dingmans Campground in Pennsylvania and Worthington State Forest in New Jersey
  • 216 picnic sites
  • 6 boat launches
  • 6 canoe launches
  • 2 group campsites
  • More than 150 natural and artificial lakes
  • About 600 wetland areas
  • 4, major waterfalls: Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey and Raymondskill, Hombecks Creeks, and Dingmans in Pennsylvania
  • 487 archeological sites
  • 260 miles of roads
  • 26 bridges
  • 60 dams

Recreation sites within Pennsylvania include:

  • Milford Beach
  • Tom’s Creek
  • Bushkill Village
  • Hidden Lake
  • Loch Lomond
  • Smithfield Beach
  • Hialeah Picnic Area

Recreation sites in New Jersey include:

  • Namanock Recreation Site
  • Watergate Recreation Site
  • Turtle Beach
  • Kittatinny Point

The Archeological and Historical Significance of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

There are many significant Native American archeological sites throughout this National Recreation Area. Evidence shows that Native Americans came to Delaware River Valley nearly 10,000 years ago.

Further, a number of Dutch settlement structures still stand here. The entire region was a frontier during the French and Indian War, with a number of historic rural villages from the 18th and 19th centuries still standing on the New Jersey side of the park. Other landscapes of past settlements can be found throughout the park, as well.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is home to the Minisink Archeological Site National Historic Landmark, which features 19 archeological properties and standing historic structures.

This National Recreation Area has nearly 470,000 archeological items, 40,000 historic objects, a museum collection of more than 8,000 items of historic significance, and more than 600,000 items in its park archives.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area also encompasses the following Historic Districts:

  • Millville Historic District, New Jersey
  • Peters Valley Historic District, New Jersey
  • Walpak Historic District, New Jersey
  • Old Mine Road Historic District, New Jersey

Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park is the most popular of New Jersey’s state parks, attracting more than four million visitors every year. This 1,200-acre State park, which is managed by the State Park Police, within the Division of Park and Forestry, is home to the historic Central Railroad New Jersey Terminal, a significant piece of New Jersey’s transportation history.

Given the significance of the park’s many features and the need for comprehensive security and enforcement, the New Jersey State Park police have a strong presence at Liberty State Park. These park professionals ensure the safety and enjoyment of all park visitors through enforcement and patrol. They are also on hand to answer questions, provide assistance, and ensure that all visitors are following the park’s rules and regulations.

The History and Significance of Liberty State Park

The land that is now Liberty State Park once served as a waterfront industrial area that was home to an extensive freight and passenger transportation network, with the heart of the network being the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.

Along with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal stands as a symbol of America’s immigration story. Years later, following the decline of the railroads and industry, the land became abandoned. However, the development of Liberty State Park in 1976 became New Jersey’s bicentennial gift to the nation. The majority of the park is open space, with about 300 of the park’s 1,200 acres developed for public recreation.

Attractions at Liberty State Park

There are plenty of reasons why visitors flock to New Jersey’s Liberty State Park:

  • Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial: This memorial serves to honor the 749 people who either lived in New Jersey or had close ties to the state and who perished in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This memorial features twin stainless steel walls on which the names of the individuals are engraved.
  • Liberty Walk: The Liberty Walk is a two-mile promenade that links the park’s picnic area, interpretive center, and terminal, all the while offering fantastic view of Manhattan and the Hudson River.
  • Outdoor performance area: Liberty State Park is home to a new performance area.
  • Liberty Science Center: The Liberty Science Center is an interactive science museum located on the western portion of the park.
  • Ferry Service: Ferry service shuttles visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and the park is home to a number of interpretive centers that provide visitors with historical background information on these famous American sites.
  • Recreational activities: Liberty State Park is home to a number of recreational activities, including boating and canoeing on the Hudson River and New York Bay and a number of nature trails for hiking and biking. It is also the site of the popular Fourth of July fireworks.
  • Interpretive Center: The Interpretive Center at Liberty State park serves as an environmental and historical education facility that focuses on the natural history and ecology of the Hudson River Estuary. A number of school and community group programs take place here.
  • Nature Interpretive Center: The Nature Interpretive Center, although closed due to Hurricane Sandy storm damage, is typically opened for guided bird walks and estuary explorations. Just a few of the programs offered here include:
    • Low Tide Beach Walk
    • Volunteer Beach Clean-Up
    • Explore the Estuary
    • Fall Bird Walk
    • Fall Foliage Walk
    • Winter Waterfowl Walk
    • Kayak Eco Tours

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