California’s immense State park system, which boasts some 280 parks across the state, includes some of the most diverse and well-maintained natural, cultural, and recreational resources in the country. In fact, the California State Park system is responsible for managing 1.59 million acres of land, including over 339 miles of coastline, 974 miles of water frontage, some 15,000 campsites and camping facilities, and 4,456 miles of trails.
State park rangers serve in a variety of field districts throughout the California State Park system. Park rangers in California perform a variety of unique duties, including but not limited to:
- Program managements
- Resource protection
- Patrol duties primarily by vehicle, boat, and foot
- Law enforcement
- Search and rescue
- Fire management and suppression
- Traffic control
- Specialized assignments
California also has an extensive National park system, with 26 National parks located throughout the state, which recorded 35 million visitors in 2012. National Park rangers work to protect these national treasures and ensure that park goers stay safe and follow park rules while visiting natural and historic landmarks.
Becoming a Park Ranger with the California Department of Parks and Recreation
California State Park rangers serve under the Department of Parks and Recreation. State Park Ranger positions are available at three levels: State Park Ranger Cadet, State Park Ranger, and Supervising State Park Ranger.
State park ranger cadets serve in entry-level positions under close supervision. These positions are ideal for individuals just beginning careers in the park service. Cadets provide law enforcement, as well as visitor services. Cadets also participate in extensive training programs.
State park rangers work as leaders in areas of visitor services, as well as law enforcement and public safety. Park rangers work under the supervision of a supervising ranger. State park rangers often have more experience than Cadets and these positions are often promoted from within.
Supervising state park rangers fill senior positions and serve as chief rangers. Supervising rangers oversee a small to medium staff and operate visitor facilities, as well as perform duties related to safety and enforcement.
California state park ranger jobs at all levels require candidates who have two years (60 credit hours) of study at an accredited college or university with at least 21 credits in general education coursework.
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Penn Foster - Online Wildlife and Forestry Conservation Career Diploma
It is preferred that candidates have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in one of the following areas:
- Park Administration
- Natural Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Law Enforcement
- Business Administration
All levels of state park ranger positions must meet several minimum qualifications:
- Possession of a valid driver’s license
- U.S. citizenship or permanent resident alien status
- Must be 18 years of age
- Ability to pass background check with no felonies
- Physical fitness test and medical examination, including drug screening
Training and Certification Requirements:
State Park rangers at all levels are also required to earn a number of certifications, including:
- Red Cross Advanced First Aid Certificate OR First Responder Certificate
- Red Cross or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate
An approved Department of Health EMT Certificate can sometimes be substituted for the Red Cross certificates
All California State Park Ranger candidates will also undergo training through the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Basic Course Academy. State Park Ranger Cadets will also participate in the Basic Visitor Services Training Program.
Becoming a National Park Ranger with the National Park Service in California
Individuals interested in working in one of California’s many national parks should consider applying for national park ranger positions with the U.S. National Park Service.
Specific requirements for national park ranger positions vary by position, but there are some standard requirements:
- Must be a U.S. citizen
- Must be able to pass a background investigation
- Must possess a valid driver’s license
- Must pass a pre-employment physical
Most positions will require at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university; however, candidates with at least one year of specialized experience at the GS-4 level can qualify with just two years of post-secondary education. Some relevant areas of study include:
- Public administration
- Parks and recreation
- Natural/Earth science
- Natural resources management
- Forestry /Forest management
Specialized experience related to the specific position might include:
- Work as a tour guide, interpreter, or at a visitor center
- Program planning or implementation
- Experience with preservation or research
- Law enforcement experience
- Natural resource management
- Emergency assistance
National Park Ranger positions may require candidates to complete training requirements including but not limited to:
- Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP)
- Basic first aid, CPR, AED and First Responder Certification
- Search and Rescue Certification
California Park Ranger Salaries
The National Park Service reports that California is home to 26 national parks which receive a total of 35.5 million visitors each year. In addition, more than $1.5 billion of economic benefit is attributed to the state’s parks. Yosemite National Park, which covers the counties of Tuolumne, Mariposa, and Madera, is perhaps one of the most well known of California’s state parks.
According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, park rangers are officially recognized as State Park Peace Officers. Information gleaned from the California Department of Human Resources reveals that California park ranger salaries start at $38,532 and $51,756 during the cadet/training period, depending of course on experience. The following is the salary structure on which park rangers in California are paid:
State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger)
- Minimum: $38,532
- Maximum: $51,756
State Park Peace Officer (Ranger)
- Level A
- Minimum: $40,128
- Maximum: $53,604
- Level B
- Minimum: $47,772
- Maximum: $64,440
State Park Peace Officer Supervisor (Ranger)
- Minimum: $55,080
- Maximum: $75,120
Additional entry-level salary data is shown in the tables below. This includes various titles that park rangers in various roles are recognized:
Recreation Workers Salaries in California
Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in California
Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in California
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Nature enthusiasts with the right skills and training may be well suited to become a park ranger in the largest state park in California – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This park is also nationally recognized as the second largest state park in the nation as well as the largest desert in the United States.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park stretches twenty-five miles from east-to-west and runs fifty miles north-to-south which brings its total acres to more than 650,000. Within this perimeter, it is the responsibility of park rangers to oversee and protect the park’s many natural and man-made features:
- Four developed campgrounds
- Seven primitive campgrounds
- Twelve wilderness areas
- 110 miles of riding and hiking trails
- The world’s largest wooden trestle
- A fossil collection numbering 15,000
- 4,500 cultural sites
- 500 miles of roadways
- The Carrizo Badlands
- The Salton Trough
- The Jacumba Mountains
- The Vallecito Mountains
- The Pinyon Mountains
- The Bucksnorts Mountains
- The Santa Rosa Mountains
Park Rangers Improve Customer Relations in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
A major part of park ranger jobs in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is visitor interaction. By developing activities and interpretive programs, park rangers can educate the visiting public while improving their overall experience. Some examples of these activities and programs include:
Naturalists’ Talks: Park rangers may help to deliver naturalists talks to guests. The talks are intended to explain the natural characteristics of the park. Topics may include geology, wildlife and native plants. The talks take approximately forty minutes and occur in outdoors or in indoor classrooms.
Nature Walks: Park rangers may take guests on a guide tour of the park. These tours are usually a leisurely half-mile in length and may take up to forty-five minutes to complete. Nature walks give park rangers a chance to educate the public while allowing them to safely explore the park.
Guided Hikes: Park rangers may take guests on guided hikes of the park. These hikes differ from nature walks in that they are usually more strenuous and over a longer period of time. The location of these hikes may vary, and park rangers may have to navigate over rugged landscapes.
Campfire Programs: Park rangers may be in charge of developing and executing the park’s campfire programs. These programs usually take place on the weekends and during the evening at the Bow Willow, Borrego Palm Canyon and Tamarisk Grove Campgrounds. During these programs, park rangers entertain and educate guests with slide-show presentations, games, stories and songs.
Junior Rangers Program: Park rangers may supervise the park’s Junior Rangers Program. This program is exclusively open to kids ages 7-12 and is and hour in length. Park rangers help the kids to interact with each other while learning about important aspects of the park.
Big Basin Redwoods Park
Big Basin Redwoods State Park was established in 1902, making it the oldest state park in California. As the park’s name suggests, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is renown for its prominent redwood trees. In fact, it claims the largest uninterrupted shelf of ancient redwoods located south of San Francisco. It also features more than 18,000 acres of old and recovering redwood forest. As a result, forest conservation and restoration is a major component of park ranger jobs in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
One of the chief responsibilities of park rangers in Big Basin Redwoods State Park is to protect and manage the park’s natural resources. Some examples of the park’s illustrious natural resources include:
- 5,810 acres of designated wilderness area
- Mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral and riparian habitats
- Three watersheds: Waddell Creek, East Waddell Creek, Scott Creek
- Wildlife: deer, raccoon, coyote, fox, bobcat and mountain lion
- Bird species: California quail, egret, heron, hawk, owl, woodpecker, marbled murrelet
Some job duties that park rangers perform to support natural resource management in Big Basin Redwoods State Park include:
- Patrol designated wilderness areas
- Monitor native bird species
- Research preservation options
- Initiate habitat restoration projects
Serving the Public as a Park Ranger in Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Another aspect of a park ranger’s job in Big Basin Redwoods State Park is to provide a wide-variety of customer services. Some examples of these services include:
- Monitoring family and group campgrounds
- Maintaining hiking, biking and equestrian trails
- Providing volunteer training
- Staffing the Park Headquarters
- Planning and directing events
Some park rangers that work in Big Basin Redwoods State Park serve in law enforcement roles. According to California Department of Parks and Recreation, some law enforcement duties include:
- Issue citations to offending visitors
- Write reports on noteworthy occurrences
- Make arrests for misdemeanors, felonies and warrants
- Perform boat, vehicle and foot patrols
- Conduct criminal investigations
- Respond to emergencies
- Directing traffic controls
- Participate in firefighting missions
Death Valley National Park
Park ranger efforts in supporting tourism have recently made a splash in national news. According to reports by the National Park Service, visitor admission into Death Valley National Park rose to almost one million in 2012. These park visitors bolstered the local economy by spending a staggering $78 million in surrounding areas, which helped to support 929 jobs.
Perhaps the best perk to learning how to become a park ranger in San Bernardino, California is having access to jobs at the world-famous Death Valley National Park. Unfolding across over three million acres, this national park has become synonymous with extreme natural conditions, including:
- The lowest point in North America: 282 feet below sea level
- The driest point in North America: annual rainfall is < 2 inches
- The hottest point in the world: often over 120 degrees in summer
Protective and Interpretive Park Rangers in Death Valley National Park
There are two main types of park rangers that work in Death Valley National Park: Interpretive Park Rangers and Protective Park Rangers. Each type is characterized by a specific set of duties, therefore it is important to understand their distinctive roles.
Interpretive Park Rangers:
The United State Office of Personnel Management defines an interpretive park ranger as one that interprets the natural, archeological, and historical features of an area to augment a visitor’s experience within it. Duties may include:
- Education Programs
Protective Park Rangers:
On the other hand, a protective park ranger is a park ranger that serves to protect visitors by performing a variety of law enforcement functions. Duties may include:
- Patrolling campgrounds
- Monitoring traffic
- Citing park offenders
Natural Resource Management and Other Park Ranger Duties
Park ranger jobs at Death Valley National Park come with the benefit of baring witness to the breath-taking views of snow-covered mountain peaks, grandiose sand dunes, vibrant badlands and craggy canyons of the park’s expansive landscape. Yet the park’s astounding setting requires enormous care and protection.
As the park’s chief advocates, park rangers are expressly responsible for managing, monitoring and defending vital natural resources, including:
- 1,000 plants species such as the desert holly, blackbrush, beavertail cactus and the ephemeral wildflower
- 51 mammal species such as the palid bat, desert shrew, gray fox and the desert bighorn sheep
- 307 bird species such as the marsh wren, hermit thrush, bobolink blackbird and the vesper sparrow
- 36 reptile species such as the desert tortoise, chuckwalla, zebra-tailed lizard and the western blind snake
- 3 amphibian species such as the red spotted toad, pacific treefrog, and the Inyo Mountains slender salamander
Several park rangers act as activities directors for the many organized events offered in Death Valley National Park. As activity directors, park rangers help to enhance visitor experiences by:
- Educating guests through formal talks
- Leading paleontology tours
- Conducting question and answer sessions
- Assisting in special events
- Guiding tours through historical sites
- Directing discovery walks
- Supervising evening hikes
Some park rangers in Death Valley National Park may provide support to the Death Valley Education Team, which provides professional development programs for teachers. To create effective programs, park rangers often collaborate with fellow educators found in universities, non-profit organizations and school districts. These professional development courses could cover topics in:
- Performing arts
- Climate change
- Visual arts
- Environmental education
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Beautiful Marin County, California is home to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The National Parks Conservation Association named Golden Gate National Recreation Area one of the most visited national parks in the United States in 2013, with 14,289,121 visitors that year alone.
According to the National Park service (NPS), which manages the park and hires the rangers that serve it, there are several reasons why so many are drawn to this urban playground:
- The park houses 1,200 historic structures
- The park features nine different cultural landscapes
- The park contains 1,287 diverse plant and animal species
- The park is comprised of nineteen distinctive ecosystems
- The park is has the fourth largest museum collection in the NPS
- The park also manages Fort Point National Historic Site and Muir Woods National Monument
Spanning approximately 80,000 acres and with nearly 15 million visitors a year, retaining a highly trained and experienced staff of park rangers is top priority at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 2010, the NPS hired a total of 339 employees, including:
- 230 permanent employees
- 42 intermediate-term employees
- 67 temporary employees
Interpretation and Protection Park Rangers in Golden Gate Recreational Area
According to the United States Bureau of Land Management, common duties performed by national park rangers may include the following:
- Providing information to the general public
- Conducting permit compliance checks
- Handling safety inspections
- Developing education programs
- Responding to emergency calls
- Maintaining recreational areas
- Monitoring natural resource sites
- Directing interactive hikes
After completing the training and degree requirements needed to work at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, park rangers must decide whether to take on interpretation-based or protection-based roles. Interpretation park rangers focus mainly on visitor education and experience while protection park rangers focus mainly on park control and safety issues.
Duties of Interpretative Park Rangers
- Training co-workers and volunteers
- Staffing the visitor information desk
- Preparing interpretative programs
- Creating wayside exhibits
- Operating the park radio
- Handling phone calls
- Responding to visitor questions
Duties of Protective Park Rangers
- Performing law enforcement patrols
- Documenting motor vehicle accidents
- Responding to emergency situations
- Monitoring park resources
- Investigating disturbances and disputes
- Assisting in search and rescue missions
- Enforcing traffic regulations
Henry W. Coe State Park
Henry W. Coe State Park is made up of more than 87,000 acres of land, making it not only the largest state park in northern California but the second largest in the state. Park rangers serve as the park’s caretakers, responsible for the overall well-being of all natural and man-made components of the park, including:
- Natural features: grasslands, conifer forests and oak woodlands
- Plant life: manzanita, purple needle grass and western rye
- Waterways: Coyote, Pacheco and Orestimba creeks
- Animal life: mountain lions, badgers and wild pigs
- Trail ways: 250 miles of multi-functional trails
Park Rangers and Education Programs in Henry W. Coe State Park
One of the many professional roles held by park rangers in Henry W. Coe State Park is park educator. Local schools often organize fieldtrips for students at the park therefore, park rangers lead educational programs to teach students about the park’s natural environment through:
- Slide-show presentations
- Explorative hikes
- Hands-on group activities
- Interactive games
During these educational programs, park rangers instruct on a variety of subjects that directly affect the park’s complex ecosystem, for example:
- Plant identification
- Natural life cycles
- Environmental Conservation
- Weather patterns
- Interdependent relationships
- Stream Studies
Park Ranger Interpretive Programs at Henry W. Coe State Park
Part of park ranger jobs in Henry W. Coe State Park is to provide guidance and support to the Pine Ridge Association’s interpretive programs, including:
Wildflower Walks: Park rangers and volunteer staff lead visitors in guided tours throughout the park’s many walking trails. The walks take place in the spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
Ranger Led Hikes: Park rangers and volunteer staff educate visitors about the park’s natural features while leading down different hiking trails varying in length, location and difficulty.
Evening Programs: Park rangers and volunteers hold informational talks in the park’s Volunteer Center. Talks may cover topics regarding the park’s human history, wild animal presence, native plants and geographical history.
Professional Associations for Park Rangers Assigned to Henry W. Coe State Park
A great way for park rangers that work in state parks, like Henry W. Coe State Park, to stay current with up-to-date innovations, issues and occupational standards in the field is to join a professional association such as the Park Rangers Association of California (PRAC). Not only do professional associations offer a source of resources, support and information but also typically provide:
- Professional certifications
- Educational classes
- Training opportunities
- Scholarship programs
- Discussion forums
- Occupational newsletters
More examples of professional associations for park rangers include:
- California State Park Rangers Association (CSPRA)
- Park Law Enforcement Association (PLEA)
- International Ranger Federation (IRF)
Joshua Tree National Park
The National Park Service reports that in 2012 Joshua Tree National Park hosted nearly 1.4 million guests. These visitors not only supported the park, but also pumped $62,175,800 into the surrounding communities, helping to support some 770 local jobs.
Located in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, Joshua Tree National Park is a desert haven expanding across almost 800,000 acres with 585,000 acres of declared wilderness. This beloved national park was first put on the map when it became a national monument in 1936. In 1994, it rose to even greater significance when it earned its national park status. Since its inception, the number of park rangers that work here has grown steadily to serve and protect the millions of visitors that come to Joshua Tree National Park.
Students from all across the country come to places like Riverside County, California because they want to learn how to become a park ranger in Joshua Tree National Park. The allure of this nationally acclaimed park is easy to understand.
Visitor Safety and Other Park Ranger Responsibilities at Joshua Tree
Park rangers in Joshua Tree National Park recently became news heroes in March 2014 when they responded to three emergency incidents over a single weekend. These park rangers, called the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Protection Rangers, are part of an elite team designed to cope with visitor safety issues by:
- Responding to emergency calls of fallen climbers
- Investigating motor vehicle accidents
- Conducting search and rescue missions
- Transporting injured hikers
- Operating emergency vehicles
Park management is a huge component of a park ranger’s job at Joshua Tree. Although it may seem that park rangers are mainly concerned with a park’s natural features and resources, they are also responsible for the upkeep and operation of designated visitor areas, including:
- Information centers
- Wayside exhibits
- The park’s nine campgrounds
- Backcountry camping areas
- Dirt trails for mountain biking
- Rock climbing areas
- Horseback riding trails
- Non-motorized bike trails
With the Colorado Desert to the east and the Mojave Desert to the west, Joshua Tree National Park features an exciting blend of breathtaking features, including:
- Alluvial fans
- Desert varnish
Like most ecosystems, Joshua Tree is a fragile environment that requires constant attention. Therefore, park ranger jobs involve working diligently to address issues that affect the park’s homeostasis. These issues include:
- Air pollution
- Natural and cultural landscape restoration
- Cultural resource identification
- Recreational impacts on natural resources
- Invasive exotic plant species
- Rare species conservation
- Deficient baseline information on resources
- Habitat disintegration
Lassen Volcanic National Park
A report published by the National Park Service revealed that the park rangers of Lassen Volcanic National Park welcomed 407,653 visiting guests in 2013. In turn, these visitors collectively spent more than $22 million in nearby towns and cities. This monetary contribution bolstered the local economy by supporting 297 jobs.
Situated among the Cascades Mountain Range, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Great Desert Basin, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers views of volcanic geology at their most sublime. The park is also home to:
- 779 plant species
- 215 bird species
- 147 moth species
- 83 butterfly species
- 57 mammal species
- 14 amphibian and bird species
Outdoor enthusiasts searching for park ranger jobs at Lassen Volcanic National Park may be in luck. According to the National Park Service, Lassen Volcanic National Park’s budget will increase to provide funding for additional staff members, including park rangers. This larger team of park rangers will help improve the park’s future by:
- Managing exotic plants and animals
- Monitoring natural resources
- Preserving archeological sites
- Maintaining trails and service roads
- Improving interpretive programs
- Winterizing park facilities
Safety Considerations and Other Park Ranger Duties at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Park rangers and visitors cannot escape the irresistible pull of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s most extraordinary asset: its geothermal features. The park’s rich volcanic history gives way to a hydrothermal system that emits rumbling fumaroles, bubbling mud pots and simmering pools.
However, without the proper safety precautions admirers that venture too close to them could suffer serious injury. Therefore, park ranger jobs involve restricting visitor proximity and being prepared for emergency responses in the following geothermal areas of Lassen Volcanic National Park:
- Bumpass Hell
- Little Hot Springs Valley
- Pilot Pinnacle
- Sulphur Works
- Devils Kitchen
- Boiling Springs Lake
- Terminal Geyser
- Cold Boiling Lake
A huge part of a park ranger’s job in Lassen Volcanic National Park is to patrol and maintain the safe operation of the park’s 450 campsites and 150 miles of trails. Yet another part of their job is to help entertain visitors by creating events, leading tours and offering outdoor activities, such as:
- Snowshoe Walks
- Bird Banding Demonstrations
- Day Hiking
- Field Seminars
- Bird Watching
- Wildlife Viewing
Point Reyes National Seashore
Park rangers in Marin County are often drawn to the dynamic biodiversity of Point Reyes National Seashore. This national park is home to sandy beaches, untamed hillsides, vast grasslands and wooded ridges that stretch across 71,070 acres.
With 33,373 acres of designated wilderness terrain and approximately 150 miles of hiking trails, it is no wonder that 2,641,808 guests recently visited the park in 2013.
Park rangers that work in a national park like Point Reyes National Seashore serve under the authority of the National Park Service (NPS).
Functioning Roles of Park Rangers in Point Reyes National Seashore
The United States Office of Personnel Management divides the functional roles of park rangers into three categories:
- Interpretation: Interpretative park rangers in Point Reyes National Seashore help to enrich the visitors’ experience through interactive communication. These rangers often identify natural features, explain historical sites, direct guided tours and perform educational demonstrations.
- Visitor Protection and Services: Protective park rangers in Point Reyes National Seashore help to keep the park grounds safe and operational. These rangers often maintain recreational facilities, conduct emergency services, provide law enforcement, control visitor and vehicle traffic, and collect fees.
- Resource Management: Resource management park rangers in Point Reyes National Seashore help to protect, manage and conserve the park’s natural and historic integrity. These rangers often help to manage structural fire prevention, supervise land-use activities, and preserve natural, cultural and historical structures.
Volunteer Experience and Internships at Point Reyes National Seashore
Volunteering – Ambitious individuals interested in pursuing park ranger jobs in Point Reyes National Seashore can enhance their resume by gaining volunteer experience at the park. In order to accommodate availability, the park provides short-term, intermediate-term and long-term volunteer options. Some examples of typical duties assigned to volunteers include:
- Restoring natural habitats
- Monitoring wildlife
- Repairing park trails
- Maintaining cultural exhibits
- Cataloguing artifacts
- Aiding park administration
- Patrolling the park
- Assisting in beach cleanups
- Educating park visitors
Interning – Another way to facilitate employment at Point Reyes National Seaside is by completing an internship at the park. Internships offer youths, college students and adults the chance to receive on-the-job training while providing an inside look into the daily routines of a park ranger. Examples of past internship opportunities include:
- Dunes and Wetlands Monitoring and Restoration Internship
- Vegetation and Rangeland Management Youth Internship
- Habitat Restoration Volunteer Coordinator
- Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program Internship
- Marine Science Internship
Redwood National and State Parks
Redwood National and State Parks are composed of three state parks and one national park:
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park
- Redwood National Park
The three state parks were established in the 1920s while the national park became recognized in the late 1960s. However, by the 1990s, the California Department of Parks and Recreation along with the National Park Service decided to manage all four parks as a joint cooperative.
Today, the all three state parks are located within Redwood National Park territory. These four parks are collectively referred to as the Redwood National and State Parks.
Park Rangers as Activities Directors at Redwood National and State Parks
Park ranger jobs in Redwood National and State Parks involve protecting and maintaining the health of natural resources, as well as how visitors interact with those natural resources. Park rangers often plan, organize, execute and supervise outdoor activities that help to attract visitors, including:
- Backcountry Exploration
- Wildlife Viewing
- Dance Demonstrations
- Horseback Riding
- Ranger-led Programs
Redwood National and State Parks by the Numbers
Stretching from Oregon’s southern border to the Redwood Creek watershed in Orick, California, the Redwood National and State parks encompass 131,983 acres along California’s northernmost coast. 49,935 of these acres are located in Del Norte County while the remaining 80,843 acres are in Humboldt County.
To service such a large area, the parks require a sizable staff that includes a team of qualified park rangers. During the peak season of 2013, the parks employed 88 permanent and 45 temporary federal workers.
Reports by the National Park Service indicate that the 330,158 visitors to Redwood National Park in 2012 generated over $20 million in spending. This spending trickled down to local economies, which helped to sustain 294 jobs in the area.
However, this report did not factor in how the other three Redwood state parks—Del Norte Coast Redwoods, Prairie Creek Redwoods and Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Parks—also stabilize local economies. In actuality, approximately 900,000 guests visit the four Redwood National and State Parks collectively each year. These visitors help rake in an estimated $55 million in spending, a portion of which goes to supporting about 500 jobs in adjacent communities.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Notorious for its towering sequoia trees, Sequoia National Park is the second oldest park in the United States and spans some 404,063 acres. In 1943, Sequoia National Park teamed up with neighboring Kings Canyon National Park and grew to a commanding 865,964 acres.
Today, these parks are maintained and operated by the National Park Service (NPS) and its appointed staff of dedicated park rangers. According to the NPS, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks attracted 1,595,214 visitors in 2011. To accommodate such a large numbers of guests, the NPS employed:
- 250 Permanent Workers
- 300 Seasonal Workers
- 1,276 Volunteers
Park Ranger Job Responsibilities at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Park rangers employed at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are often split into two categories: interpretive and protective. Interpretive park rangers are responsible for explaining the natural and historical features of the field to visiting guests. Protective park rangers are responsible for the general patrolling and emergency response operations that ensure visitor safety. According to the NPS, some examples of job duties include:
- Providing customer services
- Interpreting park features during guided talks, walks and demonstrations
- Utilizing resource management programs
- Carrying out search and rescue missions
- Collecting fees
- Managing firefighting operations
- Controlling visitor traffic
Yosemite National Park
The vast majesty of Yosemite National Park attracts millions of visitors each year to California’s Yosemite Valley. In fact, the National Park Service (NPS) reported 3,996,017 park visitors in 2012 alone.
Nature enthusiasts and tourists alike have plenty of space to explore, as Yosemite National Parks spans an incredible 747,956 acres of protected land. This acreage includes 704,624 acres of designated wilderness, which accounts for approximately 94% of the total allotment.
Due to the Yosemite’s size and reputation, the NPS must fill several park ranger jobs to accommodate the various needs of National Park. In 2010, there were 1,123 NPS workers employed during the park’s winter season. By the summer season of that year this figure grew by 743 additional workers.
Working and Volunteering at Yosemite National Park
First and foremost, park rangers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of the natural environment and visitors of Yosemite National Park. As a result, in 2010, park rangers helped to sustain park functionality by:
- Participating in 245 search and rescue operations
- Handling 670 motor vehicle accidents
- Issuing 2,469 citations regarding wilderness preservation
- Distributing 11,223 warnings
To shield the park’s flora and fauna from human traffic, park rangers penalize visitors that disturb the wilderness or bring household pets into the wilderness by dispensing written warnings and citations.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous parks in the United States, if not the world. As such, park ranger jobs here are highly competitive and candidates are encouraged to gain work experience that will set them apart from fellow applicants.
Luckily, Yosemite National Park hosts a range of volunteer and internship programs that may increase the marketability of prospective employees. For example, some recently advertised positions include:
- Legal intern
- Camp host
- Preventive search and rescue volunteer
- Conservancy visitor assistant
- Wilderness patrol volunteer
- Information assistant