New York Forest Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Forest rangers in New York State, work for the Division of Forest Protection to preserve the state’s abundance of wild lands, wilderness, and forests. In 1885, New York created the Forest Preserve of New York State, which went on to establish the beautiful land of the Adirondacks and Catskills as protected areas that are to remain “forever wild.”

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New York’s forest rangers serve as sworn police officers, first responders, and even wild land firefighters, protecting the state’s forests and the people who enjoy them. New York State has a forest ranger force of 134, consisting of forest rangers, lieutenants, captains and directors. They patrol more than 5 million acres of public lands, including 18.6 million acres of forested lands.

New York’s elite forest rangers are responsible for managing:

  • 3.1 million acres of Adirondack and Catskill forest preserve
  • More than 205,000 acres of wildlife management areas
  • Almost 890,000 acres of conservation easements
  • Nearly 800,000 acres of state forests, reforestation and multiple-use areas
  • Almost 52,000 New York City Department of Environmental Protection Access Lands

Forest rangers protect and enhance these lands by:

  • Organizing and conducting search and rescue operations
  • Educating the public in wilderness safety and natural resource care
  • Administering the wildlife fire management program
  • Enforcing the laws that preserve and protect the state’s forest

New York Division of Forest Protection Degree, Employment and Training Requirements

Education/Experience Requirements:

To become a New York forest ranger, candidates must be able to meet one of the following requirements:

  • Possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in environmental/life science (or in another field supplemented with 30 semester credit hours in environmental/life science)


  • Possess an associate’s degree or higher in:
    • Forestry
    • Forest technology
    • Forest management
    • Natural resources management
    • Forest recreation
    • Forest engineering
    • Environmental engineering


  • Possess an associate’s degree or higher in environmental/life science (or in another field supplemented by 18 semester credit hours in environmental/life science; AND
    • Two years of technical/professional work experience in the natural resources management field; OR
    • Two years of active U.S. military service with an honorable discharge

Note: Environmental/life science may include the following areas of study:

  • Forestry
  • Forest management
  • Forest recreation
  • Forest resources technology
  • Forest dire management
  • Forest engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Environmental education
  • Fish or wildlife biology
  • Fish or wildlife management
  • Environmental science

Other Minimum Requirements for Employment:

In addition to holding a formal degree from an accredited college or university, individuals must meet a number of requirements to become a forest ranger in New York. Specifically, these must:

  • Be a resident of New York
  • Be at least 20 years old but no older than 35
  • Possess a New York driver’s license
  • Must physically strong and active and able to pass a medical examination and physical ability test
  • Must be able to pass a character background investigation and psychological evaluation

Application and Training Procedures:

All applicants for forest ranger jobs in New York must first successfully complete a written examination administered by the Department of Civil Service. Forest ranger jobs are filled by selecting candidates from the eligible list based on performance on the written examination.

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All new forest rangers must successfully complete a 26-week basic training school before they are assigned to a geographical area.

New York State Forest Rangers Facts and Figures

As of 2012, the New York Division of Forest Protection had:

  • 106 forest rangers
  • 28 forest ranger lieutenants, captains and directors

In 2012 alone, New York forest rangers:

  • Conducted 162 search missions
  • Conducted 101 rescue missions
  • Conducted 109 search and rescue or first aid training events
  • Completed 65,701 inspections of trailheads/access points
  • Issued 2,030 state land camping permits
  • Issued 1,113 state land use permits
  • Responded to 1,952 calls for service/complaints
  • Assisted other agencies 581 times

The top activities conducted by forest rangers in 2012 included:

  1. State land patrol and enforcement
  2. Administrative responsibilities
  3. Search and rescue missions and training
  4. Fire management activities
  5. Support to other agencies/programs

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