Ohio State Parks and its team of park rangers—often called park officers—serve about 55 million visitors every year. Park rangers are called upon to provide front-line services to visitors, including protective and assistance services. They also often provide educational programming and special activities for visitors through a number of seasonal naturalist programs and customer service initiatives.
During the peak season, Ohio State Parks employ 393 full-time employees and an additional 949 part-time or seasonal employees.
Park officers in Ohio at the entry-level are responsible for patrolling and enforcing the park and forest rules and criminal code and motor vehicle laws. Park rangers at higher levels are responsible for conducting more complicated investigations and supervising lower-level park officers.
Typical responsibilities include:
- Completing investigations into criminal matters and rules and regulations dealing with parks and recreation, forestry, natural areas, etc.
- Serving warrants and making arrests
- Maintaining records related to law enforcement activities
- Assisting in the suppression of fires and the investigation of fires
- Assisting park visitors with problems and providing information
- Performing routine maintenance of park facilities and grounds
Ohio State Parks Degree, Application, and Training Requirements
Individuals who want to learn how to become park rangers in Ohio and serve as park ranger cadets must have some knowledge of law enforcement and agency rules and regulations.
- 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
Individuals applying for park ranger jobs in Ohio must be at least 21 years old and have completed a formal degree program at the bachelor’s level in a relevant major, such as:
- Wildlife conservation
- Parks and recreation
- Environmental science
Minimum Class Qualifications for Employment:
In addition to the Department’s education requirements, candidates for park ranger jobs in Ohio must complete the Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training Course (The Ohio Attorney General maintains a directory of Ohio Peace Office Basic Training Academies.). They must also successfully pass a background investigation, which includes:
- Polygraph examination
- Psychological examination
- Medical examination
Further, candidates must be able to meet the Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training Program Fitness Testing Entry Standards for New Recruits and submit to a urinalysis to test for illegal drug use.
All new park ranger cadets in Ohio receive training on operations associated with the job, including:
- Use of firearms
- Uniform regulations and care
- Standards of ethics
- Rules of evidnece
- Recreational trails
- Public and human relations
- Patrolling and enforcement techniques
- Natural areas
- Methods of arrest
- Handling of prisoners
- First aid and emergency care
- Criminal and civil law
- Court conduct
All park rangers in Ohio must also maintain agency-required physical condition and qualify on a semi-annual basis with firearms and related equipment.
How to Become a Park Ranger with the National Park Service in Ohio
Park rangers in Ohio who work for the National Park Service are responsible for the national parks and resources in Ohio, such as:
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- First Ladies National Historic Site
- North Country National Scenic Trail
- William Howard Taft National Historic Site
- National Aviation Heritage Area
Park rangers working for the National Park Service may serve in either a protective/security or cultural/interpretive capacity.
All candidates must be at least 21 years old and meet the requirements of the federal pay level, which includes either possessing at least one year of specialized experience at the GS-4 level or possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a related field, such as:
- Natural resource management
- Criminal justice/police science
- Natural sciences
- Park and recreation management
Individuals serving as protective park rangers must also have at least 3 years of National Park Service or law enforcement experience.
Pre-employment requirements for park ranger jobs with the National Park Service include the successful completion of a medical examination, psychological evaluation, polygraph examination, and background investigation.
Basic training may be conducted at one or more of the three National Park Service training facilities:
- Horace Albright Training Center at the Grand Canyon
- Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland
- Stephen Mather Training Center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
About the Ohio Division of Parks
These are among Ohio’s most frequently visited and well-loved state parks:
- Salt Fork State Park
- Alum Creek State Park
- West Branch State Park
- Paint Creek State Park
- Buck Creek State Park
- Mosquito Lake State Park
- Indian Lake State Park
- East Fork State Park
- Grand Lake St. Mary’s State Park
The Ohio Division of Parks, which was established in 1949, oversees the creation, supervision, operation and maintenance of the State’s parks. Ohio’s state park system, which originally had 30 parks, now encompasses 74 state parks throughout 59 counties and more than 174,000 acres of land and water resources and more than 1,100 miles of trails.
State facilities also overseen by the Ohio Division of Parks include:
- 8 resort lodges
- 2 dining lodges
- 6 golf courses
- More than 9,000 campsites
- 56 family campgrounds
- 518 cottages
- 36 visitor/nature centers
- 80 swimming beaches
- 18 swimming pools
- 188 boat ramps
- 7,583 boat ramps
- 463 picnic areas
Ohio Park Ranger Salaries
In Ohio, park rangers hold employment through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Park rangers can also seek employment with Cleveland Metroparks, which has its own individual ranger department, and is managed under the scope of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Ohio park ranger salaries vary depending upon the specific title assigned. Most park rangers work in many capacities, so it’s important to recognize all applicable titles, such as the following:
Park Manager 2
- Minimum: $39,915.20
- Maximum: $49,420.80
Park Manager 3
- Minimum: $43,451.20
- Maximum: $54,308.80
Park Manager 4
- Minimum: $47,923.20
- Maximum: $62,670.40
Park Manager 5
- Minimum: $52,832
- Maximum: $68,972.80
Park Manager 6
- Minimum: $58,094.40
- Maximum: $76,107.20
Keeping in mind that park rangers often serve a variety of functions, the following tables provide additional salary information among the roles of park rangers in Ohio:
Recreation Workers Salaries in Ohio
Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Ohio
Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located in Northeastern Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron, is a massive, 33,000-acre national park that is managed by the National Park Service (NPS).
Nearly 22 miles of the beautiful Cuyahoga River winds throughout the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and is one of the main attractions for visitors to the area. In fact, more than 2.2 million visitors flock to Cuyahoga Valley National Park every year, making it one of the most visited national parks in the United States.
Protecting the Environment of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a stunning example of a mosaic habitat, as its ecosystem is comprised of deciduous forests, wetland habitats, agricultural lands, and a variety of field habitats, all of which provide safe areas in which animals and plants can flourish.
NPS park rangers here, in addition to providing enforcement and patrol, are heavily involved in protecting this national park’s rich environment, which includes no less than 900 plant species, 194 species of birds, 91 aquatic species (macroinvertebrates), 43 fish species, 32 mammal species, 22 amphibian species, and 20 species of reptiles.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a very unique environment, as it is comprised of the geographic regions of the Appalachian Plateau and the Central Lowlands. As such, the landscape consists of everything from rugged valleys and narrow hills to deep ravines and jagged outcrops.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Recreational Sites and Amenities
The diverse and beautiful landscape gives way to a myriad of recreational opportunities here, including:
- Bird watching
- Horseback riding
Hiking – Cuyahoga Valley National Park has more than 125 miles of hiking trails, which accommodate everything from casual day hikes to park ranger-led expeditions and overnight backcountry camping.
Winter Activities – Cuyahoga Valley National Park may be just as busy during the winter months as it is during the summer months, thanks to the abundance of winter activities that take place here. Visitors flock here during the winter for cross-country skiing and winter hikes.
Historic Sites – There is a wide array of historic sites in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, such as the Conrad Botzum Farmstead, a 19th century farm, and the Everett Road Covered Bridge, the only one of its kind in Summit County, Ohio.
Wildlife Viewing – Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to a diverse group of wildlife that includes both state and federally endangered species like the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle. This region is also home to a number of nesting colonies of great blue herons and a robust population of beavers, thanks to the National Park Service’s repopulation efforts.
Unique Places – There are a number of places in Cuyahoga Valley National Park that highlight the cultural and natural history of this region. The Boston Store Visitor Center, for example, which was built around 1836, is a popular stop for visitors, as is the Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot waterfall that remains one of the most popular attractions here. The Canal Exploration Center, which has stood for more than 150 years, is also a unique popular place to stop when visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
Park rangers at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park may perform a wide array of duties, ranging from patrol to law enforcement. However, much of the work of park rangers at this national park is dedicated to interpretation and education. Just a few of the programs and activities led by NPS park rangers at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park include:
- Bike-with-a-ranger tours include visiting the homes of the Wright brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar and learning about the history of Wright Patterson AFB.
- Park ranger talks and walking tours of the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood take place during the summer months.
- Park ranger walking tours of the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and the Wright Memorial are available during the summer months.
- Ranger programs are held during the summer at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center and the Wright-Dunbar Visitor Center; topics covered include Dunbar’s poetry, Huffman prairie, the Wright Bicycle Company, and the Wright Memorial.
- The Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center features an orientation movie and exhibits, as well as ranger-guided tours of the Wright-Patterson AFB and the Huffman Prairie Flying Field.
- The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Museum is home to an orientation movie, NPS exhibits, and ranger-guided tours of the Wright Cycle Company building.
About Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, located in Dayton, Ohio, is a national park that encompasses no less than 5 national historic landmarks and a National Register Historic District. All of these sites have one thing in common: their connection to the colorful lives of Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, and Paul Laurence Dunbar:
Wright Cycle Company Building – The Wright Cycle Company building is the actual building out of which the Wright brothers ran their bicycle business.
Hoover Block – Hoover Block is the building out which the Wright brothers operated their business, Wright & Wright, Job Printers. It now serves as part of the Wright Visitor Center and was added to the National Register in 1998 as part of the West Third Street Historic District.
Huffman Prairie Flying Field – The Huffman Prairie Flying Field is where the Wright brothers practiced their airplane invention. The adjacent visitor center details the Wright brother’s accomplishments at the flying field, and also provides visitors with a history of Wright-Patterson AFB.
1905 Wright Flyer III – The 1905 Wright Flyer III, which is now recognized as the first practical airplane in the world, was built by the Wright brothers. It now serves as the crowning jewel of the Wright Brothers Aviation Center at Dayton History’s Carillon Historical Park.
Hawthorn Hill – Hawthorn Hill is the Georgian revival mansion in Oakwood where the Wright brothers and their wives resided in 1914.
Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial – The Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial is the house where Paul Laurence Dunbar resided until his death in 1906. After the death of his mother, Matilda, in 1936, the state of Ohio acquired the property and turned it into a museum commemorating an African American.
Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park is a 2,356-acre state park in the heart of Ohio’s Southeastern region. The stunning natural landscape, which includes rushing waterfalls, towering cliffs, and forest-rich gorges, has made Hocking Hills State Park a popular getaway for visitors seeking recreational activities in a beautiful natural environment.
Those interested in working among the natural beauty of Hocking Hills State Park may have their sights set on a career as a park ranger. Ohio park rangers, who work for the Ohio Division of Parks, serve as fully commissioned peace officers. Park rangers are qualified to complete investigations, serve warrants, make arrests, assist park visitors, and provide information.
Serving as a Park Ranger at Hocking Hills State Park
The park rangers of Hocking Hills State Park are typically found patrolling the land of this expansive state park and providing assistance and information to the many people who visit here. Because many of the areas of Hocking Hills State Park may be challenging to visitors, park rangers are called upon to provide emergency assistance to visitors who may have injured themselves or become lost. Park rangers here also serve visitors by providing interpretive programs and guided tours.
Hocking Hills State Park is part of Ohio’s sandstone region, which provides some of the most scenic expanses in the state. This State park, which is overseen by Ohio State Parks and its force of park rangers, features six park areas, all of which are known for their excellent hiking opportunities:
Old Man’s Cave: As one of the most popular of all Hocking Hills State Park regional parks, Old Man’s Cave consists of a 6-mile trail that connects to other areas of the park, including Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. This same trail is part of two national systems: the North Country Scenic Trail and America’s Discovery Trail.
Ash Cave: Ash Cave is a natural beauty and likely one of the most amazing areas of the park, as it features one of the largest recess caves in the state.
Cedar Falls: Cedar Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the Hocking Hills region. Visitors can get a close view of the falls by descending down Democracy Steps, which lead from the parking lot and down the hillside beside the falls.
Conkles Hollow: Conkles Hollow is considered to be one of the deepest gorges in Ohio. Visitors head to the floor of Conkles Hollow to view the abundance of wildflowers, ferns, and wildlife.
Cantwell Cliffs: Located along the northern edge of Hocking Hills State Park, Cantwell Cliffs provides a challenge for those who choose to visit it. Steep cliffs, natural trails, and colorful limestone rock faces are just a few of the features of this stunning area.
Rock House: Rock House serves as the only true cave in Hocking Hills State Park. Consisting of a corridor that leads to a 150-foor sandstone cliff, Rock House has become a popular destination for both sightseers and hikers.
The Amenities and Features of Hocking Hills State Park
Evidence shows that the area now known as Hocking Hills State Park was inhabited by the Adena peoples more than 7,000 years ago. By the mid-1700s, a number of Indian tribes, including the Delaware, Shawnee, and Wyandot, traveled through this area. After the organization of Hocking County in 1818, a number of parks began to take shape. By 1870, the cavernous areas had become popular sites for visitors.
Hocking Hills State Park is now home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails and sites in the state. It features everything from easy, relaxing trails to more challenging trails that take the better part of the day to complete. It is common to see park rangers patrolling these areas and providing assistance to hikers in need.
Hocking Hills State Park also offers 156 electric sites and a large number of non-electric sites. The large camping grounds throughout the park feature a swimming pool, playgrounds, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a number of walk-in family sites.
Hueston Woods State Park
Hueston Woods State Park, which extends through both Butler and Preble Counties in Ohio, encompasses more than 3,000 acres and features an abundance of recreational resources. The heart of Hueston Woods State Park is undoubtedly Acton Lake, a 625-acre lake that is surrounded by campsites, cabins, and even a resort lodge.
The History and Nature of Hueston Woods State Park
Because of its rich history and environmental significance, the park rangers of Hueston Woods State Park are not only called upon to provide patrol and enforcement, but to also ensure the preservation of the land for generations to come.
The land that is now known at Hueston Woods State Park was purchased from the Hueston family in the 1930s and held in trust. A Preble County legislator encouraged the state legislature to purchase the land in 1941, and it was designated as a state forest in 1945. In the summer of 1956, a dam was completed across Four Mile Creek, which created Acton Lake. In 1957, Hueston Woods became a state park.
Hueston Woods State Park is home to not only recreational activities, such as golf and fishing, but also a plethora of natural resources that present endless opportunities for naturalists. For example, this state park features a 200-acre, old-growth forest and limestone bedrock, both of which provide visitors with a glimpse into the area’s past.
Much of the limestone, for example, is rich in fossils, thereby providing visitors with the opportunity to explore and find remains of ancient marine animals. This area is so abundant in fossils, in fact, that people travel from all over the world to engage in fossil hunts.
The old-growth timber of Hueston Woods State Park features everything from towering sugar maples and beautiful beech trees to ferns, wildflowers, and an abundance of wildlife. It was designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1967.
The Scope of Park Ranger Job Duties at Hueston Woods State Park
The park rangers of Hueston Woods State Park, who work for the Ohio State Parks system, Division of Parks, are responsible for ensuring that all activities enjoyed throughout the park are done according to park rules and regulations.
Just a few of the recreational activities of Hueston Woods State park include:
- Archery range
- Fossil hunting
- Boating (one launch ramp and 132 docks)
- Disc golf (36-hole disc golf course)
- Golf course (18-hole, 7,005-yard golf course) and driving ranges
- Hunting (deer hunting, waterfowl and raccoon hunting in season)
- Picnicking (10 picnic sites with tables and grills)
- Swimming (1,500-foot swimming beach with a concession stand and bath house)
Hiking along the trails of Hueston Woods State Park is a popular activity among visitors, with this park featuring a number of hiking trails, ranging from easy and leisurely to quite challenging:
- Sycamore Trail
- Cedar Falls Trail
- Mud Lick Trail
- West Shore Trail
- Sugar Bush Trail
- Blue Heron Trail
- Big Woods Trail
- Hedge Apple Trail
- Indian Mound Trail
- Galion Run Trail
- Equisetum Loop
- Bridal Trail
- Mountain Loop Trail
- American Discovery Trail
Park rangers are on hand to assist visitors and provide information regarding these trails, and they can often be seen patrolling the trails to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors.
Park rangers in Hueston Woods State Park are busy throughout the winter months, as well, as visitors often flock to this state park to enjoy sledding, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, ice boating, and ice skating.
Further, the park rangers of Hueston Woods State Park can be found at the park’s Nature Center, where they provide visitors with information on the park’s wildlife and landscape. Just a few of the interpretive events offered by State park rangers include bird and flower walks, slide talks, and fossil hunts.