Rhode Island Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management is committed to the preservation of Rhode Island’s natural systems, and the health and safety of its residents.

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The Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Division of Parks and Recreation, manages the staff of park rangers that oversee the operation and safety of the state’s nine parks:

  • Snake Den State Park
  • Lincoln Woods State Park
  • Haines Memorial State Park
  • Goddard Memorial State Park
  • Fort Wetherill State Park
  • Fort Adams State Park
  • Colt State Park
  • Brenton Point State Park
  • Beavertail State Park

Rhode Island’s park rangers patrol the state park areas, assist visitors and promote safety within the state’s parks and beaches. Their job duties also include:

Rhode Island Park Ranger Jobs with the National Park Service

In addition to state park ranger jobs in Rhode Island, individuals may also pursue federal park ranger jobs with the National Park Service. Federal park rangers in Rhode Island oversee national parks and other scenic, cultural, and historical sites in the state, which include the following:

  • Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail
  • Touro Synagogue National Historic Site
  • Roger Williams National Memorial
  • Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

Education and Experience Requirements

Although education and experience requirements vary for park ranger jobs with the National Park Service, entry-level requirements mirror those at the federal pay level, which requires candidates to possess either one year of specialized experience at the GS-4 level or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, along with at least 24 semester hours of related coursework in areas such as:

  • Natural resource management
  • Natural sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • History
  • Park and recreation management
  • Law enforcement/police science
  • Social sciences
  • Museum sciences
  • Business administration

Individuals may also qualify if they possess a combination of education and experience.

Park ranger jobs at the federal level are typically focused either on protective services or cultural (interpretive) services; therefore, individuals applying for protective park ranger jobs must meet an additional set of requirements, which include at least three years of experience with the National Park Service or in a law enforcement capacity.

Training Requirements

Training for protective park ranger jobs may take place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia, with additional training for all federal park rangers taking place at one of the National Park Service’s Learning and Development Centers:

  • Stephen Mather Training Center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  • Horace Albright Training Center at the Grand Canyon
  • Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland
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Park Ranger Jobs with the Rhode Island Division of Parks and Recreation

Park rangers in Rhode Island may be hired and employed at a number of levels, all of which require a distinct set of responsibilities:

Park Ranger I

  • Has frequent contact with the public
  • Patrols parks and beach facilities to observe and report infractions of rules and regulations
  • Promotes the safe enjoyment of park facilities
  • Inspects facilities to check for maintenance problems and equipment failures
  • Performs maintenance tasks

Park Ranger II

  • Provides protective, patrol and security functions
  • Interacts with the public
  • Assists park visitors and protects them from hazards
  • Promotes the safe enjoyment of parks and beaches
  • Inspects facilities for maintenance problems and equipment failures
  • Performs light maintenance duties

Park Ranger III

  • Serves as shift supervisor
  • Handles administrative duties
  • Completes reports and documenting procedures
  • Reviews reports regarding activity on assigned shifts

How to Become a Park Ranger with the Rhode Island Division of Parks and Recreation

All applicants for park ranger jobs in with the Rhode Island Division of Parks and Recreation must be at least 18 years old.

Although not a requirement for achieving a job as a Rhode Island park ranger, candidates for these jobs may be best served by completing a formal degree program in a relevant area at the associate or bachelor’s level:

  • Environmental science
  • Police science
  • Natural sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • Public administration
  • Business administration
  • Sociology

Application forms for park ranger jobs are available through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Applicants selected for an interview must complete the Criminal Record Supplemental form for the completion of a comprehensive background investigation.

Initial training for Rhode Island park rangers includes, among other things, training in first aid and CPR certification training.

Rhode Island Park Ranger Salaries

The State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation employs park rangers seasonally. The State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is the oversight entity responsible for overseeing the operations of the Division of Parks & Recreation.

The hierarchy of park rangers in Rhode Island includes three levels and then goes on to management levels. The average beginning park police salary in RI among those three levels is $8.82 per hour. Level I park rangers start out at $8.00, $8.25, or $8.50 per hour depending on their experience and qualifications, level II park rangers at $8.65, $8.85, or $9.05, and level III park rangers at $9.15, $9.40, or $9.55.

Here is a look at some of the managerial park ranger salaries in Rhode Island:

  • Management Area Ranger II: $8.65, $8.85, or $9.05 per hour
  • Management Area Ranger III: $9.15, $9.40, or $9.55 per hour
  • Assistant Park Ranger Coordinator: $9.25, $9.50, or $9.75 per hour

Also, because park rangers work under various different titles, the following tables have been provided for additional salary reference:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Rhode Island

Area name
Annual mean wage
Norwich-New London CT-RI
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Rhode Island

Area name
Annual mean wage
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Rhode Island

Area name
Annual mean wage
Norwich-New London CT-RI
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA

Burlingame State Park

Burlingame State Park is a popular Rhode Island State Park located in Charlestown. It is home to a number of attractive recreational amenities, including a swimming beach, camping sites, recreation areas, a boat launch, and more than 3,100 acres of land, all of which are managed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Division of Parks and Recreation.

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Rhode Island park rangers provide a number of services to Rhode Island’s state parks and the people who visit them. Typical job duties at Burlingame State Park include:

  • Patrolling all park facilities
  • Promoting the safety of park visitors through the enforcement of park rules and regulations
  • Inspecting park facilities for maintenance problems and equipment failures
  • Interacting with visitors, answering questions, and providing interpretive services

In 1991, Burlingame State Park received a number of much-needed upgrades to its camping sites, sanitary infrastructure, and maintenance amenities, many of which dated back to the 1930s. Today, Burlingame State Park features 755 campsites and a wide array of recreational activities, all of which are overseen by the capable park rangers of Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Division of Parks and Recreation

Burlingame State Park serves as a popular campground during the summer months. Visitors here do everything from swim at the beach and canoe on Watchaug Pond, to play at the park’s playground and hike the trails, the most popular of which is Vin Gormley Trail.

The History of Burlingame State Park

Although the state park system for Rhode Island was created in 1904, the focus was placed on bringing recreational amenities to the urban center of Providence and nearby areas. Therefore, it wasn’t until nearly 25 later that the state park system concept was expanded to include the shores and woods of Rhode Island’s South County. As the Audubon Society had already created the Kimball Wildlife Sanctuary in 1927, the Metropolitan Park Commission followed their lead and began to acquire woodland around the picturesque Watchaug Pond. Burlingame State Park and Campground came into existence following the direct purchase of a number of other parcels in subsequent years.

Burlingame State Park began as a wildlife preserve in 1930. By 1934, it officially opened as Burlingame State Reservation, with the land being used primarily to create Rhode Island’s first campground.

During the 1930s, Burlingame became home to the 141st Company of the Civilian Conservation Corps and, by 1933, the men of the Conservation Corps had begun building roads and trails through Burlingame State Park. Their work also included building fireplaces, campsites, and picnic areas and making improvements to the beaches of Watchaug Pond.

Protecting the Wildlife of Burlingame State Park

Burlingame State Park also serves as an active wildlife area, with park rangers here, ensuring the protection and preservation of the Park’s many wildlife habitats which are home to white-tailed deer, mink, raccoons, river otters, and red foxes, among many others.

Further, Burlingame State Park may house as many as 80 species of birds, with a number of species present during migration periods and throughout the winter. Watchaug Pond, in particular, has been a popular site to view wintering bald eagles. Other bird species known to frequent Burlingame State Park include: Canadian geese, broad-winged hawks, great horned owls,  downy woodpeckers, ovenbirds, scarlet tanagers, and great nested flycatchers, just to name a few.

A wildlife sanctuary adjacent to Burlingame State Park, which is run by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, draws many visitors to the Park in hunt of native wildlife.

Colt State Park

Colt State Park is often referred to as the “gem” of the park system in Rhode Island. This pristine park’s 464 acres of picturesque, gently curving drives, its open expanses of green space, and the fact that it has one of the most spectacular shorelines on the eastern seaboard, make Colt State Park one of the most visited parks in the state.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Division of Parks and Recreation and its team of dedicated park rangers manage Colt State Park. These park rangers are responsible for interacting with the public, patrolling park and beach facilities to ensure visitors are abiding by park rules and regulations, inspecting park facilities, and performing maintenance tasks.

Future Plans for Rhode Island’s Colt State Park

In recent years, plans have been made to preserve open space and provide additional recreational amenities to the visitors that love Colt State Park.

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Division of Parks and Recreation now oversee two, significant projects:

  • Construction of a new fishing pier and dock on the northwest shore
  • Connecting the East Bay Bicycle Path at India Point Park in Providence to the existing bicycle path in Colt State Park

Both projects have been important to providing public access to visitors who want to enjoy the recreational activities on Narragansett Bay and along the northeast shore of Narragansett Bay. As Colt State Park recreational facilities expand, the need for well-qualified park rangers, who are called upon to provide enforcement, patrol, and interpretive services for this State park, are also likely to increase.

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Just a few of the popular activities enjoyed at Colt State Park include:

  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Saltwater fishing
  • Boating
  • Bicycling
  • Snowmobiling
  • Naturalist programs

Summer concerts have been one of the most popular activities at Colt State Park, with some concerts drawing more than 10,000 people, who enjoy relaxing on the park’s spacious lawns that overlook Narragansett Bay.

Colt State Park Amenities and Features

Colt State Park is ideally situated in Bristol, which is comprised of a 10-square-mile peninsula that forms Bristol Harbor. It is located just 12 miles from both Newport and Providence, and is home to miles of unspoiled coastline, 12 parks, and the entrance to the popular East Bay Bike Path.

Overlooking the beautiful Narragansett Bay, Colt State Park attracts visitors to its more than four miles bicycle trails, which wind through groomed fruit tree groves and around stunning, flowering bushes and perfectly manicured lawns. Colt State Park is also home to no less than 10 playfields, 6 picnic groves, an historical museum, and its open-air Chapel-By-the-Sea.

Colt State Park is popular among local residents here, who flock to Bristol’s annual Fourth of July national celebration. This celebration culminates with the Parade on Independence Day, which is watched by more than 200,000 people. Bristol, as one of the country’s most charming, historic seaports, is the perfect backdrop to Colt State Park, with its New England-style grid patterned streets and lanes and its Federal and Greek revival architecture.

Samuel P. Colt, the town and park founder, died in 1921, but it wasn’t until 1935 that the Rhode Island Metropolitan Park Commission acquired the land and not until 1965 when the State of Rhode Island purchased the farm for use as a park. Rhode Island Governor John H. Chafee dedicated Colt State park in 1968.

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