Vermont Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

Vermont’s park rangers have made a commitment to making the state’s 52 state parks some of the best in the country. Park rangers ensure visitors have a safe and pleasant experience in Vermont’s natural areas by providing informative lectures or demonstrations and also pointing out state park rules and laws. Each year the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation employs 36 full-time and 250 seasonal employees to manage this task, many of whom are park rangers.

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Park rangers have positive attitudes and are good with people. Applicants for these positions must also meet a few minimum requirements to be eligible for employment.

The top-five busiest state parks for family camping in the state are:

  • Half Moon Pond State Park
  • Elmore State Park
  • Jamaica State Park
  • Grand Isle State Park
  • Stillwater State Park

Becoming a Park Ranger with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation

Education – Park ranger applicants that have a college education in Park Management are given preference. Having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is also a means of qualifying for federal park ranger positions, which are detailed below. A college education can also demonstrate other desirable skills such as:

  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to rank problems according to their importance and deal with them in a logical order
  • Good work ethic

A relevant park ranger degree for federal positions can include:

  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Anthropology
  • Business Administration

Application – Applications can be made online or by mail. Candidates will need to fill out a four-page application and follow the simple submission instructions on the Vermont State Parks application webpage. To know which parks are looking for ranger applicants, candidates can check the current job postings.

All applications will be screened to ensure that candidates meet certain minimum requirements:

  • First Aid and CPR Certification
  • At least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent

In addition to a college degree in Park Management, applicants are also preferred to have:

  • Previous park maintenance and operation experience
  • Technical maintenance skills

Hiring usually begins around the start of the new year in January. Before acceptance, candidates will be subject to a background check.

Training – Vermont’s park ranger training is mostly specific to the particular state park. Every season new and returning rangers can expect to spend a few days going over rules and procedures. Safety is also strongly emphasized and each year park rangers should expect to add a few more skills to their repertoire with training classes offered through agencies such as the Red Cross or through the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. These can include:

  • Wilderness first aid
  • Survival
  • Ice rescue
  • Lifeguard training
  • Emergency medical technician certification

Park Rangers with the National Parks Service in Vermont

The National Parks Service employs park rangers at the federal level across the United States, including in Vermont. These federal employees assist their local counterparts as needed and help to manage federally-controlled territory such as:

  • Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail
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Becoming a federal park ranger involves filling out an application through the USA Jobs website and making it through a selective hiring process that includes an in-depth background investigation. Applicants must:

  • Be US citizens
  • Have the ability to obtain a driver’s license
  • Pass a drug test
  • Make it through a medical and psychological evaluation

There are several types of federal park rangers, each with tailored requirements for hire and training. All rangers must at minimum have either one, or a combination of the following:

  • Bachelor degree in a field-specific major
  • One year of specialized work experience in a field-specific area

Completing a Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP) may be required for federal park rangers who serve a law enforcement role.

Working as a Park Ranger in Vermont

Several park rangers with the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation were recently interviewed about what advice they would give to people who wanted to become a park ranger in Vermont. Here is what some of them had to say:

  • Park rangers need to have good management and people skills. They should always be prepared for something unexpected and try and stay one step ahead with contingency plans.
  • Prospective park rangers should be even tempered and be good at reading people, including their staff.
  • Good communication with other park staff that work under the supervision of park rangers is essential.
  • Attitude is more important than experience or prior knowledge in something.

Park ranger requirements in Vermont usually consist of dealing with a wide assortment of issues that come up during the course of a work day, while still getting essential tasks completed. This usually includes doing rounds of campsites, managing the cleanliness of park facilities, and checking in new campers.

Park ranger jobs in Vermont are organized into four different zones:

  • Region 1 – Southeast Parks, including:
    • Camp Plymouth State Park
    • Fort Dummer State Park
    • Silver Lake State Park
  • Region 2 – Southwest Parks, including:
    • Button Bay State Park
    • D.A.R. State Park
    • Half Moon Pond State Park
  • Region 3 – Northwest Parks, including:
    • Alburg Dunes State Park
    • Grand Isle State Park
    • Sand Bar State Park
  • Region 4 – Northeast Parks, including:
    • Burton Island State Park
    • Green River Reservoir State Park
    • Smugglers’ Notch State Park

Vermont Park Ranger Salaries

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation is responsible for the management and operation of 52 states parks across Vermont. They also employ the state’s park rangers. Some of the park ranger jobs in Vermont are seasonal whereas others are permanent, full-time positions.

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Below are the seasonal Vermont park ranger salaries/jobs:

Park Ranger or Assistant Ranger I-IV

  • Rate of Pay: $499 to $690 per week depending on experience.

Park Interpreter I or II

  • Rate of Pay: $10.41 to $10.84 per hour.

The full-time park ranger jobs in Vermont include:

Burton Island Park Ranger (Hourly)

  • Step 1: $16.05
  • Step 2: $16.75
  • Step 3: $17.34
  • Step 4: $17.91
  • Step 5: $18.50
  • Step 6: $19.11
  • Step 7: $19.74
  • Step 8: $20.33
  • Step 9: $21.01
  • Step 10: $21.63
  • Step 15: $24.81

Parks Regional Ranger Supervisor (Hourly)

  • Step 1: $18.80
  • Step 2: $19.69
  • Step 3: $20.38
  • Step 4: $21.03
  • Step 5: $21.74
  • Step 6: $22.45
  • Step 7: $23.17
  • Step 8: $23.95
  • Step 9: $24.72
  • Step 10: $25.43
  • Step 15: $29.27

Additionally, because park rangers are often recognized by a variety of titles, the following tables have been provided for additional salary reference:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Vermont

Area name
Annual mean wage
Burlington-South Burlington VT
Southern Vermont nonmetropolitan area
Northern Vermont nonmetropolitan area

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Vermont

Area name
Annual mean wage
Burlington-South Burlington VT
Southern Vermont nonmetropolitan area
Northern Vermont nonmetropolitan area

Elmore State Park

Located in the town of Elmore on the northern edge of the CC Putnam State Forest, Elmore State Park is one of Vermont’s most popular places for people looking to escape into nature. Park rangers manage the facilities at this 700-plus-acre park, which boasts several attractive amenities:

  • 15 lean-tos
  • 45 camp sites
  • Historic Elmore Beach House
  • Boat rentals for the 219-acre Lake Elmore
  • Miles of hiking trails through the forest and on Elmore Mountain

Park rangers keep the park operating in an orderly fashion while also implementing adequate safety measures. The excellence they demonstrated recently was an important factor in helping Elmore earn the Northeast Region’s Park of the Year award in 2012. Candidates who want to learn more about how to become a park ranger in Elmore State Park are encouraged to start by researching the hiring standards as set forth by Vermont State Parks, a division of the state’s Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.

Working as a Park Ranger at Elmore State Park

The demands of a park ranger at Elmore State Park are many, but so are the rewards. Set against the natural backdrop of Lake Elmore, Elmore Mountain, and the EE Putnam State Forest, rangers could not ask for a more idyllic workplace. Here park rangers are involved in a number of important tasks:

  • Campground management, including:
    • Boat rentals
    • Campsite management
    • Historic beach house rental
  • Conducting activities for visitors to the park
  • Acting as first responders in both medical and law enforcement capacities

Park rangers have participated in recent events which have taken place at Elmore, including:

  • Re-opening celebration of the historic Elmore Beach House. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936, the beach house was recently restored to its former glory. Park rangers participated in the events of the day, that included a presentation of the site’s history and other interpretive programs.
  • Periodic music festivals, which serve as fundraisers to support wildlife conservation and other important community activities. Once the organizing is done and the concert begins, park rangers can enjoy the music just like everyone else.
  • Park rangers also participate in night activities for kids and their parents. One of the most popular is Friday Night Game Night, where parents can relax while a ranger or park interpreter leads the kids in educational outside games. Park rangers also stay on hand to ensure everything is conducted safely.

When they are not leading activities or managing park operations, rangers at Elmore may be found performing lifesaving search and rescue operations or assisting local law enforcement. Recently park rangers helped to coordinate a search party for a man who was reported missing. On a recent new year’s day a local resident decided to ski from Elmore State Park to his residence, about five hours away. When he did not return his wife reported him missing, which was when Elmore park rangers became involved.

As is often the case in a search and rescue or law enforcement operation, park rangers at Elmore work as a team with other local authorities. Although they are not certified as law enforcement officers, park rangers can still play a significant role in these operations. The skier was eventually located close to midnight and in relatively good condition. In this instance, Elmore park rangers coordinated search efforts with:

  • Elmore Fire Department
  • Vermont State Police
  • State Game Wardens
  • Stowe Mountain Rescue

Grand Isle State Park

Located on the state’s scenic Lake Champlain, which shares a maritime border with both Canada and New York, Grand Isle State Park is the most popular place of its kind in all of Vermont. Visitors come throughout the year to participate in ranger-led events, camping, hiking, and numerous activities on the lake.

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Park rangers are in charge of maintaining operations at Grand Isle while also ensuring the park’s visitors are safe, whether on land or water. Considering the park has 4,150 feet of shoreline, over 100 campsites and is home to the Ironwood Trail, rangers face a considerable number of tasks related to leading activities and overseeing heavily trafficked recreation areas.

A Day in the Life of a Grand Isle State Park Ranger

Park rangers at Grand Isle play a variety of roles, doing everything from acting as administrators to serving in a rescue or law enforcement capacity. More experienced rangers can do it all, while newer ones may start out in a particular area of specialization based on prior skills and training.

One of the key duties of a park ranger at Grand Isle, which happens to also be particularly enjoyable, is leading events. These are held year round and take advantage of the park’s location on the heart of Lake Champlain. Some of the ranger-led programs include:

  • Great Ice in Grand Isle Celebration – Park rangers begin this event in the ranger’s station where they hold their audience with the allure of warm drinks. After recounting tales about Grand Isle folklore, rangers lead snowshoers, tobogganers, and skiers across the frozen Lake Champlain to explore trails and winter wildlife.
  • First Day Hikes – These ranger-led hikes take place as their name suggests, on the first day of every New Year. At Grand Isle State Park rangers lead groups of visitors through the winter wonder land surrounding the Ironwood Nature Trail, explaining how native animals can be tracked from their snow prints and how they survive during the winter.

Park rangers at Grand Isle also work with community programs that aim to integrate people and nature. One such program is with the women’s Northwest State Correctional Facility. Inmates participating in a flower-growing rehabilitation program periodically bring the fruits of their labor to Grand Isle, filling the park with thousands of yellows, blues, and reds of their wildflower project.

Park rangers at Grand Isle also participate in first-responder events that range from rescue to law enforcement. Although rangers are not certified law enforcement officers, they do act in close concert with local and federal law enforcement as needed. This includes responding to unruly park patrons or maintaining a lookout for wanted suspects.

As medical or rescue first responders, park rangers have responded to incidents of drowning, burns, broken bones, heart attacks, and all other imaginable medical emergencies that have taken place over the course of the Grand Isle State Park’s existence since 1959. Although proactive prevention programs are a large part of ranger initiatives, every year accidents do happen and rangers must be prepared to mount an effective response.

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