A forest ranger is in charge of protecting, preserving or managing a section of a public forest, keeping people safe from dangers within the park and keeping park resources safe from people who may try to destroy and ruin them. In California, salaries (as of 2010) for forest rangers are between $20,000 and $60,000 for federal employees and $35,000 to $50,000 for state and local rangers.
Learn about the profession. Job responsibilities include education and interpretation for park visitors, emergency dispatch, firefighting maintenance, law enforcement, search and rescue, and administration. You should possess a love of nature, ability to work well with other on a team or alone in a remote location, be in excellent physical condition, have strong communication skills and be able to stay calm and composed during an emergency situation.
Complete your educational requirements. A bachelor’s degree is usually required for federal jobs, while some county and state jobs do not require as much formal education. High school graduates may be eligible for a park ranger position after completing three years of progressively responsible work assignments in conservation work or park operations.
Take classes that would be helpful to you in this profession. High school classes would include biology, computer science, algebra I and II, geometry, English, and environmental science. College classes could include botany, zoology, geology, ecology, park management, forestry and social science.
Be willing to work sporadic schedules in varied locations. You may be expected to work in several different parks and work evenings, nights, weekends and holidays in all types of weather conditions and rugged terrain. You may also be required to take vacations during the park’s off-seasons.
Be physically and mentally fit. Physical qualifications include having good physical strength, health and eyesight and being comfortable and at ease with the outdoors. To be successful in this job, you should also enjoy working with people and have a creative, responsible and energetic can-do personality.
Be able to pass the job’s basic requirements. To be a ranger for the state of California, you need to have two years of college (park or related classes preferred), be 18 years of age, have a driver’s license, no felony convictions, be a U.S. citizen and able to pass a background investigation.
Complete and submit the job application (usually online) to the appropriate organization. This may be the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management or the Exams Unit of California State Parks. Include all required supplemental documents and materials with the application.