Don’t want to work inside all day? If you’re a park ranger for the National Park Service, you could spend much of your workday outdoors at one of nearly 400 locations around the country – including some of the most beautiful and historic sites on earth.
NPS is one of the most visible and beloved of all Federal agencies. Since its founding in 1916, the National Park Service has been dedicated to the preservation and management of America’s outstanding natural, cultural, and historical resources so that all may experience our cherished heritage. From the Statue of Liberty to the geysers of Yellowstone, to the vistas of the Grand Canyon and the volcanoes of Hawaii, the NPS is part of the fabric of America. And you can be part of this important mission!
NPS offers a broad range of job opportunities in a variety of exciting and rewarding assignments across the nation. The NPS has approximately 16,000 permanent employees and hires up to 10,000 temporary and seasonal employees each year. Additional support is provided by 125,000 volunteers annually.
PERMANENT JOBS WITH NPS
The NPS seeks qualified, highly motivated people with backgrounds in academic disciplines or trades for permanent career opportunities available nationwide. Park rangers work as law enforcement officers, nature experts, or both. They protect national parks and other federally managed areas by investigating complaints, enforcing laws and regulations, performing searches and rescues, and helping to direct forest- and fire-control efforts. These tasks are usually handled by park rangers working full time, year round.
NPS offers employment opportunities in a broad range of career fields:
- Biological Sciences
- Community Planning
- Cultural Resources
- Financial Management
- Fire Management
- Health and Safety
- Human Resources
- Landscape Architecture
- Maintenance and Facility Management
- Natural Resources
- Park Police
- Park Ranger (Interpretation)
- Park Ranger (Protection)
- Park Site Interpretation
- Physical Sciences
Benefits of Working for NPS:
- Work for a leading conservation agency
- Serve America
- Live and work in beautiful, scenic places
- Do interesting and meaningful work
- Comprehensive life and health insurance
- Excellent vacation and sick leave benefits
- Family friendly work policies
- Flexible workplace opportunities
- Leave sharing program
- Flexible work schedules
- Tuition assistance available
- Transit benefits available
- Great retirement benefits
TEMPORARY AND SEASONAL JOBS WITH NPS
Every year, millions of people visit our national parks. To meet the needs of visitors and help manage and protect park resources, the NPS hires approximately 10,000 temporary and seasonal employees annually. Experience gained from seasonal and temporary work often leads to permanent employment. While seasonal and temporary positions are available in a range of career fields, most jobs are in the following categories:
Visitor Use Assistant – As a uniformed employee of the NPS, you serve as a front-line representative of the agency and frequently you are the first and only contact the visiting public has with an NPS employee. You work at an entrance station, visitor center, campground or other visitor contact station, collecting fees and providing answers to visitor questions about recreational opportunities, interpretive services, and concession facilities and services. You distribute maps and brochures, provide directions through the park and inform visitors of potential safety hazards. As you’re responsible for collecting fees and following accountability guidelines for handling government funds, you must pass a required background investigation. You operate an electronic cash register, perform open and closing shift functions to verify money collected and stock sold. Other duties may include a variety of visitor services such as traffic control, radio dispatching or back-country patrols.
Park Guide – Would you like to practice your public speaking skills? As a uniformed employee of the National Park Service, you deliver interpretative programs to educate visitors. You independently present a variety of talks and briefings and respond to visitor questions. Your presentations are generally short and concern park orientation and visitor safety. You explain the area’s natural, cultural and/or historic resources, recreational opportunities, concession facilities and services, availability of campgrounds and hiking trails. You provide information on current park events, projects, and policies, as well as updates on issues affecting the natural, historical and/or cultural preservation of the area. Park guides work in or near the park visitor center or visitor contact station, and at auditoriums, campgrounds, trails, or in the field. Other duties may include visitor services such as fee collection, traffic control, back-country patrols, and administrative tasks.
Park Ranger – Do you like working directly with the public? As a park ranger for the National Park Service, you (1) interpret and explain park resources to visitors; (2) facilitate visitor enjoyment of the park and its resources; (3) help ensure visitor behavior that protects park resources and gain friendly compliance with the laws and rules for safe use of the park; and (4) encourage visitors to develop a sense of stewardship of park resources. You research and present interpretive programs, and present a variety of formal and informal programs including orientation talks, environmental education programs, conducted walks, demonstrations and campfire programs. You tell visitors about park facilities and resources such as visitor centers, campgrounds, historical sites and auditoriums. Other duties may include gathering information for reports, compiling statistical data, assisting with search and rescue efforts or helping to combat wild-land and structural fires.
Biological Science Technician – You have a direct impact on managing the resources of our National Parks by collecting essential field data. You collect samples and record all data collected. You work in the field, laboratory, or typical office setting. You install, operate and maintain tools, traps, and sampling, monitoring, photographic, and laboratory equipment. You use a variety of computer programs to compile, store, and report data and resource management information, including natural science research and long-term monitoring projects. You also maintain and organize computer databases and prepare correspondence, reports and other documents.
Seasonal Maintenance Positions – Maintenance work is vital to the safe and efficient operation of our parks. Throughout the country, park units call on trades and crafts personnel to maintain and construct trails, roads, housing, visitor facilities, utility systems, signs, furniture, and so on. As a maintenance worker, you perform skilled and semi-skilled work in a variety of trades. Trail maintenance work normally requires the ability to lift heavy objects in a variety of terrains.
Volunteers-In-Parks (VIPs) work side-by-side with National Park Service employees and partners in parks from Maine to Hawaii, from Alaska to Florida, in big cities and small towns, even in remote wilderness areas. Anyone can be a VIP. Individuals, couples, families, students, and organized groups can volunteer. Those under 18 years of age may volunteer with the official, signed permission of a parent or guardian.
Volunteers-In-Parks play an ever-increasing role in national parks doing a variety of jobs. Many volunteer opportunities are available that require a wide variety of talents, skills, and abilities. Here is a sampling of volunteer activities that may interest you:
- Working at an information desk answering visitor questions.
- Presenting living history demonstrations in period costume.
- Building fences and boardwalks.
- Giving guided nature walks and evening campfire programs.
- Assisting with preservation of museum artifacts.
- Assisting in routine repairs and upkeep to buildings, utilities, and trails.
- Designing computer programs or park websites.
- Serving on a bike, horseback, or beach patrol.
- Working as campground hosts.
- Staffing visitor center information desks, writing articles, and taking photos for newspapers and brochures.
- Assisting with wildlife camera monitoring projects, spring surveys, cultural resource assessments, exotic weed identification and removal, litter removal, installing wilderness boundary markers, and documenting backcountry campsite locations.
As a VIP you will represent the National Park Service, work in unique settings, preserve our country’s natural and cultural legacy, and help visitors discover the resources, meanings, and values found in our national parks. Based on your job assignment, you may wear an official volunteer uniform which will be provided. Park housing and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses may also be available. You will be covered for worker’s compensation in the event of an injury while on duty and, in the event of property damage or personal injury, you will be covered for tort claim liability. Volunteer time can be counted as work experience for future jobs, but does not count towards Federal Civil Service time if you should later become a Federal employee.
VIP positions can be highly competitive depending on location and type of activity. VIPs should be in good health to successfully carry out their duties and responsibilities. A medical exam may be required for some volunteer positions. Some opportunities may also require a background investigation due to increased security. Contact the park volunteer manager/coordinator if you have questions or see what volunteer opportunities are available by visiting http://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm and selecting the park of your choice.
Internships are rewarding, career-building experiences. Working as an intern is an excellent way to explore a career while gaining valuable experience and new insights. A summer job doing the kind of work you may be considering for a career can open your eyes to the various opportunities that this kind of work holds, help you better gauge your own skills and desires, make valuable contacts, and even consider new options. Internships are administered at the park level or in various NPS centers and offices. Therefore, there is no centralized list of available internships. If you are looking for an internship in a park, we suggest that you select one or more parks that interest you and contact them directly by telephone or mail.
If you are interested in an internship dealing with cultural resources – such as history, archeology, museum curation, or historic architecture – you may want to check out the Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program. Cultural resources and historic preservation work – the job of identifying, documenting, preserving, and interpreting the varied aspects of human culture – involves many skills. The CRDIP is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to explore the field of cultural resource and historic preservation. Each summer and academic year, the CRDIP offers paid internships with National Park Service park units and administrative offices, other federal agencies, state historic preservation offices, local governments, and private organizations. Intern hosts provide work experiences that assist interns with building their resumes in this field. Learn more about the CRDIP at http://www.nps.gov/history/crdi/internships/moreNPSinternships.htm .
Additional internship programs that provide students with ways to explore their career options in the field of cultural resources, historic preservation, public history and heritage preservation are listed here: http://www.nps.gov/history/crdi/internships/internotherprog.htm.
The National Council for Preservation Education features regularly updated internship opportunities for the preservation industry and allied fields: http://www.preservenet.cornell.edu/employ/intern.cfm
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization that operates three volunteer programs: the Resource Assistant Program for young adults, the High School Program, and the Conservation Career Development Program. Resource Assistants serve in areas administered by NPS, BLM, and other federal, state, local and private entities. Resource Assistants serve as volunteer seasonal staff, working side by side with other professional staff. They are not paid, but receive funds to cover travel, a subsistence for food and housing, and a uniform allowance. High School Program crews consist of six to ten volunteers and their leaders performing conservation maintenance tasks. Leaders are experienced in all aspects of outdoor living and conservation work. Most groups are co-educational, and have an equal number of young men and women. Some 2,600 high school students and young adults are placed each year. The Conservation Career Development Program fosters conservation career opportunities for minority youth through service, counseling, and educational grants. For more information about the Student Conservation Association, visit www.thesca.org .
For more information on working as a park ranger, write to the National Park Service, 1849 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20240; call (202) 208-6843; or visit their Web site at www.nps.gov/personnel. NPS job openings – permanent, temporary, and seasonal – are posted at USAJobs, the official employment website for the United States Federal Government. For a listing of current openings, go to www.usajobs.gov, click on Basic Search and type in “NPS” to find a complete listing of our job opportunities and application procedures. Hint: Check back often, as new positions open regularly. You must be a United States citizen to be eligible for employment.
Experience your America and build a fulfilling career by joining the National Park Service! Become part of their mission to unite our past, our cultures, and our special places, to establish important connections to the present, and build a rich and lasting legacy for future generations.