How to Become a Forest Ranger

Two Parts:Meeting the RequirementsGetting the Job

If you love working outdoors and want to help preserve America's wild-lands and national parks, you may be interested in becoming a forest ranger. Forest rangers work with the public, law enforcement, and other conservation groups to help protect and maintain public forests and land. Learn more about the position of forest ranger and how you can work towards becoming one.

Part 1
Meeting the Requirements

  1. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 1
    Discover what a forest ranger does. Learning more about the details of the position can help you to learn if the role of forest ranger is right for you. Understanding as much as you can before you pursue the position will also help you best direct your efforts if you do decide to become a forest ranger.[1]
    • The main role of the forest ranger is to protect and preserve publicly owned lands.
    • Forest rangers will work with and educate the public about conservation of the wilds.
    • Enforcing the law is part of being a forest ranger.
    • Working with and supporting conservation efforts are also part of a forest rangers duties.
    • Some specific tasks a forest ranger may be required to perform include planting trees, applying pesticides, operating machinery, fighting forest fires, and collecting GPS points.[2]
  2. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 2
    Understand where a forest ranger might work. The obvious location for most forest rangers to work in is the forest. However, a forest ranger may not always be out in the wilds. Learn about what environments and conditions you can expect to be working in as a forest ranger.[3]
    • Forest rangers will work in districts and will often be required to live within that district.
    • Most national forests are in the western United States, so you may have to relocate.
    • Often times, a forest ranger will work outdoors, regardless of weather.
    • Occasionally, forest rangers will work alone and in isolation.
    • Forest rangers should also be comfortable with public speaking as they may be required to lead public education programs regarding conservation.
  3. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 3
    Learn what the governmental requirements are. There are three main government levels that you can apply for forest ranger at: local, state and federal. Each will have it's own specific requirements that you will need to learn more about.[4]
    • In general, you will need at least an associates degree in wildlife or environmental sciences.
    • Each level will have its own requirements.
    • State requirements will vary between states. Local governments are similar in this regard, each may have their own specifications.
  4. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 4
    Enroll in the right program. Most all forest ranger positions will require some college level education, with a minimum of an associates degree. Many require these credit hours be directed towards areas of study relevant to the position such as wildlife management or environmental science.[5][6]
    • The major areas of study that you will need are environmental/life sciences.
    • Specific courses may include forestry and forest management, environmental engineering and education, or fish and wildlife biology and management.[7][8]
    • Round out your studies with other useful courses such as natural and earth sciences, law enforcement, and business or public administration.[9]
    • You may also be required to complete a field test or internship during your coursework.
  5. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 5
    Make sure you meet any additional requirements. Some additional requirements may be demanded by your local or state governments. Make sure you are either able to or have completed these additional requirements.[10][11]
    • You must be in good physical health and may be required to pass an examination or test of ability.
    • Most forest ranger positions will require you have a valid drivers license for the state you are applying in.
    • Some positions will require you to be between a certain age range when you apply.
    • You may have to live in the district you are assigned, should you obtain the position.

Part 2
Getting the Job

  1. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 6
    Volunteer. By volunteering you can get first hand experience which can help you obtain a paid position later on. You will also be able to better understand exactly what the job requires and what it might be like to be a forest ranger, before you fully pursue it.[12]
  2. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 7
    Seek out seasonal work. Seasonal work can be a great first step in becoming a forest ranger. It may offer you experience that is applicable to the position of forest ranger and allow you to learn if the role of forest ranger is one for you.[13]
  3. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 8
    Search for open positions. Begin your search for open forest ranger positions that are in an area you would like to work. Forest ranger positions are at the government level, so beginning your search with official local, state or federal offices or websites is a great place to start.
  4. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 9
    Interview for the position. After you have found a position that seems like a good fit and you have applied, you will want make your interview perfect. Interviews can be difficult, so prepare properly to help your interview go smoothly.[14]
    • Prepare for the interview before hand. Plan your route and prepare some questions for your interviewer.
    • Arrive on time. Arriving late can cause you to no longer be considered for the job.
    • Be honest during your interview. Take your time and provide your most accurate and best answers.
    • Dress appropriately for your interview.
    • Don't be afraid to ask questions either during the interview or before it.
  5. Image titled Become a Forest Ranger Step 10
    Review the average salary for a forest ranger. Before you accept the position as a forest ranger, it can be helpful to know the average pay rate. With this information, you can best negotiate your salary and make sure your are earning a fair rate of pay.[15]
    • As of December 2014, the average national income for a forest ranger was between $25,000 and $26,000 a year.
    • Pay will vary between state, what level your position is, and any previous experience you bring to the position.
    • Job growth is slow, with 2,300 new positions likely to be added by 2022.

Article Info

Categories: Animal Care and Wildlife Occupations