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Park Ranger

Significant Points

The work of Park Rangers varies considerably from park to park depending on factors such as the functions performed, the subject matter knowledge required by the work, and the nature of the park or resource(s) involved.

The term park is used in this standard to include national monuments; seashores; parkways; historical, military, natural, and urban parks; lakes; and other related areas administered by the Departments of the Army and the Interior.

The term resource as used in the standard includes natural, historical, cultural, archeological, or other similar types of resources. Park programs or functions range from preserving wilderness to operating urban parks; from protecting natural forests and historical buildings to safeguarding people on crowded recreational beaches or lakes; from patrolling back country areas to delivering interpretive talks in parks, community centers, schools, and similar establishments; from fighting forest fires to controlling large crowds; from overcoming encroachments on public lands to encouraging people to use properly and enjoy park facilities.

Nature of the Work

Park Rangers perform duties that vary from one park or resource to another because of operating requirements, differing types of parks or resources, the seasonality of operations (e.g., during the "slow" season higher grade level rangers may, of necessity, perform some tasks usually associated with lower grade-level ranger work), the availability of staff with specialized knowledge, and other related or similar considerations. Generally, the work falls into three broad functional areas:

  • Interpretation – this involves interpretation of the natural, historical, archeological, or other features of the particular resource and area to enrich the visitors' experience through activities such as talks, guided or self-guided walks, campfire presentations, demonstrations, and environmental education programs both in the park and in community centers, schools, or other related "nonpark" locations.
  • Visitor Protection and Services – this involves activities such as operation of campgrounds, marinas, picnic areas, and other recreation facilities; search and rescue or other emergency services; boat, road, or other patrol activities for enforcement and inspection purposes; traffic control; and fee collection.
  • Resource Management – this involves the protection, management, and conservation of the natural, historical, and other characteristics of the area through activities such as forest, wild land, and structural fire prevention and suppression; boundary encroachment and land-use activities; fish and wildlife management; preservation of natural, cultural, and/or historical structures and objects; and flood control activities.

Park Ranger duties typically involve a wide range and variety of personal contacts and require specific subject matter knowledge that may differ from position to position. Park Rangers at the GS-2 or GS-3 level typically acquire the necessary basic knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out the duties of their positions through on-the-job training and experience. (They often perform work in temporary/seasonal positions.) Entry at higher grade levels may be gained through specifically related education, specialized experience (that may include an intensive training/rotational program), or a combination of both approaches.

Park Ranger, GS-0025-03

Park Rangers, GS-3, are assigned varied, frequently recurring tasks to perform in well defined situations. The assigned tasks usually require: (a) a working knowledge of detailed procedures that are either established and repetitive or specified by the supervisor when the tasks are originally assigned (the ranger generally is provided classroom or on-the-job training when initially employed); (b) readily acquired skill or subject matter knowledge based on experience, education, or training; and (c) communication skills that enable the ranger to meet and deal effectively with persons of different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds in varied work situations.

Park Rangers at this level may be in seasonal positions. Work may include assignments that are designed to develop knowledge of an organization's functions and operating policies/procedures, skill in the effective use and protection of resources, and knowledge of specific programs and operations.

Examples of assignments at this level are:

  • At a visitor center information desk, answers visitors' questions that are usually routine and repetitive and relate largely to factual situations, e.g., geographical location of campgrounds, picnic areas, boating areas, and other recreational areas. Obtains from and posts various information to records, such as number of visitors, survey information on length of visitor stay, size of visiting parties, and patterns of visitor use. Maintains supply of information materials and other stock items; sells books and other items.
  • Serves as a lookout to detect and report fires, status of fires, and suspicious smoke. Receives and relays messages by telephone, radio, computer, etc., on weather forecasts and fire hazard conditions. Maintains records of fire weather and firefighting equipment. Under close supervision, participates as a member of a fire crew in the suppression of fires.
  • At an entrance station, answers visitors' questions and explains regulations covering common park use situations, such as campground reservations and rules; collects fees, sells permits, and safeguards and balances collected funds; maintains records on accountable permits and stock items; and controls vehicular traffic.
  • Presents limited interpretive talks and conducts tours of limited complexity that do not require extensive background knowledge.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-04

Park Rangers, GS-4, are required to use some specialized skill and judgment in applying knowledge, gained through training or experience, of the methods and techniques used in functional areas such as interpretation. GS-4 rangers must also have some subject matter knowledge such as natural or cultural history, fish or wildlife habitat characteristics, techniques of resource protection and use, recreational use of Federal lands, enforcement of Federal regulations, or fire prevention techniques and fire suppression methods. They apply some or all of these knowledge in well defined work situations; in addition, they communicate effectively with visitors and obtain their cooperation, identify and report problems or apparent violations of regulations concerning the use of protected or public land areas, and carry out overall agency policies and procedures within the park.

Typically, Park Rangers at this level perform a variety of assignments such as the following:

  • Confirms or assists in establishing Government property lines through the use of various instruments and records including transit and level, real estate maps, aerial photographs, and deeds. Computes and records data for use of higher graded rangers.
  • Collects and records information on items such as water quality and sediment samples, vegetation, exotic plant infestation, wildlife and fish populations, and erosion control and site rehabilitation problems. Drafts reports, documents, maps, and overlays for higher level review. Reads weather instruments and records data.
  • Conducts a radio dispatch operation; provides communications service for operational activities in areas such as emergency assistance, law enforcement, and firefighting support. Receives all routine and emergency telephone and radio calls placed to park headquarters; maintains communications records including radio logs. Codes, logs, files, and routes all violation notices, courtesy tags, and traffic and boating accident reports.
  • Enforces laws and regulations regarding park use, patrols campgrounds, directs vehicular and pedestrian traffic, maintains crowd control, and issues warnings and traffic and parking tickets. Responds to emergency calls and investigates accidents, complaints, disturbances, and other problems. Administers first aid, summons assistance, takes photographs, makes diagrams, and interviews interested persons. During patrols, explains regulations to park visitors and provides information and advice on park activities and cultural, historical, and/or natural resources history and location.
  • Operates a "back country" office (an office in an area generally removed from paved roads and populous areas), answers visitors' questions, explains regulations, collects site reservation fees, issues back country reservations and permits, and maintains appropriate records. Resolves visitor problems such as those that occur when sites are denied or when the visitor is unhappy with the permit system or with the environmental characteristics of the site.
  • Conducts scheduled and special patrols of land and water areas. Checks usage and condition of public use areas, commercial docks, group camps, and other recreation areas, including safety, fire, sanitation, and maintenance. Investigates and reports to supervisor any trespasses or other violations; describes extent of problem and reports names of witnesses and/or trespassers when possible.
  • Develops and conducts interpretive talks and guided tour programs. The facts presented are usually limited in variety, or subject to little change from time to time. At an historical site, for example, defines the national significance of the site and its historical background. Answers questions about the site that usually recur repeatedly and require knowledge of a limited variety of facts, events, circumstances, personalities, and natural characteristics identified with the site. Operates and performs minor maintenance on audiovisual equipment.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-05

Park Rangers, GS-5, receive assignments that require a general knowledge of program areas such as enforcement or natural and historical information interpretation and development. Rangers at this grade level work within well established programs but have some responsibility for initiating, developing, or modifying work methods. GS-5 rangers follow established procedures and precedents, and they select or adapt procedures to meet different conditions. Work at this level may include basic developmental assignments. GS-5 rangers: (a) administer operations, such as day-to-day operation of a recreation site, that involve onsite decisions and judgments; (b) make surveys to locate or collect various types of information, such as soil erosion, deer transects, and water or air quality, that require the application of judgment and knowledge of particular program areas; (c) carry out resource management or protection work, such as suppression of fires, evaluation of resource conditions, or enforcement of use requirements, that requires skills and judgment to obtain desired results; and (d) make group and individual contacts to provide information or answer questions about their assigned area of work such as recreational activities or historical, cultural, or natural site information.

The following examples are illustrative:

  • Develops interpretive programs; conducts independent research of topics using sources such as records, books, files, and, where appropriate, interviews with people who have personal knowledge of a particular site or event; selects and organizes material to fit the purposes of a program and the type of group for which it is intended such as preschoolers, special senior citizens groups, and U.S. or foreign dignitaries. Presents a variety of formal and interpretive programs including orientation talks, environmental education programs, conducted walks, demonstrations, and campfire programs. Initiates or assists with creation or revision of interpretive materials, such as guidebooks, handouts, and exhibits. Operates a variety of audiovisual and other equipment used in connection with interpretive material including movie and slide projectors, cassette and reel-to-reel recorders, and video equipment.
  • Plans day to day operation of a recreation area providing such facilities as camping, water sports, or picnic areas; coordinates routine activities with maintenance personnel. Advises visitors concerning safety, fire prevention, and proper and authorized uses of recreational facilities; inspects facilities and checks for compliance with rules and regulations pertaining to parking, campfires, noise level, sanitation, and safety; brings problems or violations to the attention of visitors and, if appropriate, issues notices of violations. Reviews visitor use patterns and their effect on the resource; suggests changes in operation or facilities. Oversees fee collection activities, maintains records on and accounts for funds, and submits deposits.
  • Performs road, traffic, boundary and/or hunting patrol; investigates motor vehicle accidents and issues citations, such as traffic and parking tickets or warnings, to violators; assists in preliminary investigation of felonies, such as drug smuggling or large scale poaching.
  • Responds to emergency calls and takes action necessary to preserve the peace, resolve problems, protect visitors and resources, apprehend violators, give emergency first aid and other appropriate assistance, and obtain and protect evidence. Provides visitors with information concerning points of interest, travel routes, historical and natural features, and park activities. Performs building and park security patrol and monitors security and fire alarm systems. Conducts or participates in various search and rescue operations that may involve such activities as underwater diving or mountain climbing.
  • Patrols lake area to ensure compliance with regulatory and administrative requirements. Investigates and reports all trespass or damage to Government property, showing amount of damage or type of trespass, persons involved, and recommendations for corrective action. When action is not taken to correct problems, issues warnings or citations for the violations. Inspects private mooring facilities to ensure issuance of and compliance with terms of permit. Provides applicants with information on issuance and terms of permits; takes initial application for permit; informs permit holders of action required to correct minor violations of permits and reports major violations to supervisor.
  • Performs skilled tasks in the fire management program; conducts field data collection of wildland fire behavior and weather; establishes photo monitoring stations on burn units; performs pre-burn and post-burn vegetation and fuel inventories; assists in the scheduling and preparation of unit burn plans. Services and maintains tools and equipment; conducts periodic inventories of fire caches and supplies; conducts field surveys and updates presuppression information, such as potential fire line locations, campsites, sources of water, and possible helicopter sites. Periodically inspects the park's fire prevention systems, determines whether systems are meeting the required standards of operation, and advises supervisor of inadequacies or potential problem areas.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-07

Park Rangers, GS-7, receive assignments of substantial variety for which established precedents are not fully applicable. GS-7 rangers select appropriate guidelines and references to solve operational problems or to facilitate details of the work planning process. Some GS-7 rangers develop revisions to standard work methods and procedures and take actions or make recommendations based on their preliminary interpretation of data.

GS-7 rangers typically apply a thorough, specific knowledge of agency policies, objectives, and operating methods related to the functional area(s) of assignments, and a good general knowledge of agency policies, objectives, and operating methods as they relate to the total activities in the park. Work at this level may also involve developmental assignments. Such assignments are typically in connection with an intensive training/rotational program.

The following assignments are illustrative:

  • Suggests new topics, revisions, and other changes or improvements in the overall interpretive program; participates in development of program plans that include program content, emphasis, and methods. Develops interpretive materials such as pamphlets, exhibits, and signs. Recommends location and layout of new exhibits. Responsible for onsite interpretive service, including development of daily work schedules that include tours of duty and location of assignments for the supervisor's approval. Audits and coaches other rangers in the interpretive program.
  • Acts as liaison with community organizations and interest groups in order to:
    (a) provide orientation to park programs and services; (b) stimulate interest in such programs and services; and (c) discover ways to facilitate visitation to and use of the park's recreational and educational facilities. Coordinates group visits with operational personnel and communicates schedules, logistical support requirements, and other pertinent data. Identifies visitor needs for specific programs and services through surveys, questionnaires, and group discussions. Recruits and trains candidates for volunteer programs, develops work projects, and coordinates activities with other park personnel. Observes, monitors, and evaluates onsite programs to determine if visitor needs are met; determines and recommends activities that community organizations could undertake to increase program effectiveness.
  • Monitors and inspects use of various resources, such as lands and shoreline, including leased land, concessions, docks, roads, and contract work performed. Plans day to day activities and recommends changes in the type or level of use and location of facilities. Provides information to visitors; makes presentations to interested groups. Advises adjacent landowners, users, and lessees on problems such as encroachment, violations of lease agreements, and noncompliance with permits or licenses; issues warnings or citations. Recommends measures to improve administration or use of facilities.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-09

Park Rangers, GS-9, apply resourcefulness, judgment, and ingenuity in the accomplishment of tasks such as the formulation and execution of park resource and interpretive plans and programs; the promotion of environmental, conservation, and public use programs; the planning and execution of resource management analyses concerning the level and types of uses of resources, deterioration in resources, and changes needed in operating programs or type of use; the planning and execution of management analyses concerning the effectiveness and visitor appeal of the interpretive programs and literature; and the development of necessary program improvements, including the selection of new media or techniques.

GS-9 rangers may be responsible for overseeing the development and execution of programs, including coordination of the work of other rangers, or may serve as staff specialists providing advice and guidance agencywide.

The following assignments are illustrative:

  • Drafts plans for operations, including resource management and seasonal staffing priorities. Compiles evaluation reports and makes recommendations on specific management problems, including scenic easement, special use permits, and visitor use and safety. Develops training programs and prepares new or revised guidelines and operating procedures that deal with matters such as regulatory or law enforcement activities, wildland and structural fire control, and search and rescue problems. Makes periodic inspections of campgrounds, picnic areas, Government buildings, trails, roads, lakeshores, and parking areas, to determine quality of operations and services, and uses this information to develop improvements in diverse areas such as added employee training, requests for new facilities, and changes in concessionaire operation.
  • Coordinates development and implementation of a variety of cultural history projects that include subject areas such as ethnic history, local folklore, historical sites and buildings, possible demonstration projects, and interpretive efforts regarding park history. Prepares portions of the interpretive planning and budgeting program documents. Identifies local cultural or historical sites and structures; recommends preservation, restoration, and/or maintenance needs. Develops portions of a cultural history resource management plan. Develops training materials and programs and provides direction and training to rangers in the implementation and utilization of interpretive materials. Monitors walks, talks, and cultural history demonstrations conducted by lower graded rangers, critiques these activities, and recommends individual or program improvements.
  • Coordinates the development and implementation of plans, such as the burro, back country, river, wildlife, fish, and vegetation management plans. Provides advice and guidance to ranger staff and management on the environmental impact of potential or proposed activities. Coordinates preparation of base maps and overlays for ecosystems of the area and assembles data files for use of rangers. Establishes a routine to monitor ecological processes, to identify incipient problems, and to develop and recommend corrective projects or programs. Reviews and analyzes new construction or other development proposals, including concession activities, to assure adequate preservation and appropriate use of all park resources. Coordinates programs for the protection of rare and endangered plant and animal species with staff within the agency and in other Federal, State, and local agencies and institutions.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-11

Park Rangers, GS-11, receive assignments that typically consist of diverse complex technical and/or administrative problems. They independently, on a regular and recurring basis, identify the nature of the problem and the kinds of information, criteria, and techniques needed to arrive at a solution. Typical assignments at the GS-11 level require consideration of and selection from several alternative approaches or solutions to problems and sometimes require substantial adaptation of standardized guides and criteria. Park Rangers, GS-11, are required to have substantial knowledge and understanding of the impact that the management of historical, cultural, and/or natural resources may have on communities and other interested groups, e.g., conservation and historical associations.

The work situation is characteristically one where development and planning are only partially completed, or if completed, require substantial modification to accommodate different characteristics than previously anticipated, such as a significant increase in visitor loads; a loss of visitor facilities or services due to vandalism, fire, or other similar circumstances; an increase in size of the land area to be managed; or a significant increase in organized and critical public interest in resource management plans.

The following assignments are illustrative:

  • Plans, develops, coordinates, and directs programs related to visitor services and resource management, such as search and rescue, recreation, hunting, trespass and traffic control, soil erosion control, fire management and presuppression, and protection of historic or prehistoric sites. Determines type, amount, and location of work to be accomplished for each activity; calculates cost of each activity based on staffing, equipment, supplies, and material requirements; and drafts and submits for approval the annual budget and operating program. Revises program activities to conform to approved and available funds, and implements and oversees annual operating program. Assesses condition and type of use of various recreational areas, including a major campground and a lengthy trail system. Develops recommendations for revisions to these areas, including modification in type of use and additions or deletions to the trail system. Leads studies concerning visitor service operations to assess the impact of visitor use on developed and undeveloped areas; recommends changes in use due to revision in estimated carrying capacity and/or actual or potential damage to resources. Controls visitor impact on back country and other key areas through the use of permits, reservations, or other suitable procedures. Develops plans for the safety of visitors and for appropriate search and rescue operations. Formulates standard operating procedures for all assigned functions and develops basic guidelines and procedures to follow in emergencies or unusual situations.
  • As a staff specialist, plans, organizes, or oversees studies and surveys on administrative, visitor, interpretive, and resource management problems. Recommends methods, procedures, and equipment needed to conduct studies, and, where appropriate, identifies persons or institutions qualified to assist in or carry out the projects. Drafts project plans for resource management activities, such as planning the steps necessary to prevent destruction of outstanding and irreplaceable historic structures and resources due to natural phenomena, problems caused by visitors, or other activities that would have an impact on the area's resources. Reviews proposals that may have an impact on park resources and prepares or coordinates the preparation of environmental assessments or environmental impact statements.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-12

Park Rangers, GS-12, are recognized as competent in the application of advanced techniques of resource management and/or in depth subject matter knowledge, and they apply their comprehensive experience and understanding in identifying, defining, and resolving problems connected with novel, undeveloped, or controversial aspects of resource management, interpretation, and use. Assignments typically are characterized by the requirement to extend or adapt guidelines and technical precedents, and the need to solve problems, in many instances, without benefit of adequate, consistent, or noncontroversial data or data sources.

GS-12 rangers direct complex programs in resource management, interpretation, and/or visitor services and perform advisory, coordination, and review services for park activities. The following situations are typical of those dealt with at this grade level: (a) an intense public interest in the development of additional recreational resource facilities that exists when the current level of use is already threatening one or more of the park's resources; (b) a strained relationship with the local community that develops because of efforts to acquire additional land to protect the existing resource; (c) the need to restrict entry to an area of significant public interest due to factors such as the fragile nature of the resources involved, severely limited funds, overcrowding, vandalism, motor vehicle noise and pollution, land development encroachment, or other related problems; or (d) the need to determine the extent to which it is appropriate to develop a particular resource. Because of situations like these, and because of the breadth or depth of the assigned area, assignments at the GS-12 level present substantial planning problems and require liaison with other personnel and organizations – both within the agency and outside of it. These assignments have complex technical, administrative, and/or public relations implications and typically require analyses and decisions in areas where precedents differ, there are no pertinent or apparent precedents, or significant management decisions change existing guidelines or appear to require a technical decision at variance with existing guides.

The following assignments are illustrative:

  • Is responsible for all resource management and visitor protection and service activities within a park. Serves as technical advisor on the more complex problems that arise in law enforcement, recreation programs, rescue and emergency services, and concessionaire relations. Formulates budgetary and administrative plans and oversees their implementation and review; this includes program planning and budgeting for law enforcement, training, visitor protection, campground management, fee collection, fire management, and safety. Develops agreements with law enforcement authorities, cooperating agencies, and neighbors. Evaluates new techniques, methods, and operational approaches for handling law enforcement, recreation programs, and other visitor service functions; evaluates, for example, whether revised campground layouts and plans are operationally feasible, whether new equipment is economical and practical, or whether new forms of recreational activity or new techniques for managing visitors can be put into effect.
  • Serves as an advisor and troubleshooter in an office having responsibility for a number of programs. Provides advisory assistance in the protection, conservation, and management of vegetation, soil, water, and wildlife resources. In cooperation with specialists, investigates/surveys and identifies insect infestation or diseased infection in vegetative cover. Recommends insect and disease control projects and assists in the implementation of these projects. Reviews projects for compliance with technical specifications and effectiveness of project strategy. Conducts field investigations and surveys of soil conditions to identify problem areas. In consultation with other specialists, recommends stabilization or conservation methods to restore areas. Coordinates the development of interagency cooperative agreements in the various areas of natural resource management. Develops, analyzes, evaluates, and recommends policies, programs, and objectives for resource management for all parks covered by the staff office.
  • Serves as a staff specialist for interpretive programs and policies in an office covering a number of parks. Evaluates effectiveness of interpretive programs carried out in the parks. Assists park staff in the development of diverse interpretive programs and advises them on ways to strengthen or improve quality through use of various media such as dance, theater, music, arts/crafts, and living history presentations. Provides advice and guidance in the planning, development, and operation of visitor centers, exhibits, and displays. Revises historical manuscripts, records, and interpretive documents and brochures to ensure that information in park programs is accurate and factual and to provide advice and assistance on revisions or the addition of new or different material. Coordinates interpretive training in various locations; reviews field training programs, provides advice on adequacy of their content, and makes recommendations for improvement.
Park Ranger, GS-0025-13

Park Rangers, GS-13, receive assignments that involve a high degree of judgment, resourcefulness, leadership skills, and expert problem solving abilities. They develop programs of broad scope with widespread impact and a high degree of complexity. The GS-13 Park Ranger is generally recognized as a technical expert or authority in his/her area of assignment.

Rangers at this level typically perform work at organizational levels above the park level. (Where the work is performed at park level, the park has a very complex program where the ranger's assignments are of such magnitude, complexity, importance, and level of public interest that the ranger discharges a key role in planning and administration of the total park program, that may affect nationwide programs.) The work at this level is characterized by problems of a unique nature for which the typical available guides are basic laws, conservation and use principles, and agency and fundamental park management philosophies. GS-13 rangers: (a) assert technical leadership and provide staff coordination, review, and consultation on basic issues in assigned functions; (b) determine the need for, initiate, and/or recommend policies, program procedures, and standards to be used as guides by park managers, rangers, contractors, concessionaires, lessees, and others in a variety of situations; (c) review operating programs for quality and effectiveness; and (d) develop a variety of original plans, concepts, systems, and programs that involve significant departures from current practices, are highly controversial, and embody numerous complex variables.

The following are illustrative assignments:

  • Serves as functional leader or program chief in an office in charge of a major phase of the agency's park program. Establishes program priorities and directs the preparation of instructions, information, guidelines, and plans for broad interpretive programs covering subjects such as natural resources, history (human and natural), and archeology. Provides advice, guidance, and coordination to the staff of various parks for the planning, development, and operation of interpretive facilities such as visitor centers, museums, and wayside exhibits, and, in consultation with subject-matter experts, for the preservation and curatorial management of collections of ethnologic material, natural history specimens, archeological objects, and historical artifacts. Plans and conducts field trips to keep informed of local conditions and concerns, to evaluate interpretive operations for quality and adherence to agency policies, guidelines, and practices, and to determine the effectiveness of current policies and practices.
  • Serves as an expert advisor and technical leader in the national office in several diverse program areas, including water oriented recreational activities, such as boating, swimming, and waterskiing; campground operation; and use of off-road vehicles, such as snowmobiles. Identifies the need for and drafts policies, guidelines, and procedures for field use. Reviews programs developed by lower level units for compliance with agency policy and guidelines and for quality and effectiveness; recommends appropriate action. Writes/reviews regulations; reviews proposed legislation and prepares comments. Reviews documents relating to park management objectives, planning, and resource management objectives and modifies them as necessary.
Supervisory Park Ranger (Regional Visitor Services Manager), GS-0025-14

A. Major Duties:

Incumbent serves as the Chief, Visitor Services and Communication and is responsible for the management of the region’s visitor services program. Work is directed towards providing the public with safe, accessible, and quality wildlifedependent recreation opportunities (e.g, hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education and interpretation) for the benefit of the American people as described in the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 and for law enforcement activities. Incumbent serves as a member of the regional management team and ensures that all wildlife-dependent recreational activities are appropriate, compatible and support the region’s resource management objectives. The incumbent ensures that a balanced approach is provided to field stations on recreation, education and cultural resource programs.

The incumbent represents the Regional Director in establishing and directing activities affecting the refuges across the region. The incumbent provides technical expertise and leadership and directs staff efforts in all areas of visitor services management. This position is responsible for the overall direction, review, planning, and coordination of all visitor services program activities.

Duties Include:

The incumbent supervises the Visitor Services and Communication and as such is responsible for providing technical and professional supervision to all service programs on recreation, interpretation, environmental education, cultural resources and museum property and implementing actions that support the objectives and priorities of the management of the Service. Incumbent coordinates activities among refuges to include comprehensive cultural resource operations throughout the region and coordination advocacy with key public and private partners. The position requires the employee to establish and maintain nurturing relationships with non-Service partners who assist in wildlife conservation and cultural resource efforts through regional and refuge partners in wildlife.

The incumbent is knowledgeable of the technical aspects of communications and visitor services recognizing the effect of capacity on the refuge and the resource, the National Wildlife Refuge System strategic growth acquisition efforts, law enforcement activities, and the cultural resource and historic elements within the refuges. He/she reviews proposed realty acquisitions and habitat developments and acquisition for cultural and historical significance.

He/she supervises a staff responsible for coordinating new developments affecting the work of the Regional staff members and refuges regionwide. Supervisory counterparts in the other Regional offices and National office are consulted for cooperative efforts and effective implementation. The incumbent may be called upon to brief Service personnel in order to assist in developing and refining Regional and National efforts within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

He/she supervises a staff responsible for coordinating new developments affecting the work of Regional staff members and refuges regionwide. Supervisory counterparts in the other Regional offices and National office are consulted for cooperative efforts and effective implementation. The incumbent may be called upon to brief Service personnel in order to assist in developing and refining Regional and national efforts within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

As the authority and expert in areas of communication and visitor services, the incumbent consults with peer Division Chiefs and the ARD for External Affairs to resolve controversial issues, and participates in Departmental and interdepartmental workgroups on accessible outdoor recreation sites including lakes, recreation fees, and visitor carrying capacities, on education issues, and on cultural resource issues relating to repatriation, fossils, historic sites, and museum properties. The incumbent is required to develop strategies to solve problems or resolve issues as such is considered an expert in all these areas.

The incumbent assists other Regional National Wildlife Refuge System staff in developing communication strategies on policy releases and legislation implementation affecting the National Wildlife Refuge System, recognizing the impact of statements and the interest of a diverse audience.

The incumbent supports the ecosystem approach to refuge management and provides compliance oversight on habitat conservation in relation to the Archeological Resources Protection Act and regulations affecting cultural and historical resource activities throughout the region, and by reviewing habitat conservation plans for endangered species, refuge operations, and regional peer actions in relation to the impact of increasing numbers of visitors to the refuges in response to cultural and historic events and activities.

He/she performs a full range of supervisory/managerial duties and responsibilities over the division staff. Serves as technical program expert in charge of new program policy, procedures and systems for the assigned area, identifying training needs and expectations. Supervises all work performed in subordinate organizations, evaluating such toward meeting division goals and objectives.

He/she monitors progress, evaluates effectiveness, and recommends program changes and modifications to specific goals and objectives. Ensures optimal use of administrative resources such as funding, space, supplies, equipment, and personnel. Estimates and justifies funding needs. Manages division budget for special projects and studies to be carried out by subordinates, contractors, and consultants.

Actively supports Service diversity goals in day-to-day activities and provides positive direction through personal commitment.

Supervises a staff of specialists and coordinators to accomplish National and Regional policy direction and technical assistance in the areas of law enforcement, environmental education/interpretation, visitor services facilities, hunting and fishing programs, volunteers, YCC, partnerships, grants, and in the design and production of various products, including publications, interpretive signs, and exhibits. Performs various supervisory activities such as assigning and coordinating work, evaluating performance, resolving issues, recommending and implementing personnel actions, and hiring and training new employees.

Provides technical staff support and direction to the Regional Refuge Chief, Deputy Regional Refuge Chief, and other Assistant Regional Directors for carrying out Refuge and other Program operations and administration including product development, visitor services requirements evaluation, recreation fee, concessions management, outreach, signs, environmental education, scouting, accessibility, publications standards and design, special initiatives, public use in wilderness areas, the Duck Stamp program, partnerships, grants, refuge support groups, volunteers, law enforcement and other areas.

Serves as the primary point of contact with the Division of Refuges in Washington D.C. on nationally coordinated issues or programs related to environmental education, visitor services, volunteers, partnerships, and other areas, in addition to special initiatives. Provides critical review of proposed National policy on a variety of Refuge System issues and develops both written comment and alternatives to such policy.

Provides compliance oversight on National policy, procedures, and regulations affecting National Wildlife Refuges and other Programs throughout the Region. Provides technical assistance on these issues to field stations throughout the Region and develops related Regional policy, as needed.

Assists with development of Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans, visitor services plans, and other step-down plans, providing up-front planning services and guidance toward the development of goals, objectives, and strategies. Provides advice and guidance related to environmental education and visitor services to the Regional Refuge Chief and Refuge Supervisors in the area of complex or controversial compatibility issues.

Evaluates Regional and field station-specific public use and environmental education programs based on standard visitor service requirements to determine the effectiveness of the program and adherence to these standards, and makes recommendations for program improvement. Determines a schedule of annual field station evaluations.

Coordinates directly with other Service Programs and Offices such as Fisheries, Ecological Services, Engineering, Contracting and General Services, and others to ensure coordination of projects and activities that affect refuges, and to provide guidance and direction toward the implementation of policy and regulations within these Programs and Offices. Coordinates with State officials, other federal agencies, and non-government organizations on various issues related to all aspects of the visitor services program.

Prepares and reviews correspondence, briefing statements, and plans for the Regional Refuge Chief, Regional Director, and Director in response to Congressional inquiries, State and Federal agency inquiries, Washington Office requests, and general public requests for information on Refuge issues.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Outdoor recreation planners seek to provide recreation opportunities for people in urban, seashore, forest, and other environments. Consequently, the outdoor recreation planning positions may require consideration of particular aspects of one or more fields, e.g., economics, urban planning, sociology, landscape architecture, forestry, wildlife biology, park administration, or soil conservation. The planners consult at length with specialists in these related fields when the need arises. The planners must possess a framework of knowledge and competence which will not only facilitate communication but provide insight as to which specialists to consult, at which point, and for what reason. The degree to which there is a need for knowledge of certain disciplines will vary with the position.

The following are examples of roles which several disciplines play in outdoor recreation planning:

  • Forestry – A large proportion of outdoor recreation activities is on forest lands. A basic familiarity with forest management practices is significant. Such knowledge is important in outdoor recreation planning because of the necessity to consider the behavior of these lands under varying intensities and types of use.
  • Sociology – Outdoor recreation planners must understand the relationships between income and other socioeconomic factors, such as education, occupations, leisure, and age in planning outdoor recreation. There is differential participation in outdoor recreation related to income. The variation in participation is especially important when such expensive activities as boating, water skiing, and horseback riding are considered. Also, sensitivity to urban problems in outdoor recreation planning and development is important.
  • Wildlife biology – Some understanding of habitat requirements and ecological relationships of wildlife facilities is necessary for planning the use of land and water for recreation purposes. Unless the wildlife requirements are provided for there will not be much prospect of maintaining wildlife in the recreation areas. A similar understanding of aspects of fishery biology is important.
  • Economics – Outdoor recreation planners apply some knowledge of economics in calculating recreational benefits. They analyze the currently available supply and distribution of recreational facilities, and project potential demand. Economic considerations must be brought to bear in determining location of facilities, intensity of development, and whether potential use justifies development costs. Also, the difficult evaluation of intangible benefits obtainable from open space, greenbelt areas, and other such resources must be taken into account along with tangible gains or losses when resource development decisions are made.
  • Soil and water conservation – Outdoor recreation planners apply an understanding of conservation in determining suitability of land for recreational use and the appropriate conservational practices and measures needed for protection and improvement of the land or water. The planner must be sensitive to the limitations and treatment needs of soil, water and related resources to create or maintain the quality of the environment through proper management of these resources.

The following information is from the California Projections of Employment published by the Labor Market Information Division. These figures represent the broad occupational group Compliance Officers and Enforcement Inspectors that includes Park Rangers.

Estimated number of workers in 1990 21,240

Estimated number of workers in 2005 22,610

Projected Growth Percentage 1990-2005 7%

Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 5,200

Park Ranger (Protection) $53,100
Park Ranger (Interpretation) 16,200
Park Ranger (Fire Education) 17,350
Park Ranger (Resources Monitor) 19,800
Park Ranger (River Patrol) 14,670

The large numbers of temporary, seasonal jobs in the Park Ranger series typically are filled by high school or college students, generally do not have formal education requirements, and are open to anyone with the desired personal qualities. Employers compete for a share of the vacationing student labor force, and although salaries in recreation often are lower than those in other fields, the nature of the work and the opportunity to work outdoors are attractive to many.

Sources of Additional Information

Information on obtaining Park Ranger positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or  (703) 724–1850  or TDD (978) 461–8404 and   (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; and
  • Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Standards.

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