How to Become a Park Ranger

Park rangers have an important job: to be the best stewards of our country’s state and national parks. There are many roles and responsibilities of a park ranger but the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) essentially puts them into two camps, protection/law enforcement park rangers and cultural/interpretive park rangers.

The Nevada Police Union (NPU) represents sworn peace officers who are required to perform general park ranger duties like resource management, visitor services including collecting fees and cleaning bathrooms, and park visitor protection while also being responsible for public safety. Rangers who act as law enforcement are also called park police.

Law enforcement rangers are trained and certified to perform police duties including making arrests, carrying out investigations, and carrying a sidearm. They have the same authority as fully commissioned officers and are responsible for controlling and securing the park and performing emergency services including search and rescue operations.

How to Become a Park Ranger

Different park roles require different levels of education, experience, and training program certification. In Nevada, state park rangers work for the Parks Division of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. According to Park, in order to become a full-time park ranger at a Nevada state park, the applicant must:

  • Have a four-year Bachelor’s degree in environmental science, natural sciences, or recreation-related field
  • Be in good physical condition
  • Possess knowledge of Nevada’s flora and fauna
  • Demonstrate excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Have no criminal record
  • Present a valid Nevada driver license
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass the POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) exam

Seasonal work is also an option for those who are interested in shorter-term park employment. The requirements for a Seasonal Park Ranger Technician I include:

  • A high school diploma or the equivalent
  • One year or more experience at a park, zoo, museum, or interpretive visitor center or an acceptable combination of education and work experience
  • Good physical condition
  • A clean background check
  • Excellent customer service skills

Open park ranger jobs with the Nevada Department of Natural Resources are posted by the Division of Human Resources Management (DHR) and can be found here, after applying through the state’s recruiting system, Nevada Applicant Processing & Placement System (NVAPPS).

Nevada State Parks:

Nevada is home to Great Basin National Park near the Nevada/Utah border, which is the only national park in the state. Popular Nevada State Parks which employ both full-time and seasonal park rangers include:

  • Lake Tahoe State Park
    • Parks on the Nevada side of the lake total 14,301 acres and include Sand Harbor, Spooner Lake, and Cave Rock
  • Valley of Fire
    • Nevada’s first state park located 55 miles outside of Las Vegas
  • Mormon Station State Historic Park
    • In the historic town of Genoa, it was the first non-native settlement in Nevada
  • Dayton State Park
    • In the town of Dayton, at the foot of the Virginia Range, on the banks of the Carson River
  • Cathedral Gorge
    • Geologic reserve of dramatic landscape in northeastern Nevada

Nevada’s state park system includes both natural and historical sites that see as many as 3.3 million visitors a year!

Nevada Police Union | Nevada Park Rangers

NPU represents Nevada’s sworn peace officers which include park police. As a union, we fight for representation in legislation for Nevada State Park Rangers to provide fair compensation, adequate benefits, and better working conditions. As public employees, park rangers deserve workplace representation which our union can provide.

Ranger Allen Wooldridge knows the value of NPU representation, saying:

“I’m proud to be a member of NPU. It’s important for Nevada’s Park Rangers to have a collective voice to fight for improvements in working conditions, pay, and benefits.”

To learn more about employment opportunities and open park ranger positions, visit