Live the Dream: National Park Service Ranger

Classic dream jobs and the new rules for landing them

Sep 17, 2012
Outside Magazine
National Park Service Ranger Sh

National Park Service Ranger Shutterstock.    Photo: William Silver

WHY IT'S GREAT: Your office is Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier....

FIRST KNOW THIS: It’s essentially a hybrid law-enforcement and visitor-services job that requires long hours and constant public interaction—i.e., saving tourists from themselves.

GET THE GIG: According to National Park Service communications director Kathy Kupper, people usually start off as seasonal volunteers—or working concessions, pumping gas, or cleaning park bathrooms—while simultaneously loading up on EMT, whitewater-rescue, and fire-management courses. It may take upwards of five years to secure a permanent position at a smaller park. Before landing your dream job at Yosemite, you’ll need to take recertification classes and expand your skill set to include things like helicopter and rappelling rescues.

START HERE: Seasonal and permanent NPS jobs are posted at, and volunteer opportunities are listed at

SALARY: $41,000–$54,000.