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  • LE Ranger

    I know there are multiple topics out there on this subject and I have read them and they are very informative. I wanted to start this in a separate thread because I was looking for some individualized feedback and didn't want to hijack a thread.

    Up until recently I had very little knowledge of ranger positions. As time has gone by and as I move closer to starting a career I have really started to consider what specific path I should take. After some research I feel working as a federal or local ranger would be an excellent fit as it combines two things I am very devoted and passionate about: law enforcement and the environment. After reading the threads on this board I still have a few questions and would like some feedback on how I can develop my background to make me more desirable for this highly competitive career. Any responses from past and present LE Ranger's and Refuge Officers would be greatly appreciated.

    I am currently a student with about 1.5 years of college remaining at a local state college. I am a Business Administration major and an Economics minor with concentrations in Finance and Human Resources Management. I have an overall GPA of 3.5/4.0 and I intend to keep it that way. I also possess an associates degree in General Studies and another in Criminal Justice from community colleges.

    Are these educational qualifications seen as desirable? Would it benefit me greatly to change my course of study to something more directly related to the job? I am not very eager to change my major as I have quite a bit of time invested in the program, but I would consider changing my minor. My current school offers minors in Environmental Earth Science, Geography, Biology, and Sustainable Energy Studies. I would prefer to stick with my current minor because if I went with one of the above choices it would extend my time at the school another semester. I simply want to know if having one of these minors would make me significantly more competitive to justify the time investment?

    I am a National Guardsman with 4 years experience as Security Forces ("military police"). I spent 8 months in Afghanistan so I have my veteran status. How much does vet status help for federal employment as a ranger?

    For civilian experience I am a non-paid Auxiliary Police Sergeant for a mid-size PD with about 2 years on and work a security job. Can my experience as an Auxiliary officer be used as 'specialized experience'?

    I find my security job to be overall unrewarding and unpleasant. What civilian employment could I pursue that would make me more competitive as a candidate? Please keep in mind that I am full-time student and do not have a wide open schedule.

    Lastly, how worthwhile would it be for me to get my EMT cert?

    Sorry for the lengthy post, but thanks for the help.

  • #2
    I snipped this from a current announcement:

    EXPERIENCE: You must show one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-04 level in the federal service. Specialized experience is experience that equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully perform the duties of this position. Examples of specialized experience could include Park Guide or tour leader; law enforcement or investigative work; archeological or historical preservation research work; forestry and/or fire management work in a park, recreation, or conservation area; management, assistant, or program specialist work involving the development and implementation of policy related to protection, conservation, or management of park areas or similar operations; or other similar work.


    EDUCATION: You must possess a 4 year course of study above high school leading to a bachelor's degree with 24 semester hours of related course work. One year of full time undergraduate study is defined as 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours. Related course work are subjects such as natural resource management, natural sciences, earth sciences, history, archeology, anthropology, park and recreation management, law enforcement/police science, social sciences, museum sciences, business administration, public administration, behavioral sciences, sociology, or other closely related subjects pertinent to the management and protection of natural and cultural resources.
    So, your business admin degree is qualifying for an entry-level position. It's basically a "check the box," do you have a degree or not? Beyond entry level, you're evaluated on how you've performed on the job, although the knowledge and skills gained during your academic career will certainly be helpful if you move into a supervisory or managerial capacity.

    IMHO, security guard probably wouldn't count as specialized experience. Depending on how much you do as an auxiliary officer (i.e., are you sworn, armed, etc.), that may qualify as "law enforcement." Specialized experience can be gained from non-paid work, and is evaluated at the rate of 2080 hours equals one year of experience. Even if you don't get credit for specialized experience, if you keep that good GPA (Superior Academic Achievement) and get your business admin bachelor's degree, you'd qualify for a GL-7, and GL-5/7 are the most commonly advertised vacancies it seems.

    Edited to add: Between your military Security Forces experience and your Auxiliary experience, you might be able to articulate specialized experience. It's all in what you did and how you word it, and for how long you did it all, and how many hours a week, etc. Without further info, I can't really speculate. But like I said, with a bachelor's and SAA, you've got GL-7 made anyway.

    Veterans preference will certainly help, between the hiring preference, extra points, and the ability to apply for status jobs right off the bat (if you meet the requirements of VEOA or whatever it is. I'm not a vet, so I'm not up on all that stuff.)

    However, unless you find one of the rare GL-5/7 positions that don't require a commission, you will still have to pay your own way through the seasonal academy. And, be prepared to work a few seasons as a seasonal LE. If you play it right, you can get picked up permanent quickly (even right out of the academy), but it's not a guarantee by any means.

    EMT would be very beneficial. It's possible to get hired without it, but some parks do require it. Even if it's not required, it's a good way to put yourself an extra little step ahead. (It's one more job you can come in and immediately start doing, without the park having to devote time and money to getting you trained up.) Some seasonal academies offer first responder, but if you can get EMT, you'll be better off in the long run.

    If you have a local volunteer FD or rescue squad, consider joining up. Not only might they get you your EMT training, but you'll get some practical experience doing EMS work too. Plus, if you can become a certified structural firefighter, that's yet ANOTHER cert that puts you above the rest (depending on if the NPS will accept your firefighter training). Also, rescue discipline classes (tech rescue, high angle, swift water, etc.) all could be useful.

    Yes, it sucks that the NPS likes you to get so much done on your own before you get on the job, but if you're serious about a career with the NPS and being the best candidate, it's the game they expect you to play.

    If you're looking for employment, consider some of the non-LE summer seasonal jobs the NPS offers which don't require a bachelor's degree. Series 0090 Park Guides or 0303 Visitor Use Assistants are two examples. They would get you some park experience, some NPS experience, and let you start networking. Networking in the NPS is crucial.

    Just my opinion, but someone who applied to the NPS with a year as a volunteer FF/EMT, those certifications, and a summer as a park guide would be a very competitive candidate.

    I think I addressed all the questions you posed. If you'd like any more info or clarification, let me know.
    Last edited by Squirrel; 01-06-2011, 05:50 PM.


    • #3
      I concur with Squirel,,, EMT, Vol. FF, will help, Security Guard, not so much so.. APD Sgt. might help, depending on whether you are armed and sworn. ANG will ehlp because of VP Points.. I would also go to a seasonal Ranger academy to get eligible fora Level 2 commission.... Google seasonal NPS LE Rangers and the training centers will come up.

      If you do well as a seasonal, you MIGHT get offered a F/T job.


      • #4
        Thanks for the responses. Unfortunately due to my current military obligation working any seasonal NPS positions would just not be possible at this time. In another six months I'm heading back overseas for 8 months and 6 months after that I am finished with my obligation. At that point I should be finished with my degree and will be interested in paying my way through NPS level 2. At that point I will not be as interested in Park Guide positions as I will already have my BS. I would prefer to work a few seasons as a seasonal LE Ranger anyways so I can more or less get a feel for somewhere I would like to put in some years full time and also give me the opportunity to network. I also am not at all opposed to starting out in a full time position in an urban park or a southern border park.

        For the time being, my state hires seasonal rangers with duties similar to that of a park guide with some enforcement duties. Does the NPS see any value to local ranger experience? I may be able to consider taking a pay cut for a couple months this summer.

        I will definitely get my EMT certification knowing it will be quite beneficial. I will have to think about getting onto my local FD, I sometimes already feel quite overextended. My local community college has an EMT cert program that would allow me to obtain it for free with my VA benefits. I know how to get a local state of CT EMT cert, but how do I get the national 'N-EMT' cert.?

        What opportunities are there for advancement and training within the NPS? Is there a traditional rank structure or is it simply ranger and supervisory park ranger? Are there specialized 'units' like in a traditional police organization? I know everything is pretty specific to the park you work in, but in general what is the typical type of work/daily activities a ranger can expect to perform in an urban park? southern border park? back country park?

        Do full time LE Rangers fall under a 20 year fixed pension retirement?
        Last edited by CTCop326; 01-13-2011, 04:45 PM. Reason: Additional question


        • #5
          Sit down and grab some popcorn. This is gonna be long.

          It's not required to have prior NPS experience, or any sort of park experience, prior to working NPS LE. Taking the local parks and rec job probably wouldn't HURT your chances. However, the big advantage to working with NPS is the ability to network with the people who may want to hire you in the future. If you want to work for the NPS, working at the state level doesn't give you that interaction. I'm not saying it's BAD, I'm just saying that the networking opportunities are fewer, if you're looking for a federal job. So, if taking the local parks and rec job would require you to sacrifice pay, benefits, etc. that you have in your current job, I would say it might not be worth it. This is especially true if you're going to work seasonally, and will need to rely on savings during the SLETP, etc.

          Even the full-time LE positions in urban areas are difficult to get. Your vet preference WILL help, but don't be surprised if you still have to some seasonal time. While it's possible to get hired permanently straight out of the academy, it's not likely. You should never bank on that happening.

          National Registry EMT (NREMT) requires you to pass a state-approved EMT course and state-approved practical exam. You also have to take a written exam for NREMT. Visit for more info. If you get the application started and get the required signatures, etc., as you complete your state process, it's a lot easier. Some states actually require you to have NREMT before you get a state EMT card, but I don't know about Connecticut.

          If you can't do the local FD thing, it's certainly still possible to get hired without that training. NPS can send you to wildland and strucutural fire, rescue, etc. if they want you to have it. What I listed was essentially my ideal candidate (not that I'm a hiring authority), or what I would do if I had to do it all over again.

          Duties, are largely dependent on the type of park you're at. At some of the smaller park units, you may be a tour guide with a gun. At some of the urban parks, you will be more like a security guard/information kiosk with a gun. Even at large parks with proactive law enforcement programs, you will be, first and foremost, a Ranger.

          Allow me to quote Stephen Mather for a moment:
          If a trail is to be blazed, it is "send a ranger." If an animal is floundering in the snow, a ranger is sent to pull him out; if a bear is in the hotel, if a fire threatens a forest, if someone is to be saved, it is "send a ranger." If a Dude wants to know the why of Nature's ways, if a Sagebrusher is puzzled about a road, his first thought is, "ask a ranger." Everything the ranger knows, he will tell you, except about himself.
          Yes, I've checked weather stations, built fences and mopped toilets while wearing a gun. And since you will wear the same uniform and hat as park guides and interpretive Rangers, people will simply see a Ranger, and not make the distinction. They WILL run up to you while you're on traffic stops to ask you what a certain critter is. They WILL ask you what all the stuff on your belt is. Don't worry, you'll get used to it.

          You will see that most LE Ranger positions are actually called "Protection Rangers." While it sounds like we should be handing out condoms, it actually is a pretty accurate description. The mission of the NPS is "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." (NPS Organic Act, 1916.)

          So, what do we protect? We protect the park from the people, the people from the park, and the people from the people. Every NPS employee does that in different ways. Interpreters do it by educating the public about the value of the resource. Maintenance does it by maintaining facilities and trails, building fences, etc. LE Rangers do it by enforcement of laws, and other duties necessary to accomplish those protection goals.

          In many parks, those other duties include emergency medical services. Some parks staff an ambulance, while others rely on EMS from the local community. Either way, you will still be expected to provide basic first aid. Some parks staff structural fire engines. Occasionally, you may be called to assist on wildland fires as well. Technical rescue, including high angle or swift water rescue, is also a major component of life at some parks.

          The exact split of duties will vary from park to park, so I can't really say what the "average" is. Some things you can plan, like a backcountry, boundary, or trail patrol. Other things you respond to, such as a car wreck, a fire or a medical incident. Sometimes those responses totally frag your plans for the day, too. Sometimes, you get told to ferry a vehicle to the shop, and you spend an entire day waiting for your ride to be fixed. If you like having a routine, being a Ranger isn't for you. Flexibility is key. In exchange for you being flexible, you get the chance to do some really wild, crazy, and cool stuff -- and you can potentially do a wider variety of stuff in one day than you could have ever imagined.

          I've never worked at a border park, but I would assume that the percentage of LE duties there are a lot higher. Urban parks, be prepared for foot posts, and dealing with urban issues (drunks, drugs, homeless folks). Big things still happen, especially considering the significance of some of the urban parks, like Independence NHP. There are protests, terror threats, dignitary visits, etc. However, you're not out running and gunning like the city police. Your jurisdiction is frequently very limited, as it should be, since your responsibility is first and foremost to the park.

          No matter what the duty mix, LE Rangers are considered to be LE "first." That is, if you're a commissioned officer, you will be ready to perform LE duties. You don't put the gun ON to go handle a LE incident, you take it OFF to go fight a fire. (Highly recommended that you DO take it off to fight a fire, BTW...) Plus, you never know when your medical incident will become a LE incident. When you're both the cop and the medic, you have to be equipped to handle that change in mission.

          Advancement is highly dependent on the park as well. Since you have a military background, I'm assuming you understand span of control. The same thing applies in the NPS. The hierarchy expands to meet the needs of the operation. While Rangers don't wear rank insignia, there is a chain of command to be followed.

          Smaller parks may have a Chief, and a couple Rangers, or even just a single Ranger. At a slightly bigger park, you may have a Chief, two District Rangers, and a couple Rangers under each of those DRs. As you get even bigger, you introduce Assistant Chiefs, Sub-District Rangers, etc. So, at a really big park, you might have a Chief of Visitor and Resource Protection (Chief Ranger), Assistant Chief of LE, Assistant Chief of EMS/Fire/Rescue, a couple District Rangers under the Assistant Chief of LE, each DR might have a Sub-District Ranger or two under them, and then the patrol Rangers under the sub-DRs.

          As a note for your reference: A Ranger is at the full performance level at the GL-9 grade, and there is non-competitive promotion up to that point (for permanents only, not seasonals). Beyond that, it's by competitive process again. And since the hierarchy expands as needed, not all grades beyond GL-9 are "equal." Some places may have GL-11 Chief, others may have a GS-14 Chief, depending on what intermediate levels exist.

          The more layers there are, the more removed from field work you get as you go up, of course. Don't expect to spend a career at one park, either, if you want to move up in the world. Expect to move around, in order to find open spots for advancement. Even if you become a GS-12 Chief Ranger at one park, you might find more opportunity for growth, more challenges, or more excitement as a GS-12 District Ranger or Assistant Chief somewhere else. There is no "promote or die," of course. You get to make the call of where to go and how far to climb, based upon your desires. If you want, you can stay at one park as a GL-9 Patrol Ranger for life. There are also lots of opportunities for collateral duties, like fire/SAR/EMS coordinator, if you want to take on more challenges/responsibility, but don't want to "promote."

          Training, like duties and advancement, is dependent upon the park. Most parks will pay to send you to training that benefits them. So, if your park doesn't have a fire engine, then they probably won't send you to structural fire class just to boost your resume. However, if you've got a busy fire program, or a busy rescue program, or a busy EMS program, expect there to be formal training opportunities, drills, in-service training, etc. to keep up on skills. Some parks use boats, ATVs, etc., so there are opportunities there. There are opportunities for training with local agencies near you, like the State Patrol, Division of Wildlife, etc. There are also Federal training opportunities, like backcountry tracking and tactics, or EMS training (park medic).

          There are also opportunities for short-term details. Some details are as short as a day, others are a lot longer. You may be simply boosting staffing at a park for an event, or you may be Acting Chief, or Acting District Ranger while they look for a permanent replacement. Those are good opportunities to boost your resume, learn new skills, see other parks and areas of the country, and to network.

          I would encourage you to look at to see what's going on regularly in the NPS. It also lists open jobs (mostly promotions), detail opportunties, and training opportunities. (Some days they have jobs listed, others have training, so check back frequently.)

          The closest thing to a specialty team in the law enforcement side of NPS is the SETT teams (Special Event Tactical Teams). They can be mobilized to provide staffing boosts during a crisis (such as Katrina), or in advance of major planned protests, etc. They are regional teams, so you're driving or flying to get to your destination. It's not like a SWAT-type callout where you're there instantly. Some parks do have their own tactical-type, quick-response units. However, staffing is always an issue, so it's unlikely that any park tactical team would be able to fully handle a complex, ongoing incident without outside assistance.

          Beyond that, there isn't a whole lot of specialization in the NPS. Remember, the Ranger is traditionally a generalist. It wasn't even until the 70's that they made a distinction between LE and non-LE. Until then, every Ranger had a gun and did it all. That tradition of the NPS employee being a generalist continues today.

          There are 1811-series Special Agents who handle complex or significant investigations (or you hand off to other agencies, like FBI), but for routine stuff, if you catch it, you clean it. There aren't any crash teams or crime scene techs to call. You'll dust for your own prints, take your own photos, measure your own accidents, interview your own witnesses, etc.

          I will note, however, that the amount you do does depend on your type of jurisdiction. In concurrent jurisdiction, you share jurisdiction with the state/local agencies, with everybody maintaining full authority. In exclusive jurisdiction, it's all Federal. In proprietary jurisdiction, you drop back and punt most everything to the locals. So, a murder in a park with exclusive jurisdiction would be handled very differently than a murder in a park with proprietary jurisdiction. Likewise, if you have concurrent jurisdiction, the park may choose to have the Highway Patrol investigate your serious/fatal wrecks, because they've got the expertise. That option doesn't exist if it's exclusive jurisdiction.

          And yes, LE (Protection) Rangers in the career service (permanent, not seasonal, temporary, or term) are covered by 6c retirement.


          • #6
            Whoa, Squirell, that was a whole lot of GREAT info, I concur 100% about what he said,,,, I tried for years to becom a seasonal Ranger, and I did not have a big enough hook.... The one thing that currently turns me off about "LE or Protection" Rangers is hat THE SALARY SUCKS. G-5, 7, 9 entry, you will get 11 if you make a supervisors position in a bigger park, MAYBE a 12 if you make hief, but beyond tat, there is very little room for upward mobility, IMHO...

            You must be prepared to make an average salary while at this job, and the money is no where as good as a 1811, or a lot of Uniformed LE jobs.

            But you get to work in some of the most beautiful places, and live in Govt. husing, (thats a whole other probelm), and the cost of living in most of these park areas is fairly reasonable.


            • #7
              Do the majority of permanent positions give free government housing, or is it more of something common only with seasonals? Even if I were to never get hired into a permanent position I would be happy to work a couple seasons, almost any federal or local agency would consider it as valuable experience. I am more interested in the type of work rather than the agency, so I would like to try to remain flexible.


              • #8
                Wildlife is correct. To expand on that: the job announcement should say, "government housing is/is not required." It will also say "government housing is/may be/is not available." There are financial implications with regards to required housing. When I was a required occupant, the "rent" was deducted from my pay, but that portion of my pay was listed as non-taxable on my W2. When I was in park housing, but not a required occupant, my rent was still deducted, but I was still taxed on that money. Another financial implication: If you're in the park, you'll probably be higher up on the list for call-outs. Call-outs mean overtime, which means cash-money.

                As a seasonal, I never paid for utilities, but permanents do (at least in some places). Either way, as Wildlife said, it's not free, but it's cheaper than a comparable place in the community pretty much anywhere. Plus, it's CLOSE to work (duh, it's AT work). In some places, if I wanted to live outside of the park, I'd be tacking on a 45 minute commute each way, plus gas, plus wear and tear.

                But if you're in the park and you've got a take-home ride, you're 10-8 from the driveway. If you don't have a take-home, but you live in the headquarters area, you wander to the office, grab a car, and you're 10-8. The NPS is the only place I've ever had a five minute walking commute, and the only traffic I encountered on the way were a bunch of grazing mule deer.

                Plus, when you live in a decently-sized park community, you're surrounded by likeminded people. They understand the Parkie life style, enjoy the outdoors, work odd schedules, etc. There's lots of opportunities for socializing, cookouts, sports, etc.

                I think you've got the right mindset Cremy. Go in being flexible. Feel out a few parks before making a final judgement. A natural park is different from a cultural park, a big one is different from a small one, etc. Figure out what you like and don't like, and go from there. You might decide you'd enjoy being a game warden, Trooper, deputy, or local officer more.


                • #9
                  Out of curiosity, what is the hiring process like to become a seasonal LE ranger?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cremy03
                    Out of curiosity, what is the hiring process like to become a seasonal LE ranger?
                    The positions are advertised on You apply, HR does ... whatever it is that HR does ... and they create a cert. The cert is forwarded to the hiring official. The hiring official conducts interviews (usually by phone unless you're close by). The hiring official thinks it over and makes offers. At some point, you have to pass a physical efficiency battery (PEB). It's a pre-hire requirement, plus you must pass it again once you report for duty. There's a provision for only doing it within a couple days of reporting, if it's not practical for you to do it before you report, but they don't like to do that since if you fail, then you can't work, and they're behind the curve on filling the position. So, odds are you're taking a drive to a nearby NPS unit with a PEB coordinator to be put through the test.


                    • #11
                      Will NPS accept any other Fed LEO training for seasonal law enforcement ranger? Or only training from one of their 9 approved academies? Also are the Seasonal Protection Rangers armed LEO's?
                      Last edited by Mr. Green; 01-24-2011, 02:29 PM.
                      The only thing I hear when you say anything is "blah blah blah I'm a dirty whore".

                      Originally posted by Michigan
                      I don't want to sound gay...

                      But I'd do him.
                      Do you like airplanes and aviation??JOIN

                      My goal is to have the longest most annoying signature line ever.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mr. Green
                        Will NPS accept any other Fed LEO training for seasonal law enforcement ranger? Or only training from one of their 9 approved academies? Also are the Seasonal Protection Rangers armed LEO's?
                        To answer the last part (I guess that got edited in), yes. Seasonal LE/protection Rangers are sworn, commissioned, armed LEOs. They are issued a Level 2 commission, vs. a FLETC grad who is issued a Level 1 commission. There are some administrative/policy restrictions on what a Level 2 can do vs. a Level 1, but those don't come up terribly often (mainly dealing with things like felonies, fatalities, etc.).


                        • #13
                          ^^Yeah it was, thanks!
                          The only thing I hear when you say anything is "blah blah blah I'm a dirty whore".

                          Originally posted by Michigan
                          I don't want to sound gay...

                          But I'd do him.
                          Do you like airplanes and aviation??JOIN

                          My goal is to have the longest most annoying signature line ever.


                          • #14
                            Squirrel, is the only requirement for a level 1 certification the completion of the LMPT, or does it require some specific add on to the LMPT?


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AZDesertRat
                              Squirrel, is the only requirement for a level 1 certification the completion of the LMPT, or does it require some specific add on to the LMPT?
                              LMPT and NPS field training. But no, there's no add-on like Refuge Officer Basic School or anything.


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