How to Find a Job With the U.S. National Park Service

Park Ranger leading childrens field trip; Acadia National Park, Maine
Johann Schumacher/Photolibrary/Getty Images

If you enjoy being in nature and meeting new people, U.S. National Park Service (NPS) jobs may appeal to you. The work provides opportunities to learn about the environment, interact with interesting people and wildlife, and explore some of the most beautiful protected lands in the country. Here's some information to help you find these opportunities.

Research and Apply

When it comes to working with the National Park Service, you have options. First, the parks are all across the country, Maine to Alaska, and even off the contiguous 48, what with U.S. National Parks as far afield as Guam and Puerto Rico.

First, figure out if you are looking for full-time, part-time, seasonal, term (one to four years), or even volunteer work such as "workamping" where people work in exchange for a place to put their camper or in exchange for lodging. The National Park Service has approximately 16,000 permanent employees and hires up to 10,000 temporary positions annually. When you figure out how much time you can commit, you can narrow your search drastically.

The USA Jobs website will serve as your best resource in looking for a position, no matter if it's permanent full-time or seasonal. There you can narrow your search based on location, type of work, and actual occupation. Most jobs at national parks are available through the federal government or through park concessionaires, which are private companies that provide temporary workers to assist in the needs of visitors (e.g., food, lodging, gas, gifts, etc.).

Apply six months in advance. Summer jobs, even at concessionaires, may start accepting applications over the winter, and winter jobs will start posting during the summer. New competitive hires may also have to compete with seasonal rehires, but keep watching the job boards for additional openings or reopenings in case not enough résumés were fielded during the period that the position was accepting applications.

Government Positions

Government jobs are filled in accordance with Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations. Especially for the permanent positions, you may wish to review guidance on putting together a federal résumé, which is longer than a one- or two-page private-sector résumé; federal human resources departments want more detail on your skills and abilities. 

Permanent government jobs for the NPS aren't just park rangers and the like but also include functions such as accounting, maintenance, supervisors, information technology, and human resources personnel. But of course, they also can include jobs like forestry technicians, archaeologists, divers, mounted patrols, environmental protection specialists, and biologists.

Student Year-Round Internships & Summer Jobs

From high school students to graduate students, a variety of jobs and internships await the student position seeker, all over the country, from the Youth Conservation Corps to geoscientist and other science positions to archivists-in-training jobs.   

Concessionaire Positions

Without amenities, national parks would indeed be less popular. Private companies are contracted to parks to staff hotels, lodges, restaurants, and gift shops. They also may coordinate horseback riding or whitewater rafting excursions, or serve as tour guides, drivers, and other positions.

Visit CoolWorks and check out a list of jobs in national parks, preserves, monuments, and recreation/wilderness areas. It is one of the best tools out there to find work within a park.

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