Forest rangers are state or federal law enforcement officers who manage parks, historical areas and other natural resources and points of interest. Forest rangers protect and promote the sites, combat natural disasters such as wild fires, perform search and rescue operations and many other duties to keep the parks clean and safe for visitors and wildlife.
Forest rangers, also known as foresters, need a bachelor's degree in forestry, biology or a related major before being considered for most positions. If the forester wants to work in a research position, further education is needed at a PhD level, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Approximately 50 accredited colleges in the United States offer a bachelor's degree in forestry. The forest range's state may offer a professional license, obtainable following the completion of a degree program plus several years of hands-on experience in the field.
Forest rangers' primary purpose is to preserve the parks and forests they oversee, while keeping visitors safe from natural dangers. Forest rangers fight fires and go on search and rescue missions, but also have a hand in educating visitors about the parks they work in and the natural resources surrounding them. Forest rangers may do research in the parks, observing animals in their natural environments, taking samples of soil and water, or conducting studies.
The federal government employs many forest rangers in several natural resource departments, such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Foresters may also find work with state governments, such as the state's Department of Natural Resources or the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The BLS reports that forest rangers average a $53,750 annual salary as of 2008. If the forester works in a federal government department, the average salary is $71,558. The majority of forest ranger jobs are located in the west and southeast areas of the country, due to the amount of park land located here. Forestry job growth over the next 10 years is expected to rise 12 percent, which is comparable to the national average of growth of all other occupations.
2016 Salary Information for Conservation Scientists and Foresters
Conservation scientists and foresters earned a median annual salary of $60,700 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, conservation scientists and foresters earned a 25th percentile salary of $47,160, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $75,620, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 34,600 people were employed in the U.S. as conservation scientists and foresters.