Forest Ranger

Forest rangers are law enforcement professionals whose primary responsibilities include enforcing current laws concerning forest and rangeland preservation. A forest ranger works in parks and conservation areas watching over the plants, trees and animals. They may oversee the development of portions of the land, camping sites or historical spots. Forest rangers often assist in cases of natural disasters, particularly forest fires.

These outdoor professionals most commonly work for local, state and federal government agencies. Some forest rangers are employed privately by lumber corporations, maintaining a balance between conservation and usage of forested land.

Sixteen states require that forest rangers earn credentials. The types of credentials vary including licensing, registration or a combination of both. In some states, a few years of experience are required, while other states also expect rangers to pass a written exam.

Forest Ranger Job Description

Forest rangers work with various aspects of natural land management including economic, recreational, preservation and environmental components. They may specialize in a specific area of study such as soil conservation, forests in metropolitan areas or specific plant or animal species. Forest rangers manage the development and usage of natural resources.

This professional may plan ways to improve and regenerate forest lands; perform research related to forest issues; protect animals and plants from fire or insect infestations; or oversee areas that provide recreation but protect natural habitats. Forest rangers enforce environmental laws and often teach conservation education.

A forest ranger may have any or all of the following responsibilities:

  • Oversee the management of natural lands in a variety of habitats.
  • Examine and direct the economics related to specific forestry projects.
  • Develop and teach programs related to conservation of natural habitats.
  • Respond to emergency situations within the forest or park.
  • Enforce environmental laws and rules related to forest management.
  • Maintain and care for the wildlife, trees and plants of the forest.
  • Assist with natural disasters, such as forest fires.
  • Research relevant topics related to forest management and conservation.

Although some forest rangers, particularly those who teach and research, spend some time inside, most spend the majority of their days on the land they manage. This job requires a physically fit person who is willing to work a flexible schedule. Many forest rangers work continuously for several days and then have a few days off.

Forest Ranger Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade compared to other professions. At a growth rate of 12%, most of the new jobs in this field will be found within government agencies. Conservation programs continue to grow demanding more forest rangers to oversee land preservation.

The U.S. Labor Department notes that forest rangers working in the federal government, as of 2009, earned an average annual salary of over $71,000. Forest rangers not employed by the federal government made an average annual salary around $54,000.

About 60% of forest rangers work for state or federal government. The remaining forest rangers are employed by private industries or are self-employed as consultants.

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