How Much Does it Cost to Become a Park Ranger?

Anyone who loves camping and fishing should consider a job as a park ranger.

Envision working at a national park where bears and moose roam in nature’s paradise.

A woman park ranger

Picture yourself putting out campfires and teaching kids to shoot a bow and arrow.

You can even work close to home as a park ranger for local or county parks.

Park rangers can quickly complete school and training in less than six months and for under $4,000.

Learn more about how much it costs to become a park ranger as you consider this career.

How Much is Park Ranger Training and School?

You can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for park ranger training and school.

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While the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy costs approximately $3,000, other training might be necessary.

For example, you may pursue a level II law enforcement commission.

This will increase your job prospects and make you a more desirable candidate as a park ranger.

You do not need to spend additional money on credentialing, which makes park ranger training more affordable.

What is Park Ranger Training School?

There is one main route for school if you want to train as a park ranger.

The National Park Service hosts the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy (PRLEA).

This training program is for US national, state, and local park rangers.

Students must have at least 33 credit hours in class and 484 clock hours of training, plus pass a physical exam.

There are several campus locations for PRLEA training.

Nationwide locations for park ranger training programs include:

  • Northern Arizona University
  • Southwestern Community College
  • Colorado Northwestern Community College
  • Skagit Valley College
  • Temple University
  • Minnesota North College Vermilion

This course is a five-month-long program to train National Park Service Park Rangers.

You can use this program training if you want to train as a state park ranger.

The PRLEA training is suitable for park rangers working for the local and county, as well as for state and national park rangers.

How Much is Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy Tuition?

The credit courses for the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy training program are $118 per credit hour on average.

For comparison, the Washington PRLEA program at Skagit Valley College costs $1,600 per quarter and $1,750 in other fees.

The total training is five months, which equates to two quarters, as one quarter is three months.

The entire cost for training as a park ranger is approximately $3,000 in tuition and school fees.

You will also need to cover living expenses while you go to school to become a park ranger.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Full Salary as a Park Ranger?

Typically, when you graduate from the PRLEA training program and become a law enforcement park ranger, you are entry-level.

As a result, you will start at local park systems or with the county park systems.

You must earn level II law enforcement commissioning to advance your job opportunities.

However, when first hired as a park ranger, you will most likely be given a seasonal shift, either summer or spring.

To be eligible for park ranger employment full-time, you will need to work as a seasonal park ranger for a few years.

This will get your foot in the door and give you the experience necessary for working as a park ranger in a more official capacity.

You can also work as a state park ranger with training from the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy.

What is a Salary for a Park Ranger?

The average salary for a park ranger in the US ranges quite greatly.

You can make anywhere from $32,000 to $142,000 as a US park ranger.

This is based on the General Schedule (GS) for general and interpretive park rangers.

To earn more, work for higher paying parks.

What is the Price of Park Ranger Certification and Licensing?

Certification is not required in the park ranger job sector.

You are not required to be licensed as a park ranger to seek employment.

However, if you graduate from a program like the PRLEA for the NPS, you can earn a certificate as a park ranger.

This is considered the price of tuition.

You do not have to pay additional fees to sit for a board examination to be a park ranger.

There are not any park ranger certification exams available to take.

Is Becoming a Park Ranger Worth It?

You should consider becoming a park ranger if you love nature and enjoy working independently outdoors with wild animals and campers.

You get to be right where the action is at national or state parks, and jobs are often available at the local and county levels.

Your skills and training are in law enforcement, which is a valuable asset.

And you can earn a good salary as a park ranger, especially with experience and a willingness to work in bigger and busier parks.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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