5 Steps to Become a Park Ranger in Canada

Find out what you need to build a career as a park ranger in Canada!

Like it or not, an opportunity to don the signature smoker hat and look cool in front of little kids is not the only reason one would want to become a park ranger in Canada.

Unlike most people think, a park ranger career is one of repute and requires a level of literacy. In this article, we intend to outline everything you need to get into this line of work.

Who is a Park Ranger?

Simply put, a park ranger (or park warden, as it is popularly known in Canada), is an officer tasked with protecting, safeguarding, and conserving the natural resources in a park.

Furthermore, park rangers are tasked with keeping safe all those who come to visit the park, and making sure law and order are maintained. Think of them as lifeguards in pools and beaches. However, in this case, they protect both the visitors and the park itself.

Park Ranger Responsibilities

A park ranger’s job is ever-changing. Park rangers protect the forest and plant life in the park, the wildlife, and more. They keep visitors safe and law-abiding.

To be successful as a park ranger, one has to be passionate about protecting and preserving nature (or at least making money by doing so). These, therefore, are what their responsibilities are centred around. Let’s take a look at those, shall we?

A park ranger’s responsibilities include:

  • Protecting wildlife, plant life and other aspects of nature from humans and other natural occurrences. Essentially, they carry out environmental conservation in the park.
  • Park rangers enforce hygiene and safety laws in the park to prevent disasters.
  • They also educate people on fire safety laws, and help enforce them to prevent incidents.
  • They serve as tour guides, of sorts, in the park; showing people around and educating them on environment, local wildlife, the historical and cultural relevance of landmarks, etc.
  • In addition, they work in the visitor center of a park or site; thus, providing information to hikers, campers, etc.
  • They act as first responders in case of an emergency in their jurisdiction. If required, they can contact the local authorities. In the event of a missing person, park rangers organise search and rescue missions, applying their knowledge of the terrain to bring them back.
  • Administrative tasks such as taking logs, reporting incidents, recording visitor details, etc.
  • Finally, park rangers maintain the park’s indoor and outdoor quality by removing litter, clearing trails and protecting artifacts, etc.

Is it Good to Become a Park Ranger in Canada?

Now we have understood what a park ranger is and what responsibility you have when you become one, let us consider the park ranging career. Is it a good one? Is it beneficial? We will look at this under the benefits, Career Prospects and earnings.

Benefits of Being a Park Ranger in Canada

As was pointed out in the beginning, being a park ranger is a dream come true for many. Here below are some reasons one would want to become a park ranger in Canada;

Connect With Nature:

Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious reason one would want to chase a career in the park ranging, is an affinity for nature. If you love the outdoors, the greens, the animals, the natural picturesque, you should know that these will become a workplace sight for you if you become a park ranger.

You get to feel the best of all seasons; from fall to winter, and from spring to summer. As a park ranger, you get to be with nature till you experience and understand it better.

Preservation:

Being a park ranger automatically places you in a position of something bigger than yourself. You become a part of history; a part of those who preserve nature and educate others to do so as well. As a park ranger, you’re like a superhero for nature. You preserve nature and culture for generations yet unborn and get to save lives while doing so.

Variety of Opportunities:

Wherever nature is, you’re very likely to find a park ranger. From actual parks to natural reserves, zoos, educational nature centres, museums, etc. A park ranger can work in lots of places, and this gives those who ploy that path the opportunity to choose the kind of career they want.

Good Pay:

Contrary to what you may believe, park rangers in Canada actually earn a decent salary. Their job is a lot to handle, and they have ample opportunities, so employers try to give them a measurable reward. However, we’ll comment more on their earnings later.

Meet People:

Hundreds of people come to the park every day; to spend time with nature, relax, for camping, even for poaching (however illegal). Therefore, as a park ranger, you will get to meet lots of interesting people every day. You could gain connections, make new friends, get opportunities, etc. If you love connecting with people, you will not lack for people when you work as a park ranger in Canada.

Work Where You Live:

Talk about work from home. The next time you’re taking a hike or cycling through the park and see cabins in there. It might not be a visitor’s accommodation, but a ranger’s home. Sometimes, park rangers are offered accommodation within the park so that they can always be close in the case of an emergency.

This helps them connect better with the environment and know it better than, literally everyone else. While it might be a disadvantage in certain lights, it’s also very useful.

How Much Do Park Rangers Earn in Canada?

The average salary for park rangers in Canada is $56,355 per year. They earn up to $65,000 at the top of their game while starters could earn about $45,000 – $49,000. By and large, it is decent pay for living in Canada. It’s no six-figure salary, but it’s usually enough to get by.

Career Outlook When You Become a Park Ranger in Canada

Park rangers are usually employed by the federal, provincial or municipal government. They oversee operations in city parks, federal reserves, etc. British Colombia, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec are some of the best provinces in Canada to become a park ranger. They have some of the biggest reserves and parks.

The job is a competitive one, so you have to really stand out in the field to get the job you want.

How to Become a Park Ranger in Canada

We have talked about most of what there is to the park ranger career in Canada. Now, let us review 5 primary steps you need to take to become one.

#1. Education

Ah, yes! Surely, you didn’t think it was just another braws-over-brains job, did you? Most park ranger jobs require a bachelor degree or a high school diploma in any of the following; Forestry and Wildlife, Natural Resource Management, Outdoor recreation, safety and environment, etc. These courses will provide some basic knowledge needed to become a park ranger in Canada.

Top Schools in Canada to Study to Become a Park Ranger

Here are some schools that offer wildlife, management, and nature-related courses needed to be a park ranger.

  1. Vancouver Island University, British Colombia
  2. Lakehead University, Ontario
  3. Lethbridge College, Alberta
  4. University of Manitoba, Manitoba
  5. College of the North Atlantic, Newfoundland

#2. Get Certified

Certain provinces; such as Quebec, require that you be licensed under the provincial regulatory body before you become a park ranger. The regulatory body in Quebec is the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune.

Besides this, there are usually other certification requirements such as; Health and Safety, First aid, a class G driver’s license, etc. You’ll have to get most of these before you apply, however, you will still undergo some training on the job.

#3. Volunteer and Gain Experience

As it is with most jobs, the best way to learn is on the job. It is advisable that you volunteer for similar jobs to gain experience. Such jobs could include student ranger, Jr. Forest ranger, etc. British Colombia has an exceptional parks volunteer programme.

#4. Apply for a Job

After getting your certification and gaining a bit of experience, the only thing that’s left is for you to apply for a job. You can view job postings and check provincial and national parks near you to begin with. When you check a job posting, ensure you meet the requirements and highlight those requirements on your resume. Good luck with your application.

#5. On the Job Training

At this point, you’ve probably gotten your dream job. Congratulations! However, there are several other on-the-job training programmes you will need to undertake. You’ll need to learn how to read the maps, operate equipment, enter the logs, etc. During this time, you will be placed on probation whose length depends on your Chief Warden. After this is completed, you have become a full park ranger in Canada.

Requirements for Becoming a Park Ranger in Canada

Here are some basic requirements and training programmes; both on and off the job, for one who wants to become a park ranger in Canada.

  • Bachelor’s degree or high school diploma in a related field.
  • Leadership, crowd control, and communication skills.
  • Reading and writing.
  • Quick response/critical thinking.
  • Level head in times of emergency.
  • Class 5/Class G driver’s licence (ATV Certification will give you an edge).
  • First Aid and CPR certification
  • British Colombia requires that you take a 16-weeks course on BC Parks Law and Its Administration at BCIT
  • Marine certifications include SVOP, MED A3, and ROCM.
How to Become a Profiler in Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Park Rangers Federal Employees?

Park rangers can be employed by the Canadian government, the provincial or even municipal government. Therefore, it depends on where the employment comes from.

How hard is it to become a Park Ranger in Canada?

To be a park ranger in Canada, you will have to learn a lot about nature and wildlife, map reading, equipment operation, health and safety, etc. It is relatively difficult to master all of these, but every bit is worth the while.

Do Park Rangers carry guns?

Generally, it depends on the employer. The Parks Canada wardens/rangers carry guns due to the federal government’s decision to arm them and aid in their law enforcement duties. However, most provincial rangers do not carry guns around. They may have guns though, as first responders to emergencies, so they can use them when necessary.

Conclusion

Becoming a park ranger in Canada is one of those jobs whose satisfaction is more than just the yearly wage. Most people in this field have a passion for it, hence, it becomes its own reward. If you fall into this category, hopefully, we’ve helped you with the knowledge you need to begin your journey.