Becoming a Park Ranger with a Criminal Justice Degree

park-ranger-criminal-justiceAre you interested in working as a Park Ranger with a Criminal Justice Degree?

There is a viable academic path that can be taken prior to working as a Park Ranger. If interested in working as a Park Ranger, one may first seek a college degree in Criminal Justice. A Criminal Justice degree will inform a student with a well-rounded education that benefits the future park ranger for many of the following types of tasks:

Park Ranger Peace Officer

Park Rangers working as fully sworn peace officers are required to perform the basic responsibilities of a general park ranger; additionally, these park professionals are specially trained and certified to conduct a variety of law enforcement activities.

Park rangers who serve as peace officers may be called upon to perform any of the following tasks:

    • Public education and interpretation
      • Community outreach programs and activities
      • Interpretive programs
      • Junior ranger programs
    • Public safety
      • Law enforcement services
      • Medical aid/emergency medical response activities
      • Operating and maintaining emergency medical equipment
    • Visitor assistance
      • Making sure that all visitors understand and abide by park rules and regulations
      • Providing general park information
    • Park resource protection and management

Law Enforcement Rangers

Law enforcement rangers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers given the authority to conduct such tasks as making arrests, carrying out investigations, and utilizing a sidearm when necessary. Law enforcement Park Rangers ensure that the park is safe and secure at all times. Park rangers sometimes perform emergency services, and they frequently patrol the parks to ensure a safe and secure environment for the park’s visitors at all times.

The following are just some of the important responsibilities of law enforcement rangers:

  • Performing emergency management activities, including search and rescue, wild land fire, and emergency medical services
  • Determining and investigating criminal activity
  • Apprehending criminal suspects

At varying times, law enforcement rangers will patrol on foot, bicycle, snowmobile, ATV, boat, and horseback. Law enforcement rangers sometimes work within special missions teams; examples would include search and rescue, K-9, wildfire suppression, and scuba diving teams.

New law enforcement rangers are usually required to complete a basic police academy in order to become fully commissioned law enforcement officers with appropriate firearms certification.

Criminal Justice Bachelor’s degree topics can include the following areas:

  • Criminal justice systems and processes
  • Criminal justice data analysis
  • Ethics in the criminal justice system
  • Theories of criminal behavior
  • Methods of criminal justice research
  • Leadership and management in criminal justice

A Criminal Justice degree program can provide the student with an comprehensive educational background in law enforcement, corrections, and the judicial system in a way that can greatly benefit the student when later working in the field as a Park Ranger.