SOC Code: 33-9092

Pay Band(s): 3 and 4 (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Monitor recreational areas, such as pools, beaches, or ski slopes to provide assistance and protection to participants. *

*The recreational areas monitored for the Commonwealth are state parks.

Park Ranger positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Natural Resources Career Group:

Natural Resource Specialist II

Natural Resource Specialist III

While Park Rangers within the Commonwealth are all located within the Natural Resources Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Law Enforcement

Building Trades

Environmental Services

Public Safety Compliance

Training and Instruction


(Technical and Functional Expertise)


Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Park Rangers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Teaching others how to do something.
  2. Actively looking for ways to help people.
  3. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  4. Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  5. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  6.  Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  7. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  8. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem solving and decision-making.
  9. Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  10. Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.


Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Park Rangers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  2. Information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  3. Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  4. Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  5. Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Park Rangers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  2. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  3. Exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
  4. See details at a distance.
  5. Coordinate the movement of your arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion.
  6. Speak clearly so others can understand you.
  7. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, and mathematical operations).
  8. See under low light conditions.
  9. Use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
  10. Exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.


Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Park Rangers.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 


  1. Maintain buildings by performing painting, plumbing, carpentry and other maintenance activities.
  2. Operate and maintain equipment such as tractors, loaders and mowers.
  3. Enforce park rules and regulations and promotes good public relations.
  4. Contact emergency medical personnel in case of serious injury.
  5. Examine injured persons, and administer first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation if necessary, utilizing training and medical supplies and equipment.
  6. Observe activities in assigned areas, using binoculars in order to detect hazards, disturbances, or safety infractions.
  7. Patrol or monitor recreational areas such as trails, slopes, and swimming areas, on foot, in vehicles, or from towers.
  8. Rescue distressed persons, using rescue techniques and equipment.
  9. Warn recreational participants of inclement weather, unsafe areas, or illegal conduct.
  10. Inspect recreational equipment, such as rope tows, T-bars, J-bars, and chair lifts, for safety hazards and damage or wear.
  11. Inspect recreational facilities for cleanliness.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Park Ranger has Realistic and Social characteristics as described below:

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


The Park Ranger is expected to have or obtain certification in CPR and First Aid. The Park Ranger is also expected to have a valid Virginia driver's license.  The Park Ranger may also be required to obtain a Water Operator Class 4 certification.

With the exception of sworn law enforcement personnel, the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) certification and licensure is not generally required of park ranger positions in state government. 

However, to improve career opportunities, certification from the Department of Criminal Justice Services would be beneficial.

DCJS Certification is a requirement of all sworn officers.  A DCJS form 21 is filed with the Department of Criminal Justice Services for all sworn officers certifying that minimum training requirements are met.  This agency certifies all law enforcement training academies, all instructors, and all sworn law enforcement officers in their ability to carry and use firearms, drive high speed police vehicles, use radar, and perform certain first aid and other duties.  This certification is maintained and renewable through the DCJS.

More information may be obtained at DCJS's web site:

Park rangers may also be required to reside in staff housing in the park.


Park Rangers perform a variety of tasks to operate and maintain park facilities. These tasks include ground keeping, small engine repair, equipment inventory and maintenance activities such as painting, plumbing and carpentry.

The Park Rangers in the Commonwealth of Virginia play a vital role in maintaining and protecting the Commonwealth's parks and visitors. The Park Rangers typically have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Rigorous hiring and screening programs consisting of background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks are becoming the norm in the occupation. Background criminal history check is required. Applicants are expected to have good references, no serious police record, and good health. Park Rangers should be mentally alert, emotionally stable, and physically fit in order to cope with emergencies. Park Rangers have frequent contact with the public and should communicate well.

 Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from carrying a firearm.

Park Rangers spend much of their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and isolated areas. Park Rangers are also expected to work shifts to include weekends and holidays.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation's web site has more information on the state's parks and on career opportunities:

The State Council of Higher Education lists three Virginia educational institutions offering programs in parks, recreation and leisure facilities management: Northern Virginia Community College, Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College.


Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Park Ranger







Natural Resource Specialist II



Natural Resource Manager I


Natural Resource Specialist III



Natural Resource Manager II



Natural Resource Manager III

Sample Career Path

Natural Resource Specialist II

The Natural Resource Specialist II role provides a career track for park rangers involved in a variety of skilled, technical or compliance functions in conservation, forestry, parks, wildlife projects, or program development that provide support and require some independence of action. Employees perform work that range from entry-level technician to Chief Park ranger with supervisory responsibilities.

Natural Resource Specialist III

The Natural Resource Specialist III role provides career tracks for assistant park superintendents that provide senior technical support or serve as professional specialists or supervisors in resource management protection, customer relations and education, recreation, and/or research projects and programs.

Natural Resource Manager I

The Natural Resource Manager I role provides career tracks for managers of staff in a natural resource facility or geographic area for which they have program management responsibility. Employees typically perform related program administrative functions such as hiring and training staff, preparing and monitoring budgets, overseeing procurement, collecting revenues, and/or inspecting or overseeing small capital outlay projects. Employees typically manage fish hatcheries, state parks of small to moderate program complexity, a forestry center, a group of wildlife management areas, or a natural resource district.

Natural Resource Manager II

The Natural Resource Manager II role provides career tracks for managers of regional or statewide forest management and protection operations or programs requiring subject area expertise and managerial competencies, a major state park operation with multiple programs and services, or statewide park districts. May manage enforcement of resource protection policies, regulations and laws. Some employees are responsible for programs with multiple components, managed through subordinate supervisors.

Natural Resource Manager III

The Natural Resource Manager III role provides career tracks for managers who serve as directors or assistant directors for a major natural resource division comprised of multiple programs. Employees typically manage on a statewide basis in forestry, marine resource, natural heritage, state parks, or watershed management.


O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network

National Recreation and Park Association

Park Law Enforcement Association