How to Become a Park Ranger in Illinois

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How to Become a Park Ranger in Illinois

A Park Ranger in Illinois oversees activities at parks and natural site facilities, and some positions involve enforcing laws.

You can train to become a Park Ranger in about two years.

Requirements to Become a Park Ranger in Illinois

Park Ranger requirements in Illinois depend on the type of position you’re applying for.

Usually, you have to attend school for about two to four years.

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However, some entry-level positions may require less schooling.

Review the Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Department of the Interior for more information.

Other requirements may apply, such as motor vehicle and watercraft licensing, firearms proficiency, and management experience.

Some positions in Illinois might also require a herbicide or pesticide license.

The recommended age of a Park Ranger is at least 21.

Of course, they would have to have graduated high school before taking on some preliminary park and recreation jobs.

You will need to train to protect and serve in a law enforcement capacity if you move on to the advanced Park Ranger position.

Educational Recommendations

Besides law enforcement, you may also want to take up environmental science.

Other possible study concentrations for Park Rangers include biology, history, environmental law and policy, or social and museum sciences.

Taking either business or public administration courses could also help you.

So would behavioral sciences, sociology, and other courses dealing with human relationships with the environment.

Park Ranger Duties in Illinois

Park Ranger duties in Illinois depend on the position.

Entry-level positions may require more manual labor outside, but upper-level positions may require leadership experience.

Entry- and Mid-Level Duties

Part of your job description involves maintaining order on state park grounds.

You may also guide the general public when they ask you questions as an entry-level Park Ranger.

For instance, you perhaps would work at an information booth or guide some tours.

In addition, you might have to help maintain the grounds and work outside in the rain, snow, sleet, and other less-than-ideal conditions.

Part of your job might also include lifting and carrying heavy loads.

Then, you might have to transport items to various other parts of the park.

In some cases, you might have to make some minor repairs to park equipment.

Other duties may include:

  • Picking up trash and cleaning the amenities
  • Guide seasonal staff
  • Inspect trails and boundaries
  • Perform water quality checks
  • Assist with fishing, archery, paddling, and other activities
  • Encourage participants in parks to engage in nature
  • Help enforce park rules and regulations
  • Assist people who have injuries

Experienced Park Ranger Duties

As an experienced Park Ranger, you may be responsible for part-time and full-time staff working under you.

You may also have the authority to give them various educational roles.

In addition, you’d perhaps assign your team tour guiding opportunities or oversea security personnel.

This list includes some of the duties advanced Park Rangers may handle on a given day: 

  • Plan and conduct educational programs
  • Invite visitors to participate in interactive learning about parks
  • Introduce historical and scientific information along with nature facts
  • Promote safety in Illinois parklands
  • Train seasonal workers and new staff
  • Collect fees and verify the existence of permits

State Parks in Illinois

Ferne Clyffe State Park

Ferne Clyffe State Park consists of 2,430 acres of land near Goreville, Illinois.

I-24 at Exit 7 provides limited access from the highway.

It features a waterfall, rock formations, hiking trails, and fishing.

Rock Cut State Park

Rock Cut State Park is near Rockford, Illinois.

It consists of 3,092 acres and has the main entrance about a mile west of I-90 on Highway 173.

It features Pierce Lake, and you can bike, kayak, boat, sail, or fish here.

Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks

You can access both Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks.

Starved Rock is the more popular of the two.

Starved Rock features sandstone canyons, waterfalls, and wooded trails.

It is also home to white-tailed deer and bald eagles.

Matthiessen features rock formations and has a picnic area.

It also has canyons, streams, and prairie land.


A report in September 2022 says that a Park Ranger’s average yearly income in Illinois is about $42,175.

Salaries may range from $34,862 and $51,031 depending on the number of certifications you earn.

Your educational level can also influence how much you earn.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Chicago $43,566
Rockford $40,442
Aurora $43,203
Peoria $39,666
Naperville $42,783
Springfield $37,903
Joliet $42,486
Elgin $42,826
Waukegan $41,113
Cicero $43,566

Regional Salary in Illinois

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Champaign-Urbana, IL50$72,400$34.81$129,360$37,420
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI340$68,880$33.11$105,520$39,300
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Conservation Scientists, OCC Code 19-1031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Illinois Park Ranger training take?

The length of training varies.

Some entry-level positions may only require about 24 classroom hours of courses.

Your training should also include some hands-on experience working in a park and recreation department.

Advanced positions could require you to take up to several years of classes.

For instance, a Park Ranger who wants to become a part of the Law Enforcement team will require about 650 hours of courses.

What should a Park Ranger know about working in a park?

They will have to study local, state, and national laws.

This includes local laws about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and general park usage regulations.

However, they also will need to know where people can and cannot cut down trees.

In addition, they also must have knowledge of what plants people can harvest and what flowers or foliage to pick or not pick.

What laws does a Park Ranger enforce?

They generally enforce park rules, such as how long a recreational site is open.

They also handle cases involving prohibited substances present on site (illegal street drugs).

Rangers also might address signs of vandalism and trespassing of visitors staying after hours.

In addition, they handle safety issues, such as telling people where they can and cannot camp, have fires, fish, swim, etc.

Can Illinois Park Rangers arrest people? 

According to FindLaw, Park Rangers have the right to act like local police.

They usually exercise this authority on park property though.

They have a higher level of authority than a security guard usually does, but a security guard could also detain a person until local police arrive.

Is an Illinois Park Ranger a cop? 

Upper-level Park Rangers act like law enforcement within the confines of park boundaries.

They would enforce rules and protect the grounds and take action to correct situations when necessary.

They may have to at some point contact the local police for assistance in extreme situations.

USA Park Ranger by State

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