How to Become a Park Ranger in Montana

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How to Become a Park Ranger in Montana

Montana is called Big Sky Country because of its vast open areas of land.

The state has 94 million acres, and a third of that is public land, which includes 55 state parks and 11 national parks.

Montana is the fourth-largest state and the third-most sparsely populated state.

A lot of park rangers are needed to take care of all this land.

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Requirements to Become a Park Ranger in Montana

To be a park ranger in Montana, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college.

One or two years of experience in the area you are applying for is also required.

The experience requirement can be met partially by college credits.

To fully meet the experience requirement, you can complete the National Park Association’s 300-hour law enforcement program.

Having some knowledge of the area you want to work in is expected, as well as park management principles.

You must also be willing to work in very cold and very hot temperatures.

Park Ranger Duties in Montana

A park ranger in Montana is part law enforcement officer and part park manager.

Duties include resource management, maintenance, and patrolling fusing and hunting spots for rule and fee compliance.

Maintaining the park and trails is also part of the job.

Park rangers also provide visitor information and conduct instructional programs for the public.

Some park rangers spend months hiking trails to make sure the trails are in good shape, and to help hikers.

State Parks in Montana

Bannack State Park is a preserved ghost town that was founded because of a gold rush in 1863 in southwest Montana.

It is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the nation.

It became a state park in 1952.

The park includes an area around the ghost town, which has two campgrounds, trails, and small creeks.

You may pan for gold, hike, and skate in winter.

Park Rangers lead tours of the town, but you may explore it on your own.

The park has 60 buildings or structures from the 1860s.

The town was the first territorial capital and has a governor’s mansion to tour.

Buffalo Jump State Park is the sight of a historic buffalo jump near Great Falls.

Before there were horses in Montana, Native Americans would stampede buffalo over a cliff, causing them to fall to their death.

They would then harvest the buffalo, which they used for many purposes.

Park Rangers here must have a knowledge of Native American culture, history, and archaeology.

This is one of the largest, oldest, and most used buffalo jumps in America.

Park Rangers lead hikes to the cliffs where there are pictographs and petroglyphs.

There is an adjacent picnic area and a prairie dog town.

Glacier National Park has about a million acres of some of the most scenic areas in America.

The park employs several rangers to help keep up with it all.

There are 25 glaciers, 500 lakes, and 200 waterfalls.

This is in addition to many miles of trails.

The Road to the Sun is a famous road that goes through the middle of the park, and it can get very crowded.

Seeing the countryside, whether by car or hiking, is a major attraction.

There are also camping facilities, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

A unique group of buses gives tours of the park as well.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, near Bozeman, is one of the largest limestone caves in the northwest.

The park includes 50 miles of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail.

There are other trails in the area for hiking and mountain biking.

The caverns remain the main attraction, and you may take a tour led by a park ranger.

There are campsites with full hookups, as well as all the normal facilities you would expect at a state park.

Park rangers here have a lot of different duties and must have a solid knowledge of Montana’s history and natural resources.


Park Rangers in Montana make between $30,777 and $45,000 yearly.

The average is around $37,000.

Pay varies by experience level and expertise in various fields.

Montana is below the national average of $41,000.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Billings $39,328
Missoula $33,941
Great Falls $35,604
Butte-Silver Bow $33,941
Bozeman $33,941
Helena $34,557
Kalispell $36,063
Havre $34,988
Anaconda-Deer Lodge County $33,941
Miles City $38,714

Regional Salary in Montana

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Missoula, MT140$59,730$28.72$97,880$29,050
* 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

Are there any licensing requirements for park rangers?

Other than having some experience, there is no licensing requirement for park rangers.

Once hired, they are considered permanent employees.

How can you get experience?

Working part-time, or during the summer as seasonal labor, can give you the required experience.

Your college education can count as part of the requirement.

The state law enforcement program can also fulfill the experience requirement.

Is a degree in law enforcement required?

No, experience is preferred.

You do need a degree from a four-year program, however, and that can be in any subject related to the outdoors.

There is also a law enforcement training program that will prepare you for that aspect, but it is not required.

Where does law enforcement enter the picture for a ranger?

There are fish and wildlife officers who make sure hunters and fishermen follow the rules.

They also enforce other rules in parks and can make arrests just as a regular police officer can.

They also provide security at some of the parks.

What is the most outdoors job you can get as a ranger?

There are park rangers who hike trails, sometimes for days, into the backcountry.

They inspect the trails, make minor repairs, and note where major repairs are made.

You could be alone in the wilderness for many days.

USA Park Ranger by State

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