How to Become a Park Ranger in Tennessee

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How to Become a Park Ranger in Tennessee

Being a park ranger is a dream job for many people – especially those who love being outdoors.

Though it is a great career, it’s not one that just anyone can enter into.

Tennessee aims to provide the best protection possible for its parks, so requirements are a bit beyond the average entry-level position.

This guide will walk you through those requirements.

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Requirements to Become a Park Ranger in Tennessee

Becoming a park ranger in Tennessee can be a very rewarding experience, but it does take several steps.

In addition to an interview, be prepared to meet the following criteria:


Tennessee parks require applicants to be at least 21 years old.


You must be a United States citizen to be a Tennessee park ranger.

No Criminal History

You’ll need to have a clean background.

To verify this, you will be required to:

  • Give consent for your background to be checked
  • Provide fingerprints
  • Be free from felony convictions
  • The former military must have a clear discharge – meaning no dishonorable or other-than-honorable discharges

Be Physically and Mentally Well and Morally Upright

You’ll also need to pass both a physical and psychological examination by licensed professionals.

During the examinations and investigation into your background, the hiring authorities will determine if you are of good moral character.

Willing and Able to Handle Weapons and Motor Vehicles

You must be licensed to operate motor vehicles.

Additionally, you must be clear to carry any necessary weapons and be able to qualify to use them properly.

Possess a College Education

Tennessee park rangers are required to complete a Bachelor’s Degree.

This can technically be a degree in any major, so if you’ve already completed a degree, you should be good to go.

If you haven’t yet completed college, you might want to consider a more specialized major – especially if you’re hoping to apply for a higher position like Chief Park Ranger.

Some good options include:

  • Wildlife & fisheries
  • Archaeology
  • Natural resource management
  • Parks and recreation
  • Forestry
  • Geology
  • Anthropology
  • Criminal justice
  • Biology

And keep in mind that the park you hope to work at may favor some degrees over others.

For example, if the park is more geared toward preserving history, a history degree would be a good move.

Additionally, even parks need accountants, marketing specialists, and business managers.

Possessing a degree or minoring in one of these can make you a more desirable candidate.

Obtain Proper Training

If your application is hired and you are offered a position, you’ll have to attend training courses.

These are offered through the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy and cover the following and more:

  • Training with weapons you’ll need for your position
  • Defensive driving
  • Self-defense
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Report writing

Park Ranger Duties in Tennessee

At the core, a park ranger is responsible for protecting and caring for the park, its wildlife, its visitors, its ecosystems, and any resources in the park.

The exact duties can vary depending on the park but often include some or all of the following:

  • Monitor the use of the park
  • Manage permits for visitors
  • Educate visitors, specifically on rules, regulations, available resources, and the history of the park
  • Provide emergency medical assistance and rescue operations
  • Enforcing rules, making arrests, and issuing warnings or citations
  • Help control any wildfire incidents
  • Help design lectures on wildlife in the park

State Parks in Tennessee

There are more than 50 state parks in Tennessee that you can apply to work in.

The following are just some great ones to consider.

Big Cypress Tree State Park

Big Cypress Tree State Park covers more than 330 acres of Greenfield, Tennessee.

It’s a great family spot and is often used by boy scout troops, churches, and reunion coordinators.

It’s full of cabins, camping spots, and history to enjoy.

Cummins Falls State Park

Cummins Falls State Park is a sight to behold.

It’s 211 acres of natural beauty and a 75-foot waterfall.

It’s a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and simply enjoying a relaxing day in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Big Ridge State Park

Located in Maynardville, Tennessee, Big Ridge State Park covers nearly 4,000 acres and has nearly 20 cabins.

Families and couples love to get away to the park to enjoy the scenery, fishing, swimming, and time off the grid.


In addition to the rewarding experience of protecting the park, you can make a decent wage as a park ranger in Tennessee.

Most Tennessee park rangers make between $30,840 and $45,143, with the average landing at around $37,308.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Memphis $38,056
Nashville-Davidson $38,164
Knoxville $37,678
Chattanooga $37,025
Clarksville $37,301
Murfreesboro $37,877
Jackson $37,768
Johnson City $35,741
Kingsport $35,875
Franklin $38,030

Regional Salary in Tennessee

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN40$72,690$34.95$100,530$49,210
* 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 many employees do Tennessee parks usually have?

It depends on the exact park – some have a couple of hundred, while others have several hundred.

With several dozen parks across the state, this leaves thousands of positions in all.

Where do I apply to be a Tennessee park ranger?

There are various ways to locate positions and apply.

You can go straight through the Tennessee Parks and Recreation Department, on, or view openings on job boards like Indeed.

You can also visit the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services websites.

Are the Great Smoky Mountains considered a Tennessee state park?

The Great Smoky Mountains are located between Tennessee and North Carolina, so it’s considered a national park.

Therefore, it’s typically managed by federal park rangers.

How physically demanding is the job of a park ranger?

This can vary from day to day, but you can expect to do a great deal of walking and hiking.

Keeping in – at the very least – moderate shape is important.

What does a park ranger shift in Tennessee look like?

Being a park ranger is like many other jobs – the hours can vary.

You might be able to work your way into a set shift, but don’t be surprised to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Mandatory overtime and being on call is also common occurrence.

USA Park Ranger by State

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