How to Become a Park Ranger in Washington

Earn your accredited, affordable Wildlife Forestry and Conservation career diploma online with Penn Foster in as little as 4 months!

See more details >>Sponsored

How to Become a Park Ranger in Washington

Washington State parks are some of the most diverse environments in the U.S., ranging from high desert regions and an active volcano to jagged mountains and rain forests.

Recently, Washington’s park rangers have managed various demanding situations ranging from tsunami debris across the ocean, due to the catastrophic earthquake in Northern Japan, to volcanic eruptions and violent acts against the badge.

As a result, the government has beefed staff up to 500 permanent park rangers and 350 seasonal employees to make the experience for visitors much more rewarding.

Keep reading if you are interested in joining the force to help visitors and protect the local environment!

Featured Program

Earn your accredited, affordable Wildlife Forestry and Conservation career diploma online with Penn Foster in as little as 4 months!

Request Information

Popular Programs

Requirements to Become a Park Ranger in Washington

Two park ranger levels exist in the Washington state system – level one, which is more basic law enforcement, and level two, which is more advanced law enforcement.

Level one requires two years of college or a high school diploma with two years of military service.

Level two requires one year of ranger experience, two years of college, or a high school degree with two years in the military.

However, most level two rangers hold a bachelor’s degree to make them more knowledgeable and competitive.

Once the educational aspects are met for either level, candidates must apply, pass a background check, have a good personal history, hold a valid driver’s license, and be able to pass a psychological and medical evaluation.

Once accepted into the position, rangers must complete a 720-hour program within the first 12 months of employment.

Park Ranger Duties in Washington

Given the number of events that occur, Washington park ranger duties are extensive, including:

  • Assisting visitors with basic medical attention
  • Basic or advanced law enforcement duties
  • Crowd control
  • Directing traffic
  • Education and tours of school groups and visitors
  • Environmental conservation
  • Evacuation plans and directions to visitors
  • Firefighting
  • Maintenance of park facilities
  • Recording wildlife and plants
  • Rescuing stranded hikers

State Parks in Washington

Washington is home to several incredible state parks, including:

Cape Disappointment State Park

Despite the off-putting name, Cape Disappointment State Park is one of the most popular in Washington because of the number of activities visitors can enjoy.

These include extensive lakes, ocean beaches, 137 campsites, two lighthouses, 1,882 acres of natural wilderness and hiking, Pacific Ocean and Columbia River fishing and boating, the Lweis and Clark Interpretive Center, yurts, cabins, and RV hookup sites.

Visitors are drawn to the park to experience nature at its finest while enjoying the top-notch facilities.

Rangers at this location do everything from enforcing local littering laws to complicated rescues.

Deception Pass State Park

Nothing is deceiving about the beauty of Deception Pass State Park!

The first Europeans landed on Whidbey Island using an old Aztec map in 1792.

These explorers came across locals living in the area for over one thousand years.

Today, this area is now a park that boasts over 100,000 feet of coastline and more than 4,000 acres of water recreation, hiking, and camping.

Rangers at this site explain the local history, rescue boaters, and hikers, and protect the local environment, despite this being Washington’s most visited park.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation

As one of the most impressive construction activities in 1942, the Grand Coulee dam was completed to produce clean electricity.

This construction project created the impressive 130-mile-long lake, named after the commissioner, President Franklin Roosevelt.

The expanse of this area is now one of Washington’s most popular parks due to the hiking, camping, fishing, and boating opportunities.

Park rangers contribute by ensuring the area remains as scenic as possible while keeping visitors safe.

Also, dedicated rangers conduct canoe tours of this treasure while providing interesting history to those enjoying nature!

Mount Rainier National Park

As one of the best-known and second-most visited parks in Washington, Mount Rainier is the fifth oldest in the U.S.

With over one million visitors each year, Mountain Rainier National park boasts 370 square miles of amazing hiking and diverse wildlife.

In addition, the park boasts over 25 glaciers, which is a major selling point to tourists.

Other activities include horseback riding, biking, jogging, water sports, snow sports, and mountain climbing.


The U.S. national salary average for a park ranger is $41,000, ranging from $34,000 to just under $50,000.

In Washington State, the median income is a little over $60,000 per year, ranging from $35,000 to $87,000.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Seattle $44,901
Spokane $39,588
Tacoma $43,547
Vancouver $42,525
Bellevue $44,901
Everett $43,941
Federal Way $43,457
Kent $43,459
Yakima $40,646
Bellingham $41,928

Regional Salary in Washington

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Olympia-Tumwater, WA220$75,950$36.51$88,630$59,680
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA260$89,390$42.97$123,800$65,280
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA50$72,790$35$91,260$61,210
* 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

What are the best educational programs to become a Washington park ranger?

For those looking to enhance their knowledge and be a more competitive park ranger candidate, earning a degree in natural science, natural resources management, forest management, forestry, and parks and recreation are an excellent idea.

How do Washington park rangers inform the community?

The best rangers manage, value, understand, recognizes, and protects natural resources, which helps them better speak to the park, its history, and its future.

What kind of maintenance does a Washington park ranger manage?

Basic facilities and grounds maintenance are required, including trail and roads, repair of park structures, groundskeeping, and clean-up work.

What is the difference between levels one and two?

Park ranger level one assists investigations, protects park property, directs traffic, prepares reports, may not carry a firearm and writes citations.

Park range level two leads investigations, carries a firearm, marks arrests, files charge, conducts crowd control, and performs surveillance.

How many levels exist in the park ranger system?

Park rangers are overseen by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, which employs two levels.

Both classes are accountable for supervision, resource stewardship, administrative functions, maintenance, public administration, law enforcement, and interpretation, but the law enforcement activities differ.

USA Park Ranger by State

Leave a Comment


Earn your accredited, affordable Wildlife Forestry and Conservation career diploma online with Penn Foster in as little as 4 months!

See more details >>Sponsored