3 Tips for Applying for a National Parks Job

– National Park Service

From the east coast to out west, urban to remote, short term positions and volunteer service, to a lifetime career, the National Park Service has opportunities for a variety of different interests.

As we welcome the next century of the National Park Service and look toward the future of our national parks, it’s an exciting time to learn more about the ways you can work at America’s treasured natural, cultural, and historical sites. Beyond that, the people you’ll meet on the job combined with the developmental experiences you’ll gain will last you a lifetime. Check out the video below to get a glimpse into the incredible people that make up the National Park Service.

As with any job, the application process can be daunting. We’re here to share with you some quick tips to help you on your journey to your finding your next adventure.

1: See What’s Out There

Park Ranger looking at a bug box with kids in the forest
National Park Service

Like most federal agencies, the National Park Service recruits and fills positions through the government site, USAJobs. Start by inputting “National Park Service” in the keyword box and let the hunt begin. If you’re looking for a particular type of work, you can add another keyword after a comma. For example, “National Park Service, Public Affairs” or “National Park Service, Accountant” (note: don’t use quotation marks in the keyword box). You can also input locations. Whether you’re applying for your first government job or thinking about a new adventure, it’s exciting to look at the options.

Another great resource is the Jobs for Students page on the National Park Service website. There you’ll find information about the thousands of opportunities for high school, college, and graduate school students.

2: Do Some Research

The National Park Service hires permanent positions, term positions (one to four years), and temporary positions (usually seasonal positions) with a variety of work schedules.

Permanent positions will enable you to obtain federal status, making it easier to apply for subsequent positions. Term and temporary positions can be a great way to get exposure to the organization and its mission and strengthen your resume. When term and temporary positions end, employees will have to apply once again through USAJobs. 

You can find out more about each position by looking at the federal series and grade code. You’ll likely see a lot of General Schedule (GS) or Wage Grade (WG) positions. (GS and WG are examples of the federal series and grade code, which the government uses to help standardize positions and set pay consistently across its agencies.) You can research the wide range of options at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website and you may want to bookmark the Frequently Asked Questions page. While you may not become a human resources specialist overnight, you’ll certainly learn a lot more about the jobs available across the federal government.

3: Ramp Up Your Resume

If you’re in the private or nonprofit sector, you’ve probably heard your entire career that you should limit your resume to one page. Well, it’s time to switch things up! Do some research on how to write a federal resume and take the time to expand that one-pager into multiple pages with specific, detailed information on your work and educational experience. Pay attention to the qualifications section for each position, especially the specialized experience and selective placement factors. You’ll need to meet the experience and placement factors to be considered and you’ll want to reference the exact language listed in the position description in your resume. Here is a guide that has some helpful tips.

In your resume, be sure to point out evidence that you have the specific specialized experience that is required for the position. The National Park Service does not use a software program to assess its applicants, but rather has federally-trained human resource specialists review the applications. You must clearly demonstrate your background, skills, and abilities to be considered. It’s also critical to be clear about the number of months and years you’ve worked in a position or had certain duties. For educational credit, be sure to submit your most recent transcript with your application.

After you’ve pulled together a federal resume, share it with a friend or colleague for their review and be prepared for more editing. Constructive criticism is something to be grateful for.

When you feel that your application materials are in a good place, be sure to submit them by the deadline indicated. Good luck!

Last updated December 19, 2016.


I am a 43 year old lady and looking for full a time career with the National Park Service. I have 60 credits at Florida Southwestern State College in general studies and was an honor student. I love nature and am in excellent physical condition and willing to relocate anywhere in the Unites States. My birth country was Colombia and I became a naturalized US Citizen about 8 years ago. I speak English and Spanish. I have submitted an application but have had telephone responses from people offering schooling but not from the National Park Service. Can you help me with obtaining a position with the National Park Service? I have a nursing background but have not worked in this field since I was 30 years old. Thank You Mariluz Chandonia
Hi Mari! Thanks for reaching out. You can find more information and tips about applying to jobs with NPS here: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/workwithus.htm. Hope that helps!
I would like to have more information to apply to the job there.
Hello Han! Thanks for reaching out. More information on current openings can be found at USAJobs.gov, and often asked questions are answered on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's website here: https://www.opm.gov/faqs. Hope that helps!
Aloha! Not sure if NPS can answer this but I am wondering how long it typically takes to find out if you got a job or not. My friend and I applied to work at a few jobs with ARAMARK in Olympic National Park and its been about three weeks with no word. Any suggestion as to where we could go or look next? Mahalo
May I inquire? Can non USA citizens apply to work at one of the National Parks? I am a Singapore citizen interested in working for the National Parks. Thank you!
You need to make it easier to find how to volunteer at a park. Is there one location I can go to that list the parks and their volunteer opportunities? My wife and I are retired love our parks and want to volunteer.
Sir, I do not personally have any experience working for the NPS, but when my dad "retired", he felt the same way. He and my mother now have been working & volunteering for NPS for about 8 years now. My dad entered as an employee, and my mother entered as first a volunteer, and then a seasonal employee. I would like to put you in touch with them, regarding advice, if you haven't already found answers you are looking for. If it is possible for you to access my Facebook profile, I'd ask that you send me a pm so that I can refer you. Good luck, I hope you are successful in your endeavor!
Scott, check out www.volunteer.gov. That is the (mostly) one-stop shop for volunteer opportunities across all federal agencies. Opportunities for one-day and longer assignments can be found. Of course, if you know you'd like to volunteer at a specific park, sometimes it's just easier to call them directly. See you in the parks!

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