Learn the ABCs of National Park Jobs

From Archeologists to Wildland Firefighters, We’re Thankful For All National Park Employees and Partners
Alanna SobelNPF Blog
NPS Employee at Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve - NPF Photo / Dawn Kish

More than 22,000 people protect, preserve, and care for our national parks – for all of us.  

Have you ever thought about what each of those individuals do day-to-day? 

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it over the years and still, there’s so much more to learn!

Ranger at entrance station handing something to a visitor in their car

Ranger at entrance station at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

NPS Photo / Janice Wei

They are the friendly faces that welcome us at the visitor centers, they are the storytellers that open our eyes to different perspectives, and they are also the people who work behind-the-scenes to help make our park experiences enjoyable and meaningful.

A lot of park staff wear green and gray uniforms and those iconic ranger hats. But there are also park employees that wear clothing that may be more reminiscent of what you and I put on every day for our jobs.  

There are so many different positions across the National Park Service and every single person plays a critical role in helping to protect, preserve, and share these special places and stories with all of us. I am eternally grateful for all of them. 

While this list is in no way complete, and we may have taken some creative license with some of the letters, we thought this ABCs list was a fun way to highlight the breadth and depth of the National Park Service and give you a glimpse into how varied national park jobs can be.  

A is for Archeologist

NPS archeologist working underwater to document damage on B-29 Bomber at Lake Mead

NPS archeologist documenting damage on B-29 Bomber at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

NPS Photo

B is for Budget Analyst  

C is for Cultural Resources Specialist  

D is for Dispatcher Public Safety

A woman in a National Park Service uniform holds and activates a fire extinguisher.

Ranger Lindy Mihata takes part in fire extinguisher training for public safety

NPS Photo

E is for Education Specialist

A woman standing among 4 girls as they make clay pottery

Ranger Drapeau at Pipestone National Monument

NPS Photo

F is for Facility Management System Specialist

G is for Gardener

H is for Historian

Ranger talking next to a portrait of Mary McLeod Bethune

Ranger tour at Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site

NPS Photo / Victoria Stauffenberg

I is for Intern

J is for Junior Ranger*

*This is a job title that everyone - no matter their age - can hold! Check out all the incredible ways to become a Junior Ranger.

A smiling young girl holds up her junior ranger activity book

A junior ranger at Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

NPS Photo

K is for Killer Whale Expert*

*While this isn't a formal job title, we know that the National Park Service staff at Kenai Fjords National Park certainly know a lot about this largest member of the dolphin family! 

L is for Landscape Architect

M is for Maintenance Worker

A maintenance worker, in a high-visibilty vest, stains a fence at Arches National Park

A maintenance worker stains a fence at Arches National Park

NPS Photo / Andrew Kuhn

N is for Natural Resource Specialist  

O is for Operations Manager

P is for Park Ranger

NPS ranger stands in Cypress Dome at Everglades National Park

NPS ranger in Cypress Dome at Everglades National Park

NPS Photo / Glenn Gardner

Q is for Quail Expert*

*This job title doesn’t actually exist, but we know that the National Park Service staff at Pinnacles National Park certainly know a lot about the California quail, which has a head plume that curls forward in front of their head. 

R is for Recreation Fee Analyst

S is for Superintendent

Superintendent Tara Morrison poses with actor Michael Crutcher. Several actors portraying Frederick Douglass were on site over the weekend.

Superintendent Tara Morrison poses with actor Michael Crutcher at Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

NPS Photo

T is for Trails Worker  

U is for Underwater Resources Expert* 

*This might not be an official title, but we know that the National Park Foundation Science Fellows are teaching us a ton about underwater resources! 

V is for Volunteer Coordinator 

a man and woman in national park service volunteer uniforms smile and point to volunteer patches on their shoulders

Volunteers Susan and Matthew Trucano in Denali National Park & Preserve

NPS Photo / Emily Mesner

W is for Wildland Firefighter

A National Park Service employee in firefighting gear poses for the camera

A National Park Service employee with the Fire and Aviation Management Program working in Shenandoah National Park

NPS Photo

X is for Xantus’s Murrelets Expert*

*While this might not be included in their official job title, we know that the National Park Service staff at Channel Islands National Park know a lot about this penguin-like bird as the park is home to the largest population of them in the country! 

Y is for Youth Programs Manager

A group of young visitors walk in to registration for the Youth Summit. On the paved path, in chalk, is written "Welcome to the Youth Summit #NPSYouth"

Youth Summit Registration at Boston National Historical Park

NPS Photo

Z is for Zebra Tailed Lizard Expert*

*It might not be on their nametag, but the National Park Service staff at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument likely know a lot about them as heat tolerant lizards are found in flatlands like those in the park. 

Close-up of a National Park Service badge and patch on an employee

National Park Service badge and patch on an employee at Joshua Tree National Park

NPS Photo / Kurt Moses

It almost feels like the National Park Service offers every job imaginable, doesn’t it?  

One thing is for certain, we’re thankful for every single person who makes up the National Park Service family.  

Join us in showing your appreciation for the many hats NPS employees wear! 

Which jobs sound the most interesting to you? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

And if you’re interested in applying for a national parks job, check out our 3 Tips for Applying for a National Parks Job to help you get started! 


The beautiful video featured in this post, produced by the National Park Foundation and its Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque premier partners Budweiser, HanesBrands, L.L.Bean, Nature Valley, Subaru of America, and Union Pacific Railroad, with additional support from The Coca-Cola Company and Winnebago Industries, is a tribute and thank you to all the dedicated national park rangers and employees that care for national parks. We appreciate you! 


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