Wilderness Connect, housed on the University of Montana campus, acknowledges that we are on the traditional lands of the Salish and Kalispel peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout many generations and are its past, present, and future caretakers.
Today, there are lots of different job openings in wilderness. Wilderness areas are managed by people who work for one of the four federal wilderness management agencies--Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. Each of these agencies has both permanent and seasonal wilderness staffs. The agencies rely on assistance from partners, such as non-profit organizations and wilderness friends groups, to steward wilderness areas. So working in wilderness can take the form of either federal or private-sector employment.
Although there's no one path to becoming a permanent wilderness worker, first consider making sure you have an adequate educational background by pursuing a degree in natural resources management, enrolling in an advanced certificate program, or taking free online wilderness classes. Next consider seasonal wilderness employment to gather experience before applying for permanent wilderness work. During seasonal employment, be sure to focus on building quality connections with land managers and non-profit staffs to help you transition from seasonal work to a long-term career in wilderness.
All federal wilderness jobs are advertised through USAJobs. Titles for jobs with wilderness responsibility can be diverse but can include titles like:
- Forestry Technician (wilderness/trails), Forestry Technician (wilderness), and Maintenance Worker (trails)
- Forestry Technician (recreation) and Recreation Management Specialist
- Wilderness, District and Park Ranger positions with/without special area emphasis and Field Manager
- and others that generally fall into the 400-499 Biological Sciences job series
Science related field positions are often listed as Biological Science Technician, with varying areas of emphasis (ex. wildlife, owls, fish etc.). While permanent positions can be advertised anytime, seasonal jobs often start being advertised 3-6 months before the beginning of the upcoming field season. In the desert southwest and other warmer areas, job posts can start as early as October, while in colder climates, many job posts start appearing in November through March. In November, federal agencies often conduct job fairs to prepare applicants for numerous job opening occurring that month.
If you are actively seeking work, review USAJobs daily since most job announcements are only open for a short period of time, in some cases as little as five days. Watch for and respond to outreach notices since these occur before job application processes open and indicate an upcoming vacancy. Responding to the outreach process is important because hiring managers shape the actual job advertisement based on who is interested in the job. Responses to outreach notices can determine if a job is ultimately advertised publicly or internally and the GS level that the job is advertised at.
When you apply for federal jobs, have all of your required documents--resume, educational transcripts, references etc.--collected before you apply.
General tips for applying for federal jobs include:
- Ensure you are applying for a job that is open to you.
- Fully read and understand the application process and its requirements.
- Include all required eligibility documents. Incomplete documentation is one of the top reasons applications are disqualified.
- In your resume:
- Customize it to the job for which you are applying. Don't submit a generic resume and be careful about cutting and pasting from resumes you submitted for other positions.
- Document the duration (in months or years) of prior employment and include the GS level, or the equivalent for non-federal work experience.
- Consider using a word or verb list to describe your work experience and the tasks that experience entailed in detail.
- Describe your best work to differentiate yourself from other applicants.
- If you're surprised by having not been referred or selected for a position you feel you are fully qualified for, call the hiring specialist to ask why. This will help you determine what gaps you may have in your education, experience, or other qualifications.
Non-profit wilderness employment can also be diverse, including jobs advocating for more wilderness as well as jobs stewarding existing wilderness areas. Similar to federal work, while permanent positions, such as program directors, can be advertised at any time. Seasonal jobs working for non-profit wilderness organizations are often advertised several months before the upcoming field season and can include trail crew positions, wilderness fellows positions, field monitoring positions, volunteer coordinators, and internships.
Lots of different non-profit organizations employee people to work in wilderness including through national, state or regional Conservation Corps. Organizations like the American Conservation Experience (ACE staff and ACE Conservation Corps positions), Student Conservation Association, Montana Conservation Corps, Maine Conservation Corps and Southwest Conservation Corps are AmeriCorps funded and offer 6-10 month seasonal positions including field crew leaders, youth crew leaders and field crew members. Much of the work done by these types of organizations occurs in wilderness or other wildlands. All AmeriCorps employees receive student loan payment deferment while employed and a $6000 annual education award (pro-rated based on months of service) that can be used to further education in wilderness stewardship.
Job Openings - Alphabetical by Application Due Date
- Budget analyst, Canyonlands National Park, apply by January 21
- Crew leaders and Field crew leaders/Assistant field crew leaders, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, apply by January 21
- Forestry technician (wilderness/trails), Tongass National Forest, apply by January 21
- Recreation management specialist, Allegheny National Forest, apply by January 21
- Regional developed recreation program manager: planning, landscape architecture and access, Forest Service in California, contact Nancy Parachini at Nancy.firstname.lastname@example.org to respond to the outreach by January 21
- Assistant field manager (resources), Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness and other neighboring Bureau of Land Management lands, apply by January 24
- Cultural interpretation internship, Arizona Conservation Corps at Chiricahua National Monument, apply by January 24
- Hydrologist, Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico, apply by January 24
- Social scientist/natural resource specialist, Forest Service in California, apply by January 24
- Supervisory natural and cultural resource management specialist, Lassen Volcanic National Park, apply by January 24
- Biological science technician (wildlife) - owls, Mount Rainier National Park, apply by January 25
- Park ranger, Glacier National Park, apply by January 25
- Public safety dispatcher (agency employee and public application), Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, apply by January 28
- Social scientist/natural resource specialist/landscape architect, Ouachita National Forest, apply by January 28
- Seasonal field projects coordinator, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, apply by January 30
- Branch chief - branch of recreation and cultural resources, Bureau of Land Management Montana/Dakotas state office, apply by January 31
- District ranger, Forest Service multiple locations in the Intermountain Region, apply by January 31
- Field instructors, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, apply by January 31
- Field positions, Arizona Conservation Corps, starts January 31
- Field positions, Maine Appalachian Trail Club, apply by January 31
- Hispanic crew leader, New Mexico Conservation Corps, starts January 31
- Outreach coordinator, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, apply by January 31
- Recreation management specialist, Forest Service in various locations, apply by January 31
- Ridgerunners and caretakers, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, apply by January 31
- Deputy district ranger, Monongahela National Forest, apply by February 1
- Executive director, Wild Rockies Field Institute, apply by February 1
- Supervisory information technology specialist, Gulf Islands National Seashore, apply by February 1
- Forestry technician (wilderness/trails), Shawnee National Forest, apply by February 2
- Maintenance worker, Yosemite National Park, apply by February 2
- Planning and environmental specialist, Bureau of Land Management in Carson City, Nevada, apply by February 2
- Recreation fee technician, Cabrillo National Monument, apply by February 2
- Park ranger (protection), Cape Hatteras National Seashore, apply by February 3
- Wildlife refuge specialist, Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico, apply by February 3
- Trails and recreation technician, The Pisgah Conservancy, apply by February 7
- Land surveyor, Bureau of Land Management in Alaska, apply by February 8
- Backcountry trails program, California Conservation Corps, apply by February 28
- Voices of the wilderness artist in residence, multiple wildernesses in Alaska, apply by March 1
- District ranger, Forest Service in multiple locations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, apply by April 1
- Leave No Trace traveling teams, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, positions start in May
- District ranger, Forest Service in multiple locations in the midwest, apply by May 13
- Forestry technician (recreation) GS 4 or GS 4-5, Forest Service in multiple locations in the midwest, apply by May 13
- District ranger, Forest Service in multiple locations in the Southwest, apply by September 30 (applications expire every 90 days)
- Forestry technician (recreation), Forest Service in multiple locations in the Southwest, apply by September 30 (applications expire every 90 days)
- Recreation management specialist, Forest Service in multiple locations in the Southwest, apply by September 30 (applications expire every 90 days)
Jobs Open Until Filled
- Head of marketing, Adventure Scientists
- Various field positions, American Conservation Experience
- Landscape partnership manager and 2022 seasonal trail crew positions, Appalachian Trail Conservancy
- Interpretive specialist, Baxter State Park
- Various field positions, Conservation Corps
- Various field positions, Conservation Corps New Mexico
- GIS specialist, Florida Trail Association
- Trail crew leader and members, Friends of Nevada Wilderness (positions start mid-May (leader) and early June (member))
- Executive director, Keystone Trails Association
- Information and program coordinator, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
- Volunteer engagement manager, Long-distance trails program coordinator, Trail steward program coordinator, New Jersey Trail Conference
- Finance and operations manager, North Country Trail Association
- Conservation program manager, Pacific Crest Trail Association
- Various field positions, Pacific Northwest Trail Association
- Various field positions, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards
- Various field positions, Volunteer program coordinator, Washington Trails Association
Are you an employer and have a job you want included in the listing above and in our bi-monthly email newsletter? Email it to Lisa Ronald.