Today, 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 Forestry Technician (wilderness/trails), Recreation Management Specialist, and others. 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 around December or January.
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, 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 put towards furthering your education in wilderness stewardship.