Industries & Professions /
Parks and Public Lands
There is a wide range of jobs on parks and public lands in this country, but their numbers depend on the economy and the priorities of Congress, the president, and state and local government budgets. During the late 2000s and early 2010s, state and local governments were reducing their spending, and cutting funding to parks. The result was a greater dependency on volunteers to help staff parks. The greatest difficulty in getting jobs in this field is the stiff competition for them. Although most jobs in parks and public lands are not very high paying, they are quite secure and are considered very desirable by people who enjoy working outdoors or with the various elements of the natural world. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the number of jobs for foresters and conservation scientists is expected to grow very slowly through 2020. The DOL says it will increase by 5 percent through 2020, much slower than the average rate for all jobs. Most opportunities will be found at the federal level, due to tightened state and local government budgets. The DOL expects fire prevention, management, and restoration to be the primary tasks of these employees in the coming years. Another common job in the park system is groundskeepers, and it is one job in the industry that is expected to grow at a good rate. The DOL says the number of groundskeeper jobs will increase by 20 percent through 2020, faster than the average. Although this category includes workers of landscape companies, the DOL does say that a factor leading to the increase is the number of new urban parks that are being developed in large cities throughout the country. For those interested in obtaining a job in forestry or conservation, the prospects aren't as promising. The DOL predicts no change in the number of jobs available in this field through 2020. Foresters will find more job opportunities with private forests or companies that are utilizing the land to obtain timber and pellets. Smaller state and local government budgets will keep opportunities at state and city parks to a minimum. Applicants for jobs that do become available will face extremely competitive situations. Wildlife biologists or specialists also face meager job prospects through 2020. The DOL expects the number of jobs in this field to grow by only 7 percent. Although the number of jobs is dependent on government funding, which has been less than in past years since the mid-2000s, there are also more areas of cities that are expanding beyond their borders, affecting the local wildlife at area parks and creating the need for these workers. Another job that has a more positive outlook is that of the recreation worker or educational program employee at parks. The DOL expects the number of these jobs to increase by 19 percent through 2020. As mentioned, most opportunities for these workers occur at state and city parks, but they may also find good opportunities during the summer for special camps. Overall, the best future opportunities in parks and public lands may come in the areas of environmental education, computer specialization, and internal resource or information management as managers of these lands continue to educate the public about their importance and benefit to the communities they serve.