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Public service is a special calling. Careers in Virginia State Parks are more than just a job; they are a way of life. This is particularly so for career field positions - chief rangers, assistant managers, park managers and district managers - who work and live in the parks.

Park positions are more than you might expect. Running a park is like running a small city. The staff performs various duties, including natural resource management, visitor services, law enforcement, water and waste water treatment, facility management and repairs, occupational safety, human resources, financial management and so forth. Staffers must often be “Masters of All Trades.” Park management is challenging, but the work environment in and around Virginia’s most spectacular natural and cultural resources can't be beat.

If you are interested in a career in our parks, consider a seasonal position in one of our parks. There are many such positions, from maintenance to customer service to lifeguarding, that will give you a taste of working in our parks. Seasonal positions are recruited and hired by the parks, so find a nearby park and contact it staff to learn about opportunities and hiring deadlines. These positions are often listed also on our agency's jobs page.

Other opportunities

In addition to career field positions, parks offer:

  • Chief Ranger, Interpreter (Education Specialist)
  • Office Manager or Office and Administration Specialist
  • Business Manager
  • Resource Specialist
  • Visitor Services Specialist
  • Central Office Management Positions

And there are many various seasonal and year-round positions in our parks and central office.

Visit the employment opportunities page for a list of all positions available at DCR.


Park Ranger Career Development Path

For college age students interested in a parks career, we offer the Park Ranger Career Development Path program. It’s a two to three-year intern program, held in the summer, which introduces college students to park operations and ensures that applicants are prepared for entry level management positions. Completion of the program makes individuals highly qualified to fill chief ranger positions in state parks.

Those accepted into the program will spend 10 to 12 weeks each summer at a mentoring park. The student goes to a different mentoring park each summer. Program participants are paid - $12 per hour.

Students in this program are trained in all aspects of the Chief Ranger position. Students are evaluated on performance each session. Upon graduation from college, students may apply for a preliminary interview and physical agility test (explained below). Upon successful completion of the interview and agility test, students are entered into the applicant pool. Those who satisfactorily complete the initial summer internship are invited to continue in the program for the following year.

Our agency has found that students completing this program gain the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for employment as a chief ranger. Those who complete this training learn about interagency functions and competencies in basic job skills. Most importantly, they gain an opportunity for a career with Virginia State Parks.

Candidates who complete the entire program are qualified to apply for a chief ranger position. DCR is not, however, obliged to hire them. Candidates will also find it helpful to develop good writing and interviewing skills for use in the application and interview process.

Although this intern program was designed with management careers in mind, participants may also apply for other park positions, such as park ranger slots that handle maintenance. Maintenance park rangers have no law enforcement responsibilities. There are, however, park ranger positions with law enforcement responsibilities. Those interested in law enforcement positions will have a preliminary interview and must pass an agility test. The positions are handled through a distinctive pool application process. All law enforcement candidates who are selected are subject to a background check and are required to attend our law enforcement academy. Housing is not provided for park rangers.

Contact Bryan Anderson, 804-796-4256,, for more information on the Park Ranger Career Development Path program.

DCR also manages the Youth Conservation Corps, a three-week summer program for people from 14 to 17 years old, and AmeriCorps, another way to serve conservation and learn about it firsthand.