Work as a ranger or field officer

Rangers help and educate visitors and coordinate, implement and supervise projects to manage natural and cultural heritage.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has a diverse range of positions available. Ranger and field officer roles in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), a part of DPIE, are popular career options for people who love the natural environment and enjoy working outdoors, practical problem-solving and communicating with people.

NPWS is currently making changes to its workforce structure to increase our capacity to deliver vital services in conservation, land-management and visitor services. This involves creating new jobs across the State, especially field-based roles. NPWS advertises vacancies both internally to existing employees and externally for new recruits.

Working as a ranger in a national park

NPWS rangers coordinate, implement and supervise projects for managing the natural and cultural heritage in an area. They also help visitors and community members, giving them information that is educational and conservation-oriented.

Work performed

A ranger's major role is to implement the functions, policies and legislative requirements of DPIE, both on and off conservation reserves. Their tasks include:

  • assisting visitors and generally managing park visitation
  • managing wildlife
  • enforcing park regulations
  • controlling weeds and feral animals
  • managing fire
  • planning and carrying out the improvement and maintenance of park facilities
  • preparing environmental assessments and other statutory responsibilities
  • carrying out natural resource surveys and inventories
  • managing historic sites in the area
  • managing Aboriginal sites and other aspects of an area's Aboriginal heritage, in consultation with the local Aboriginal community.

Rangers need to be good problem-solvers. They need to be able to think quickly in emergencies (such as bushfires), but must also deal with long-term planning issues.

Knowledge, skills and experience

Rangers require skills and knowledge in managing natural and cultural heritage. They must have a degree or equivalent qualification relevant to DPIE field operations. They should understand DPIE policies and procedures, issues about natural and cultural heritage conservation, and law enforcement.

It’s also desirable for rangers to know about certain legislation, including the National Parks and Wildlife Act .

Because they frequently liaise with members of the public and various stakeholder groups, rangers need excellent verbal and written communication skills. Rangers also need to write reports and provide advice within DPIE about conservation matters.

Working as a field officer in a national park

Field officers are responsible for conserving the parks and reserves of their area. They protect natural and cultural heritage, maintain park facilities, and provide information and advice to park visitors and people who live nearby.

Work performed

The work done by field officers is highly varied and they need to be flexible, open to learning and able to apply a wide range of skills. A field officer carries out works programs in national parks and reserves that includes:

  • cleaning, maintaining and improving park assets that include visitor facilities, buildings, roads, fire trails, camping areas, accommodation facilities, parking areas, historic sites, recreational infrastructure and fencing.
  • carrying out bush regeneration, and pest and weed programs to protect park values and manage potential impacts on park neighbours.
  • constructing, installing and monitoring park assets including walking, mountain bike and horse riding tracks, roads, management trails and visitor facilities.
  • maintaining and servicing parks and visitor facilities including rubbish removal, cleaning, hygienic duties, site preparation for events and traffic control.
  • helping carry out hazard reduction burns in the park, both to allow the regeneration of native plants and to protect people and property.
  • assisting in emergencies, such as bushfires, whale strandings, and lost or injured park visitors.
  • performing rehabilitation, restoration and threatened species management programs.
  • participating in visitor safety activities including search and rescue and events.
  • operating and maintaining plant and equipment, all-terrain vehicles, four wheel drive and heavy plant machinery.
  • working with community volunteers on bush regeneration, clean-up days, and other park conservation activities.
  • giving information, advice and assistance to park visitors and members of the local community.

Knowledge, skills and experience

A field officer will develop skills in managing natural and cultural heritage. Much of this is learnt in the field, but experience in these skills is desirable. This is a physically demanding role involving maintenance of visitor facilities (such as walking tracks, signs, roads, shelters, buildings, sewage systems and fences), and operating and maintaining plant and equipment.

In addition to these skills, field officers must be flexible and organised, work well in a team environment or alone with minimal supervision. They must be able to rise to the varied challenges of their job – whether that means travelling in a light aircraft, fighting bushfires or wading out onto a sandbar to help a stranded whale.

Essential requirements for the role include:

  • A current driver's licence and ability to operate 4WD vehicles up to 4.5 tonnes/15 tonnne GVM.
  • Certificiation, or ability to obtain certification within the probationary period (up to 12 months) in operating a chainsaw to crosscut and basic tree felling standard.
  • Ability to operate a two-way radio.
  • Ability to carry out frontline firefighting duties and support roles including ability to obtain and maintain certification as a crew member or higher, within the probationary period (up to 12 months), and a willingness to fly in light aircraft.

Field Officer applicants must meet the requirements of a firefighting medical which is inclusive of a clearance to undertake frontline firefighting roles. They must pass the task-based fitness assessment to a moderate level within the probationary period (up to 12 months) and annually thereafter.

How to apply

NSW Government jobs, including NPWS jobs, are advertised on the I Work for NSW website. We encourage you to check for new vacancies regularly.

Applying for a government job is not the same as applying for jobs in the private sector, and the process includes a number of defined steps. You will have a much better chance of getting an interview if you follow those steps.

The best source of information on how to apply for NSW Government jobs can be found on the Public Service Commission (PSC) website. When a government job is advertised, a role description is provided which explains the function of the role and details a number of capabilities and associated behaviours that are needed for the job. These are based on the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework, which is explained in detail by the PSC.

For information about applying for government jobs online, see the NSW Government jobs website, I Work for NSW.

Women of National Parks and Wildlife Service

NSW Government is an equal opportunity employer. Hear from some of our female staff about working at NPWS.

Page last updated: 19 November 2020