U.S. Park Police Officer Career Information

Job Duties, Education Requirements and Salary Outlook

U.S. Park Police officer on horseback
••• Elvert Barnes / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The United States of America is home to some of the most recognizable natural and man-made landmarks in the world. In order to ensure the enjoyment of these landmarks for ages to come and to keep the millions of visitors they receive each year safe, someone must be tasked with their protection. That's where the job of the U.S. Park Police comes in.

The U.S. Park Police is among the oldest federal law enforcement agencies in the country, having been established shortly after the U.S. Marshals Service. The park police were created by President George Washington, and have been working to keep federal lands safe for more than 200 years.

What U.S. Park Police Officers Do

U.S. Park police are tasked with protecting the nation's parks and national monuments. The majority of park police officers provide general law enforcement services within Washington, D.C. as well as assist secret service agents in the protection of visiting dignitaries and U.S. presidents.

Park police officers enforce state, local and federal laws within areas controlled by the national parks service. These services include criminal investigation, traffic enforcement, aviation support, criminal intelligence and icon protection. The job of a U.S. park police officer often includes:

  • Patrolling parks, recreation and monument areas
  • Security services at national monuments and memorials
  • Traffic enforcement
  • Investigative services
  • General law enforcement
  • Intelligence gathering and reporting
  • Dignitary protection
  • Report writing
  • Preparing warrants
  • Arresting suspects
  • Providing courtroom testimony

Many officers are assigned to work in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco and the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City. Officers are also detailed throughout the country and may work in any area falling under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service.

Officers may work in a variety of different capacities and settings, including outdoor patrol, in an office, or even in the air. The U.S. Park Police employs motorcycle squads, marine patrol units, and investigators.

What Kind of Education and Skills are Required for U.S. Park Police Officers

To become a U.S. park police officer, you must be at least 21 years old and have either 60 hours of college credit or two years of relevant work history. Prior law enforcement employment, military experience or a job in which you progressed in responsibility and authority may be considered as relevant work history.​

Most applicants must not be older than 37 upon appointment as a park police officer. Exceptions include military veterans and those currently working in federal law enforcement careers. Veteran's preference points are also applied to military veterans.

A thorough background check is completed on all applicants. Common background check disqualifiers include past drug use and previous arrests and convictions, especially felony arrests. Members of the United States Park Police force are fully sworn police officers. Candidates who are selected are sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia for an 18-week police academy.

Job Growth and Salary Outlook U.S. Park Police

Jobs with the U.S. Park Police can found at USAJobs.gov. The park police open their hiring process periodically as vacancies necessitate.  Due to the mandatory retirement age of 57, attrition and turnover should continue to create vacancies within the department. Upon appointment, U.S. park police officers are sent to a training academy and begin earning a salary of $52,000. After completion of the academy, all new officers are sent to their first duty assignment in Washington, D.C.​

Working as a U.S. Park Police Officer

Working as a U.S. park police officer offers a good salary and great federal health and retirement benefits. It also provides an opportunity to work with a variety of people and to help protect some of the country's most important national landmarks.

If you enjoy the chance to work around the country and help keep the United States' treasured recreational areas, monuments, and memorials safe and secure for all to enjoy, a job as a U.S. park police officer may just be the perfect criminology career for you.