Department of Environmental Conservation

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Forest Ranger 1

Job Description

DEC forest ranger fighting fire

Forest rangers are sworn police officers, who work within an assigned geographic area, and enforce provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) in order to protect and enhance the State's lands and natural resources and the well-being of the public who use these resources. Incumbents of these positions organize and conduct search and rescue operations; educate the public in wilderness safety and natural resource care; and administer the State's wildland fire-management program, including wildfire suppression and prescribed fire activities.

These positions are only classified at the Department of Environmental Conservation in the Division of Forest Protection. These positions are assigned to each of the Department's nine regions.

Forest Ranger Video Testimonials

The following links go to DEC's YouTube channel

Watch a special On The Frontlines to learn what a typical day is for a DEC Forest Ranger.

Check out a video on becoming a DEC Forest Ranger.

Job Qualifications

On or before the exam on September 17, 2022:

Either 1: An associate or higher-level degree in aquatic biology, conservation biology, environmental biology, wildlife biology, environmental and natural resource conservation, environmental engineering, fisheries and fisheries sciences and management, fish and wildlife technology, aquatic and fisheries science, forestry, forest engineering, forest management, forest recreation, forest resource management, forest resources production and management, forest sciences and biology, forest technology, land surveying technology, natural resource management, natural resources management and policy, wildlife science, wildlife fish and wildlands science and management, or any other associate or higher-level degree program accredited by the Society of American Foresters;


2: Two years of active United States military service with an honorable discharge or under conditions in the New York State Restoration of Honor Act and two years of qualifying experience in forest management; fish and wildlife management; forest, fish or wildlife interpretation in a wildland setting, or law enforcement in a park, forest, or wildland setting.

Examples of experience that will NOT qualify include but are not limited to: animal husbandry, lawn mowing, landscaping, timber harvesting, tree and brush trimming, pesticide application, sawing firewood, farm hand and other types of experience that are categorized as laborer or maintenance work in a garden shop, park, or forestry setting.

Education Requirements

As stated in Section 58 of the Civil Service Law, at the time of appointment, you must have a high school diploma, high school equivalency diploma issued by a recognized educational authority, or a USAFI GED high school level diploma.

Your required educational credentials must have been awarded by an educational institution accredited by a regional, national, or specialized agency recognized as an accrediting agency by the United States (U.S.) Department of Education/Secretary of Education. If awarded by an institution outside of the U.S. and its territories, you must provide independent verification of equivalency. A list of companies that provide these services (leaves DEC's website) (fees must be paid to the company you choose) can be found on the Civil Service website.

If you expect to meet the educational requirements by June 30, 2023, you can take the test. You must submit proof of successful completion of the educational requirements to the appointing authority at the time of the employment interview or you will not be considered for appointment. Failure to meet the educational requirements by June 30, 2023, may result in your removal from the eligible list.

DEC forest ranger at trail head

Additional Requirements for Appointment

You must meet the below requirements to be appointed and for continued employment.

  • Background Investigation: Because of the nature of the position there is an investigative screening that will include a thorough character investigation, including a polygraph. All convictions must be reported. Conviction of a felony will bar appointment. Misdemeanors or any falsified or omitted information may bar appointment or result in removal after appointment. Each case is determined on its own merits, consistent with the applicable provisions of state and federal laws.
  • Driver's License Requirement: You must possess a valid license to operate a motor vehicle in New York State at the time of appointment and continuously thereafter.
  • Drug Testing: Prior to appointment, you will be required to participate in a drug screening test and are responsible for the clinical lab fee. Upon appointment, all probationary Forest Rangers are subject to periodic, unannounced drug testing from the initial date of hire up to and including the completion of field training. All permanent Forest Rangers are subject to a yearly random drug test. Failure to meet these standards may result in your disqualification and/or discipline. Cannabis use is not permitted for employees in this title. Cannabis use will be tested for during the pre-employment screening process and may be the basis for disqualification for employment or may be a basis for removal from employment. A complete statement for drug testing for this title can be found on the Civil Service website (leaves DEC's website).
  • Fingerprinting and Fee Requirements: Fingerprinting is required prior to appointment. You will be required to pay the processing fee.
  • Firearms: You must be legally eligible to carry firearms. Conviction of a felony will bar appointment and a misdemeanor may bar appointment.
  • Physical/Medical Requirements: Your physical and medical condition will be evaluated to ensure that you are able to satisfactorily perform the duties of this position with or without reasonable accommodation. The physical/medical standards include Vision: Distant visual acuity should be correctable to better than, or equal to 20/30 (Snellen) in each eye; if correction is required, binocular visual acuity not less than 20/40 without correction. Binocular peripheral vision should not be less than 170 degrees. Color Vision: You must have satisfactory color vision perception. Hearing: The average hearing level (HL) for the three test frequencies of 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz will not exceed 25 dB in either ear, and no single hearing level will exceed 30 dB at any of these three test frequencies in either ear. Hearing loss at 3000 Hz will not exceed 40 dB HL in either ear. A complete statement of the physical and medical standards is available on the Civil Service website (leaves DEC's website).
  • Physical Skills and Abilities Testing: If you are considered for appointment, your physical skills and abilities will be evaluated through tests of strength, agility, flexibility, endurance, and swimming. These physical skills and abilities tests will be conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation. To obtain a statement of the requirements of these tests, contact the Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Forest Protection at (518) 402-8839, or
  • Psychological Evaluation: Prior to appointment, you will be required to participate in a psychological evaluation to determine your fitness to perform the essential duties of the position. Failure to meet standards will result in your disqualification.
  • Tattoo Policy: You must comply with the Department of Environmental Conservation's, Division of Forest Protection (DFP) tattoo policy which requires all members to present a neat and professional appearance at all times. Tattoos are not permitted on the head, face, scalp, neck or hands. Tattoos which are visible on the lower arms, or lower legs, shall be reviewed by the regional Captain and if the tattoos are deemed to be in contradiction to a professional appearance the Forest Ranger shall be required to wear a tattoo sleeve, skin tone in color, long sleeve shirts or avoid shorts as applicable. Forest Rangers employed by DFP prior to September 1, 2008, are exempt from the portions of this policy which address tattoos; however, they may not acquire any additional tattoos that contradict the above guidance. Existing tattoos which are exempt because they were acquired prior to September 1, 2008, may not be expanded and may not be modified without permission of the Division Director. For additional information on this policy, contact the Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Forest Protection at (518) 402-8839, or
  • United State Citizenship and New York State Residency: Although not required for taking the test, you must be a citizen of the United States at the time of appointment. If appointed, you must be at least 21 years old and possess and maintain New York State residency pursuant to the Public Officers Law.

Basic Training

Forest Ranger recruits are required to spend approximately six months in a residential academy setting taking courses and learning the skills as required by the position. Recruits receive the basic school training required of all NYS police officers such as Criminal Procedure Law, Penal Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, defensive tactics, physical training and wellness. They also receive specialized training in wildland search and rescue, wildland fire, incident management, Wilderness First Responder, swift water rescue and State Land protection. Following graduation from the basic school they go to their permanent field assignments across the State where they are mentored by senior Forest Rangers in a monitored field training program for six to eight weeks.


The current hiring rate is $59,298.

These positions exist in the Department of Environmental Conservation at numerous locations throughout the State.

Promotional Opportunities

Forest Ranger 1 is the entry level job title in the Forest Ranger series. Promotional opportunities are available through competitive examination and satisfactory service.

Application Procedures

If you are interested in an examination for this position, visit Career Opportunities in New York State Law Enforcement webpage (leaves DEC's website).

Civilian Positions with the Division of Forest Protection

Are you looking to work with the Forest Rangers? Learn about civilian positions:

Radio Dispatcher

Facility Operations Assistant 1

Service and Repair Assistant (Motor Equipment)

Office Assistant 1

To stay updated on when these positions become available, sign up to receive DEC's Employment and Internship emails.