Looking for for work and love being outside? California State Parks invites individuals to “Live the Parks Life” as rangers or lifeguards in the nation’s largest state park system. 

Through June 10, individuals can apply for the State Park Peace Officer Cadet exams. Cadet academy graduates can serve the state as rangers and lifeguards to safeguard both visitors and the historical, cultural and natural resources found in 280 state park units. Offices are located near beaches or waterways, or in deserts, parks, museums, historical parks and state vehicular recreation areas.


“Serving as a ranger or lifeguard in California’s State Park System is a unique opportunity to make an everlasting impact on the state’s natural landscapes and the millions of people who visit them,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “I know firsthand how rewarding it is to provide natural and cultural resource protection and ensure public safety.”

The minimum age to be a peace officer is 21 years old. Candidates are required to have a valid California driver’s license and have 60 units of college credits, with 21 units being general education.


The entire selection process for becoming a ranger or lifeguard takes approximately 15 months. The first step in the selection/examination process is to mail, email or hand deliver an application during the open application period. The application is used to determine if the candidate meets the minimum qualifications for admission into the examination, which consists of the Peace Officer Standards and Training Entry Level Law Enforcement Test Battery written exam. This exam is used to admit the candidate into the next phases of the selection process, which include the physical agility test, background investigation, oral interview and medical and psychological evaluations. Successful applicants will be sent a notification to attend the eight-month-long POST-certified law enforcement academy.

The academy instruction prepares cadets physically, mentally and emotionally to enter the workforce as a state park peace officer ranger or lifeguard. Rangers and lifeguards are sworn officers equipped with a firearm and badge. Cadets will learn how to conduct investigations, make physical arrests, use firearms and perform emergency responses. Training also includes how to actively protect park resources, assist visitors and run interpretive programs.


Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the State Park Peace Officer Cadet Academy:


Do I have to carry a firearm to serve as a ranger or lifeguard?

Yes. Cadet training includes how to conduct investigations, make physical arrests, use firearms and perform emergency responses.


What is the age minimum and age maximum to apply?

Candidates must be at least 21 years of age to become a peace officer. State Park oeace officers; mandatory retirement age is 65 years, but there is no maximum application age.

I have not completed two years of college yet. Can I still apply while I am still taking classes?

Candidates may be enrolled in college at the time of application but must have at least 21 units of general education credits satisfying general education curriculum standards with courses (which may include courses in natural science, social science, mathematics, language and humanities). By the time of appointment, a candidate must have completed 60 semester units of study at a state-accredited college or university. A degree in park administration, natural sciences, social sciences, law enforcement or a related field is desirable.

Where is the cadet academy located?

Most cadets attend training at Butte College Law Enforcement Academy (Butte County). However, the department may utilize several academy sites, including Mott Training Center at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, South Bay Regional Public Safety Academy at Fort Ord in Monterey, and the Ben Clark Law Enforcement Training facility in Riverside. It is at the department’s discretion to determine an academy location for each class.

Do I get paid while at the academy?

Yes. Cadets earn a salary; currently, the monthly salary range is $3,930 to $5,300. Most cadets start at the low end of the range unless they are a current state employee with a salary within the range.

To hire a workforce reflective of California’s diverse population, California State Parks is committed to ensuring equal access and connecting all job seekers to opportunities through fair hiring and employment practices. For more information on the cadet exams, minimum qualifications, additional frequently asked questions and a timeline of the recruitment cycle visit LiveTheParksLife.com.

Please send questions regarding other employment opportunities at California State Parks to the Workforce Planning and Recruitment Office at recruiting@parks.ca.gov.