This article will help you find suitable job openings, whether you want to earn extra income on a full-time retirement job or you want a more productive way to spend the summer.
Can Retirees Work in National Parks?
Here’s a short answer: yes!
Retirees who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors can find suitable positions in the many national parks and offices.
The National Park Service partners with many communities in the country to preserve their natural resources, cultural values, and histories. In doing this, the National Park Service creates fun outdoor places for park guests to explore. This provides education and inspiration for future generations, as well as enjoyment for anyone visiting the various parks.
But most importantly, it opens doors of job opportunities for all qualified applicants who are interested in working at the national park.
This is where retirees come in. You can bring your unique perspective, vast work experience, and expertise to work in the park. Regardless of your previous work experience, there are plenty of opportunities for almost everyone.
What Kind of Jobs Are Available in National Parks?
The National Park Service website states that there are over 400 parks and offices across the United States where interested individuals can find work opportunities.
This means retirees can find something that suits their interest and skill level, regardless of where they live in the country.
Whether you are looking to work a seasonal position or you prefer a full-time position, there is something for everyone. Job opportunities range from housekeeping to bartending, desk clerk, waiter, and food preparation.
If you prefer working in the outdoors, you can find job openings that allow you to work as a tour guide, driver, or hike leader.
Here are some of the common National Park jobs for retirees and their average hourly pay:
Reservation Sales Agent
Reservation sales agents, in a park setting, are front-line professionals saddled with the responsibility of booking the park’s reservation. They do this through telephone lines and the internet.
Applicants will usually need to undergo training to understand how to use specific software packages designed for reservations.
A large part of a reservation sales agent’s duty involves answering inquiries and providing information to guests on the phone. This can mean answering a variety of questions, providing knowledgeable information about certain park’s features, or assisting guests with their reservations.
A high school diploma is usually the most important requirement for this position. However, good communication skills, excellent phone etiquette, and some basic internet knowledge can also improve your chances of landing this job.
Reservation sales agents earn a base average hourly pay of $12.86 working in national parks. Some national park concessioner companies can pay reservation sales agents up to $26.59 per hour.
If you have experience with truck driving or driving passenger and cargo vehicles, you may want to apply for the position of transportation driver in the National Park.
But instead of moving cargo between places, transportation drivers are more likely to shuttle park guests around the various amenities and scenic spots in the park for sightseeing.
It is common for transportation drivers to serve as tour guides. The duties will typically involve answering a variety of questions related to the park and providing useful information on the different park features.
In some cases, these drivers may be required to offer pick-up and drop-off services to and from airports, especially for guests who have booked lodging and reservations.
Obviously, you will need prior experience driving buses or shuttles to apply for this position. Also, you need to have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) in addition to a minimum of a high school diploma.
Good communication skills, as well as excellent people skills, are essential to relate well with guests and educate passengers during park tours.
The hourly rate for transportation drivers ranges between $16 and $38 on average, depending on the city and the specific type of service they offer (transit, intercity, bus driving, etc).
Guest Service Agent
Guests who lodge in national parks often have their first face-to-face interactions with guest service agents. As you already know, a guest’s first impressions can impact his or her entire experience.
This is another way of saying that the position of a guest service agent is most suitable for retirees with excellent customer service skills and a passion to help others.
Some of the roles involved in this position include:
Greeting guests on arrival
Assigning rooms and suites to guests and issuing keys
Collecting payment information and managing bills
Apart from helping guests with check-ins and check-outs, guest service agents also coordinate porters, housekeeping, kitchen staff, and transport providers to meet guest needs. They are also responsible for processing requests for food and beverages and making sure kitchen workers respond accordingly.
This position also requires an individual who is proactive in dealing with conflict and resolving problems with disappointed guests. Most importantly, a guest service agent acts as a central information hub about individual lodges and the park in general.
A high school diploma is required to apply for this position.
Guest service agents have an average hourly rate of $12 with some national park concessioners paying as high as $25.53 per hour.
The position of a maintenance technician may be the right national job for you if somewhere in your former career you worked as an electrician, plumber, painter, or carpenter. You might also be a good fit for the position if you consider yourself a handy person.
This position comes with a broad job description since it involves making sure that everything in the park works as expected. Thankfully, no one individual is responsible for everything. Instead, the position requires several professionals performing a wide variety of maintenance duties.
Some of the duties include:
Handle project requests
Repair of utility equipment
Replacement of defective equipment
Repair work on structures, buildings, furniture, signage, and partitions.
Generally, a high school diploma is required for this position. You need to have prior experience if you are applying for electrical, plumbing, or other specialties duties.
The average hourly rate for maintenance technicians working in national parks is $17.05 per hour.
Grounds Maintenance Worker
There are numerous opportunities to land a job as a grounds maintenance worker. This is because national parks typically have vast sizes and it takes many workers to ensure the cleanliness and attractiveness of the outdoor areas.
Typical duties for grounds maintenance workers include:
Mowing grasses and fertilizing lawns
Tree or hedge trimming
Mulching and leaf blowing
In addition to landscaping duties, workers in this position are also responsible for maintaining picnic areas, outdoor public amenities, walking paths, and horse riding paths.
Keep in mind that while this is one of the easily available National Park jobs for retirees, the position can be physically demanding. In other words, you need to be in good physical shape to endure the occasional harsh outdoor weather you may work in.
The position of a grounds maintenance worker usually doesn’t require any specific education requirement. But you can improve your chances of landing the job if you have landscaping or grounds maintenance experience.
The estimated base average pay per hour for this position is $13.37. Depending on where you live, you may find openings that offer close to $30 per hour.
Where to Apply for National Park Job as a Retiree
The best place to find National Park jobs for retirees is at concession companies. You can find a list of authorized concessioners on the website of the National Park Service.
These companies offer a variety of commercial services, including providing food and lodging in the national parks. With over 25,000 seasonal workers hired by concession companies every year across the various national parks, you are likely to find an opening.
You can also apply directly to the park service but you have a better chance of landing a summer park job with one of the many concession companies.
Retirees planning to apply for seasonal jobs in National Parks will have a higher chance of landing such positions in the offseason. Most concessionaire websites post job listings throughout the year. But it is best to apply for jobs about six months ahead of the peak tourist season.
Whether it is full-time or part-time work, the National Park provides a great opportunity for people to earn some extra income in retirement.
Retirees can stay active while contributing to the preservation of natural, cultural, and historic values.
John E Chambers is an experienced financial advice expert. Born in Chicago, he has a master's in Industrial Finance, but he has spent decades offering investment advice to businesses and individuals alike. He is the founder of RetireeWorkforce.com and wants the website to be valuable for retirement advice. In addition, he writes articles that help users jump-start their retirement plans and choose the best investment options. If not pondering over stock market statistics or reading some magazines, you can find John spending time with his family. As an early retiree, John also offers unique insights into what post-retirement life is like.