Private Sector Employers in National Parks

Not many people realize just how huge and diverse the private sector is within the National Park Service. Many times you will have to think outside of the box when it comes to researching jobs in the private sector. And while sometimes the jobs might not be what you expect, it’s a great way to get out of the office, embrace the outdoors, have fun, gain experience and of course, make some money.

Private Sector Outdoor Jobs Might not be What you Expect

Private recreation organizations and resorts offer yet another alternative to employment with large government agencies. Similar to the concession companies, jobs with these types of companies will put you in an outdoor setting.

A lot of employers in this group are the family dude ranches commonly found in the western states. These types of places need staff not only to run their restaurants and lodges, but to take guests on horseback rides, lead hiking, mountain biking and rafting tours, organize social events and maintain the grounds. Most of these private lodges, resorts and ranches are near national parks, forests, and wilderness areas.

Did You Know? In U.S. national parks, you’ll find the highest point in North America, the lowest point in the Western hemisphere, the longest cave system in the world, the world’s largest geyser area, the nation’s deepest cave, the world’s largest gypsum dune field, the world’s most massive Doric Column and the deepest lake in the United States.

Private Sector Jobs

It’s important to note that although some of the positions you might find in the private sector are very similar to that of the federal government, there are hundreds more positions that you can find in the private sector that aren’t within the range of the government jobs.

Most private sector jobs are in the service industry, and they usually either provide a service to the visitors of the park in some way or in servicing the park itself. For instance, if you are interested in servicing the visitors of the park you can choose from jobs in restaurants and gift shops or you can choose to be a guide for activities like horseback riding and rafting. All of these types of jobs are part of the private sector within the NPS. If your interest lies in servicing the park, jobs would include trail maintenance and the re-planting of trees.

Private Sector Employers

There are many different employers operating in and around state and national parks. We profile many of them in our job center. The biggest companies hire thousands of workers for jobs that start in May and end in late September. These agencies make looking for work in some parks very easy because…there are more jobs than people to fill them. There are also small private activity operators that hire seasonal guides for tours that they run in the parks. In the western states, in particular, you might look into jobs with dude ranches.

Ranch jobs include helping with any type of service that might be provided to guests, such as cooking, cleaning, doing massages, hunting, fishing and bird watching.

In addition, there are private contractor positions such as maintenance jobs for park roads and campgrounds, and heavy equipment operator jobs.

Benefits of Choosing the Private Sector

If you are looking for a seasonal position that will get you out of the rat race and into the peacefulness of nature, there are many benefits to choosing the private sector over the government. The biggest benefit is how easy the application process is and the lower level of requirements that are needed to fill the positions. Other benefits include the variety of positions available, being able to work so closely with visitors, and more flexibility with work schedules, deadlines and rules. In addition, the positions aren’t as competitive and many people get jobs in the park where they want to work the first time they apply.

Did You Know? National park areas aren’t just for wild animals and beautiful scenery. Alcatraz prison and an old leper colony are also part of the national park system.

Quick Summary:

  • The private sector offers an alternative to people who want to work in the parks system, but don’t want to work for the government.
  • One of the biggest benefits of choosing the private sector is the ease of the application process.
  • Most all private sector jobs are service-oriented in some way.
  • Private agencies make looking for and applying for jobs in the private sector very easy.
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box in terms of jobs that might be available within the private sector. It’s much more diverse than people realize.


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