National Park Service

  www.nps.gov
  www.nps.gov

National Park Service Reviews

Updated December 2, 2014
Updated December 2, 2014
113 Reviews
3.5
113 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis
Jonathan B. Jarvis
44 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You go to work in the most beautiful places in America (in 11 reviews)

  • The opportunity to work at some of the most amazing cultural and natural resources the United States has to offer (in 5 reviews)


Cons
  • Low pay, too many desk jockeys and not enough people on the front lines (in 8 reviews)

  • Limited full time opportunities, hires mostly seasonal in NYC, (in 7 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great Summer Job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vienna, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Vienna, VA

    I worked at National Park Service

    Pros

    -Great opportunity to work with the public
    -Hours are convenient (3pm-11pm ish) for college students
    -Sense of camaraderie among the staff

    The job comes in bursts. There will be an hour or two of hectic work, then some really slow hours, then another hectic frenzy.

    During emergency situations the job can be pretty crazy. It's great training for the workplace, though.

    Cons

    -As a government job, the onboarding process takes forever
    -About 75% of the people are really great, but the other 25% or so have no work ethic and you pull their weight

    As it is a concert venue, some patrons can be very intoxicated. And guess who has to put up with them?

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  2.  

    Good intentions, poor execution

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Biological Science Technician in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Biological Science Technician in Los Angeles, CA

    I worked at National Park Service full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    )) Close connection to the outdoors
    )) Human-level respect: Good support for time off for tough life events (birth, death, sickness).
    )) Training: There are a variety of online classes (GIS) and software (Rosetta) available to help you. There is also respect for learning, such that you will likely be given time to learn new skills on the job, as needed.

    Cons

    )) Sad culture: Most people join the NPS out of a desire to be of service. I certainly did. Unfortunately, the combination of constant funding shortages, bureaucratic red-tape, and poor leadership meant that most projects were severely overextended, to the point where success was unlikely. You will have some victories, some things to feel good about, but probably not as many as you expect, and maybe not enough to balance out the relatively low salaries.

    )) Unlikely career path: Budgets have shrunk 1%-10% for the past 10 years. This means that when people retire, their jobs often go with them. To get a permanent or long-term job, you will likely need to spend 2-10 years working seasonal positions with no benefits and (sometimes) frequent relocation. To land a leadership role, you will need lots of luck and determination.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get real. Most projects are severely overextended. Overextended projects generally do not achieve their goals. They are instead a waste of scarce resources, and give support to anti-government folks. You need to do triage. Shelve at least half of the current/ongoing projects, then reallocate those people/resources to the highest-priority projects. Rather than having most projects struggling in mediocrity or failure, and pretending that you are doing real good, reorganize so as to have a small number of honestly successful projects. Use these successful projects to prove the value of the NPS, win back public support for the value of public spaces, and then use that support to expand. Take off the rose-colored glasses, and get real.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Very enjoyable but maybe becoming a scarce job with too much work load.

    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Park Guide in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Park Guide in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Park Service as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    Work in some of the most beautiful places in the US, besides the big name places. The coworkers are great and truly want to protect the cultural and natural wonders of this country. If you enjoy having a variety of work and not the same thing day in and day out this is for you. Most visitors are there to have a good time and tend to be much more laid back than what I have seen working in other industries that deal with the general public on a regular basis. The National Park Service tends to be one of the more popular government agencies. I give a 4 star rating because these pros outweigh most of the cons I am about to list. Overall though I recommend this the park service if you enjoy being outside and can make it in.

    Cons

    If you don’t like being outside and getting exercise you may want to stop reading now. Being a government agency it is difficult to get long term employment, but worst most jobs are seasonal due to the lack of money the National Park Service gets compared to other government agencies. The money for the Park Service is ‘discretionary’ so Congress will cut funding often times. Plus park services on all levels from federal to the local level are being asked to do more with less resources (money and personnel) and the work load is increasing especially with the National Park Service not replacing jobs in its aging workforce, hence making for much more work for those left behind. Though not the first time things have been difficult the outlook is not looking great and hence why I am no longer employed with them and why I give a 4 star rating and not a 5 star rating. I sometimes feel that if it were not for the popularity of the National Park Service it would no longer exist. Also in some areas the National Park Service is seen as an enemy due to it being a federal government agency and is seen as government overreach and meddling, however this is something seen in certain local areas and I don’t think shows the majority of situations.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Work to get a better system set up to help your dedicated seasonals who wish to get full time employment those jobs! Part of the issue is funding and so to the ‘management’ that is members of Congress, hear from your constituents that these parks are generally very popular and need funding to be functional and to the most benefit to Americans and visitors from other countries alike. Get out into your parks more often! Sometimes the upper management doesn’t get out into their own park enough and like can happen anywhere else the management can get disconnected to what is happening “on the ground.”

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    America's Best Idea, Poor Organization Slow to Change, Archaic Culture

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at National Park Service

    Pros

    I have been with the National Park Service for 20 years and have the best job in the world. The type of work that I do is directly in line with my interests and education...when I get to do the work that I was hired to do. I whole-heartedly believe in the philosophy and mission of the agency to protect the nations culture, history, and wild places for future generations. I love my job.

    Cons

    The park-level culture of the agency has been in decline for a long time. Poor moral, terrible work-life balance, inability to effectively deal with problem employees, pay disparities with other agencies, etc. These problems have been well documented in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys.
    As a whole, the agency seems to be driven by a mostly middle-management that fails to acknowledge the changes in work force needs, position management, and employee development. The agency holds to the archaic idea of a seasonal workforce when in reality much of the workload requires specialized technical skills obtained through career ladder positions which don't exist. Every season I have extraordinary employees leave 1040 positions with no way of ever offering them permanent employment. You may see terms and phrases like "mission creep" and "punishing the competent" associated with the agency, and unfortunately most are true. Managing parks as centers for history, culture, biodiversity, science, etc has taken a back seat to administrative process and protecting the agency from litigation. It seems that the agency is losing some of it's best and brightest to retirement or other agencies, and lacks the ability or will to re-fill those positions in general, or with capable employees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The employees of the National Park Service are our most valuable asset. It sometimes takes a certain breed to do the work that we do, and providing a better, safe/healthy work environment and agency culture, and career pathways may solve retention and moral issues.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    it's ok

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at National Park Service full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    decent pay, usually nice people

    Cons

    no benefits to seasonal employees

  7.  

    Good experience, lack of growth and potential in certain areas

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Park Ranger in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Park Ranger in New York, NY

    I worked at National Park Service part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    This job allowed me to practice public speaking and was able to meet some amazing people

    Cons

    Very hard to get hired full time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Fulfilling and enjoyable

    Former Employee - Avian Ecology in Paterson, NJ
    Former Employee - Avian Ecology in Paterson, NJ

    I worked at National Park Service as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Ability to engage and interact with a lot of people. Helpful personnel

    Cons

    Government job and hard to get hired

  9.  

    Excellent flexibility in finding my own strengths and weaknesses

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Park Ranger
    Former Employee - Park Ranger

    I worked at National Park Service full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Interaction with the public and ability to make visitors' experience excellent

    Cons

    Often see furlough and salary/hiring freezes

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider promoting seasonal staff to full time positions, or helping them find them

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    An over-hyped job that's basically just average...

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at National Park Service

    Pros

    Many parks are quite gorgeous and you'll almost certainly get to see parts of the park that almost nobody else gets to see. You also get somewhat decent pay and benefits including all Federal holidays off, vacation time, sick leave, health insurance, and a retirement fund (Assuming you're not a seasonal employee).

    Cons

    Basically, it's just like any other job. People will ooooohh and aaaaahh when you tell them who you work for (even though they don't know what you do yet) but the job comes with the same pitfalls as any other: there's a lot of boring crap, a little bit of really cool stuff, and you'll never get paid what you feel you deserve. Jobs are diverse, and in many locations, so no park experience will ever be the same as any other. There's also intense competition, and the vast majority of positions are merely temporary.

    At the end of the day, don't treat the Park Service like your ultimate, cure-all dream job, chances are very good that what you think a Park Ranger does is quite a bit different than how it really is. Some employees swoon over being in a park, some are indifferent, and some just can't wait to leave.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen. Many, many of your employees feel that despite the continuous insistence that the Park Service is a "family", the thoughts and ideas of some employees are just no considered as important as others.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Great mission, great leadership, poor management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at National Park Service full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    You go to work in the most beautiful places in America. What more could you want?

    Cons

    Your managers are overworked, getting ready for retirement, veterans get shunned because they have preference. If I wanted to be treated as a second class citizen for serving my country, I'd move to ... well ... I can't think of anyplace else in the world where veterans are treated like second class employees by their peers. And the budget keeps getting cut with no one to replace the workforce when they retire. Do more with less is a way of life there.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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