Monday, January 13, 2014
Archimedes commented on my previous post asking if I was done being a Park Ranger. The answer is, "probably, for now."
Sadly, the Park Service isn't a viable career for most people starting out now. There are virtually no real jobs, even for people who have advanced degrees in park management and other programs designed to prepare them for park positions. If you want to be in the Park Service, you basically have to have online work at the same time to beef up the salary and fill in the employment gaps. The vast majority of positions are 6-month seasonal jobs with no benefits and no competitive advantage for rehire the next year. Having done the job before doesn't really make it any more likely that you'll get that job again, no matter how well you did it (unless your supervisor really wants you back and convinces the hiring manager to write some weirdly specific detail into the announcement. Sometimes you'll see a qualification survey that asks, "Have you ever independently made the decision to close the XYZ trail in ABC park due to bear activity during a snowfall?") And veterans get extra "points" in the hiring qualification system, so if there's a vet who has close to the same qualifications you do, s/he gets the job if she wants it. There are a lot of vets who want jobs in the Park Service.
But I haven't given up. I figure I'll take a job for a year or two to beef up my financial status, maybe do some online stuff on the side for extra cash, and then do another season or two in the Park Service. I finally got my Ranger hat, so I need to work for the Park Service again to get some use out of it!
Seriously, though, this is one more symptom of what I think is wrong with our country. There is no respect or demand for people who make things, people who know things, or people who invent things. All of the economic power goes to people who already own things, or people who sell things. I can't get a job as a Park Ranger teaching people how to be safe or helping to preserve the park's resources. I can get jobs selling and marketing books and merchandise with pictures of the parks. I also work in the publishing industry, where the people who market textbooks and educational computer programs have permanent jobs with salaries in the mid six figures, while the people who write those materials are lucky to make the mid five figures-- more likely, they're freelancers being paid by the page, with no benefits and no job security at all. Those people who were talking about "the makers and the takers" had it backward. The makers-- the ones who actually build or create things-- have nothing. The takers-- the ones who sell other people's products and keep the profits from things they had no part in creating-- are making a killing and running the show.