Live the Parks Life as a Ranger or Lifeguard: Now Recruiting! Tips for Applying to the State Park Peace Officer Academy


Do you love working in the outdoors? Are you passionate about helping protect the natural, cultural and historic resources as well as protecting the safety of the public? California State Parks invites you to “Live the Parks Life” as a ranger or lifeguard in the nation’s largest state park system. We are now accepting applications for the 2020 State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Academy. All applicants must submit an application by Monday, June 3, 2019, to be considered for the cadet academy.

For more than 150 years, rangers and lifeguards have worked closely with the state’s network of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to protect visitors to California’s parks. In addition to protecting the safety of our visitors, rangers and lifeguards also protect the natural, cultural and historic resources preserved for future generations. Whether patrolling in desert landscapes, lakes, among wildlife and wildflowers, museums, or in historic landmarks, it is truly a unique experience to work for California State Parks.

The SPPO Cadet Classification is the entry and training level for men and women interested in a law enforcement career. The position is one of public service that can make a difference every day.

The first step in the process for applying to the cadet academy is filling out a state application (STD 678). State Park’s Certification Unit will screen the information you provide in this document to determine whether you meet the minimum qualifications. It is your first opportunity to make a good impression. The details on your application help tell your story. You want to be thorough and accurate to ensure acceptance of your application.

If you are not sure how to fill out the applications, California State Park’s Workforce Planning and Recruitment Office can assist you.

Below are some helpful tips to begin your application process:

Tips for Completing a Successful STD 678 Application

  1. Before you start, make sure you have all your documentation ready. Some of the needed documentation includes a list of your work or volunteer experience, contact information of your current and former supervisors, your driver’s license number, and your academic transcripts. Collecting this information may take some time, but preparation is the best way to avoid a stressful experience.
  2. On the application, enter your full name and correct mailing address. This sounds like a no-brainer, but State Parks Certification Unit will send all notifications on the status of your application and the details about the next step in the process to the address you provide. If you move during the process, be sure to contact the Certification Unit as soon as possible.
  3. The Certification Unit reviews hundreds of applications every day, enter the correct exam title (State Park Peace Officer Cadet) and exam code (9PR08) in the provided space to avoid misplacement.
  4. Answer questions #10 and #11 on the application. Age and possession of a valid driver’s license are directly related to the minimum requirements.
  5. Indicate any degrees you have under the Education section of the application. List all of your completed courses and the dates of completion in the provided space if you do not have a degree. You may combine credits from any accredited college or university, including technical schools. Accreditation information available online at the Database for Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
  6. Bonus! If you have a certificate, add it under the License/Certification section of the application.
  7. Under Employment History, describe any work experience, including volunteer, internships or research projects you may have worked at while in college. Experience with work that relates to parks, recreation programs, safety, protection, security or helping others are excellent examples of the experience the Certification Unit is looking for.
  8. Submit a cover letter and resume with your application. This will help you describe experience or knowledge that can help you stand out.
  9. Remember to sign and date your application.
  10. Review your application for thoroughness and accuracy, including spelling. Mail your completed application to California State Parks, with a copy of your transcripts and the Criminal Record Supplemental Questionnaire, no later than June 3, 2019.

Examples of the Application STD 678 and Criminal Record Supplemental Questionnaire

Tips for a Successful Candidate

  1. Be patient! The process is about 18 months before you start the academy. While this may seem like a significant amount of time, State Park Peace Officers are part of an elite group of men and women and receive special training unique to other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.
  2. Gain some insight from our rangers and lifeguards by requesting a ride-along. Our peace officers can show you how they “Live the Parks Life”. They are eager to share their knowledge about the cadet academy and the hiring process. Schedule your ride-along by contacting the Workforce Planning and Recruitment Office.
  3. Volunteer at a park. Volunteering at a park will give you valuable experience in park operations. Connect with us to find out how you can become a volunteer.

Veterans’ Preference

Thank you for your service. The State of California manages an assistance program dubbed Veterans’ Preference, for military benefits for veterans who seek employment with the state. The program allows qualified veterans who receive a passing score on state exams to receive a certified RANK 1. California State Parks honors this program. If you are a veteran, consider applying for the Veterans’ Preference for Examinations. Click here to download the form.

We are excited for the opportunity to reach potential candidates who are reflective of California’s diverse population. We look forward to you joining the State Parks Family!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s