SACRAMENTO, Calif. March 29, 2021 – California State Parks invites individuals to “Live the Parks Life” as rangers and lifeguards in the nation’s largest state park system. 

Left: State Park Peace Officer (SPPO) Ranger Collin Bliese (left) graduates from California State Parks’ Basic Visitor Services Training (BVST42) Academy. Middle: BVST45 Academy during a training session. Right: SPPO Lifeguard Britney Sanchez graduates from BVST42 as Division Chief Brian Ketterer badges her.

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 State Park System and surrounding communities. The rangers and lifeguards provide not only public safety law enforcement and aquatic rescue services, but they also provide public education through interpretation and protect natural and cultural resources. Their offices are located in or near beaches, deserts, lakes, historic landmarks and state vehicular recreation areas. 

“I am proud to lead a department that continues to adapt, problem solve and deliver critical services for the visiting public even during a worldwide pandemic,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “Collectively we are helping keep people safe and the State Park System healthy. I invite you to ‘Live the Parks Life’ and make a long-lasting impact on the lives of Californians and the great outdoors.  

The 2022 State Park Peace Officer Cadet Academy continues to operate, in person, under new COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

Applications for the academy opens Thursday, April 1, 2021. All interested applicants must mail an official state application by Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

Successful applicants will be sent notification to attend the eight-month long Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified law enforcement academy. 

The academy instruction prepares cadets physically, mentally, and emotionally to enter the workforce as a ranger or lifeguard. Cadets will learn how to assist visitors, run interpretive programs, and actively protect park resources. Training also includes how to conduct investigations, make physical arrests, use firearms, and perform emergency responses. 

The entire selection process for becoming a ranger or lifeguard takes 15 to 18 months. The first step in the selection/examination process is to mail an application during the open application period. The application is used to determine if the candidate meets the minimum qualifications for admission into the examination, which consists of the POST Entry Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB) written exam. This exam is used to admit the candidate into the next phases of the selection process which include the Physical Agility Test (PAT), background investigation, oral interview, and the medical and psychological evaluations. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the SPPO Cadet Academy: 

  • What are some of the COVID-19 safety procedures being taken at the academy to assure the safety of cadets? 

The SPPO Cadet Academy complies with all California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH), Butte County, and Butte Community College COVID-19 safety procedures including, but not limited to, social distancing, adjusting break times, providing masks, additional cleaning routines, education, health checks, signage, and more. Academy staff are committed to providing a safe learning environment for future rangers and lifeguards while protecting the health and safety of the entire community.  

  • What is the age minimum and age maximum to apply?  
    Candidates must be at least 18 years of age to become a peace officer. State Park Peace Officer mandatory retirement age is 65 years, but there is no maximum application age. 
  • I have not completed two years of college yet. Can I still apply while I am still taking classes?  
    Candidates may be enrolled in college at the time of application but must have at least 21 units of general education credits satisfying general education curriculum standards with courses (which may include courses in natural science, social science, mathematics, language, and humanities). By the time of appointment, a candidate must have completed 60 semester units of study at a state-accredited college or university. A degree in park administration, natural sciences, social sciences, law enforcement or a related field is desirable.  
  • Where is the Cadet Academy located?  
    Most cadets attend training at Butte College Law Enforcement Academy (Butte County). However, the department may utilize several academy sites, including Mott Training Center at Asilomar in Pacific Grove; South Bay Regional Public Safety Academy at Fort Ord in Monterey; and the Ben Clark Law Enforcement Training facility in Riverside. It is at the department’s discretion to determine an academy location for each class. 
  • Do I get paid while at the academy?  
    Yes. Cadets earn a salary; at this time the monthly salary range is $3,741 to $5,045. Most cadets start at the low end of the range unless they are a current state employee with a salary within the range. 

To hire a workforce reflective of California’s diverse population, California State Parks is committed to ensuring equal access and connecting all job seekers to opportunities through fair hiring and employment practices. For more information on the cadet academy, minimum qualifications, frequently asked questions, and a timeline of the recruitment cycle, please visit

Please send questions regarding other employment opportunities at California State Parks to the Workforce Planning and Recruitment Office at