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Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Why should I be in this major instead of one in a forestry, fisheries and wildlife or environmental studies program?

    National Mall and the Washington Monument Our curriculum is designed to help you develop skills to manage public parks and conservation areas—that is all we do. Our graduating students can actually run a park because they have developed skill sets related to the management of public parks. Our curriculum is visitor and park management centered, while most other curriculums only address biophysical resources and their management. Also, because we address the management of cultural and historic resources along with biological resources in parks, our students have a broader set of skills than students coming out of environmentally-oriented programs. Employers readily recognize the breadth and administrative skills of our students. Unlike other majors, we teach both the administrative skills and the resource knowledge necessary for a career in park and conservation area management.

    Our program is the only one at Clemson University that is accredited by the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA). Our curriculum is co-designed with an advisory board of park management professionals and is structured around NRPA curriculum standards. Clemson's PCAM program is widely recognized by professionals and other university faculty as one of the top programs in the U.S.

  • How are the job opportunities in park management?

    Clemson University's PCAM program is recognized regionally and nationally as a premier program in public lands management. In the last 10 years, job opportunities have been excellent. Entry-level jobs have been readily available to those who have a college degree and seasonal work experiences. Land management agencies regularly contact us to distribute information about internships, seasonal and permanent job opportunities to our students. Students receive a periodic e-mail from the PCAM faculty with notices of job opportunities around the country.

    Besides positions as park rangers in local, regional, state and national parks, our graduates have obtained positions as game wardens, recreation planners, law enforcement officers, educators at botanic gardens, historic interpreters and even zoo keepers. Several students have advanced to law school to study park policy. Below are a few examples of our PCAM graduates, the work that they've gone on to do and what they have to say about the PCAM program:

    Matt Holly Holly works at Yosemite National Park as a public information clerk. With respect to his Clemson education, he contends that the park and conservation area management program prepared him to deal with the issues and controversies surrounding parks, interest groups and other organizations. He was recently featured in Scientific America. He gave a talk on "Yosemite's climate: Past...and Future?" This is a rare and relatively new occurrence as a ranger program focusing exclusively on how one of the jewels of America's national parks system is responding to a changing climate.

    Jonathan IveyJonathan Ivy is an education programs instructor at the South Carolina Aquarium. He said that the PCAM program did an incredible job preparing him for his career. His professors, Rob Bixler in particular, helped him prepare for the professional world.

    Phil GainesPhil Gaines is the director of South Carolina State Parks. He said that the PCAM program prepared him with the academic part of park management, communicating both orally and in writing, theory and management practices, and certainly, but perhaps most importantly, by becoming part of the Clemson Family, which is always connected to a University and a faculty that serves beyond the day of graduation.

    Betty A. MathewsBetty Mathews is a forest supervisor at the Prescott National Forest in Prescott, Arizona. She feels that her time at Clemson prepared her to be a professional land manager. She said that Clemson’s flexible curriculum allowed her to take the courses she needed to work for a land management agency. In addition, the internship requirement helped her decide to work for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service. 

    Carin VadalaCarin Vadala is an outdoor recreation planner with the National Park Service in Alaska. She has had the opportunity to work at places such as Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park and Preserve. She feels that the skills she learned during her time at Clemson were directly transferrable to her professional career working with different parks.

    Austin Zuniga BrinkerAustin Zuniga Brinker is an assistant manager at the Cooper River Marina in Charleston, S.C. He said that the PCAM program presented issues and their complexities that he encounters while working in the field.

  • I am interested in outdoor/adventure programming. Is this the right curriculum for me?

    Bike mounted rangers are one of the trendiest special function teams in the state park service. Click picture to read more>>

    Yes and no. Our curriculum is taught from the perspective of the manager of public parks and conservation areas. We do address the practical and ethical issues of how parks work with organizations that provide adventure programming or activities, and how to partner with these groups to deliver quality experiences and minimize impacts to the resource. While we do not prepare students in PCAM to lead adventure programs, some of our graduates do find jobs in this role.

    We encourage those interested in outdoor/adventure programming to consider PCAM as an alternative career. In the past, we have designated special courses of study for individual students interested in adventure/outdoor programming that include a semester at another universities to obtain coursework based around National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) curriculum. This coursework can count toward the student's required course hours.

  • What are typical salaries for entry-level park management positions?

    Children interacting with a park ranger.

    In the last five years, our students have been offered positions with salaries ranging from $19,000 to $47,000. Most positions have been in the range of $25,000 to $35,000. Many park positions include housing and government benefits which are worth $5,000 to $10,000 more a year.

  • I want to become a law enforcement park ranger. Is this the right curriculum for me?

    United States Park Police Badge

    Yes. There is a high demand for law enforcement officers (LEO) in public parks and conservation areas. Our program provides a strong foundation for becoming an effective LEO who interacts with visitors and park managers. Students interested in working with the National Park Service, will want to plan to spend one semester at one of the schools listed at this website. This coursework can count toward your required course hours.

  • What are the classes I have to take?

    Please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog for the most up-to-date park and conservation area management course listings.

  • Should I visit Clemson before applying to the program?

    Tillman Hall, Clemson University

    We are happy to have you visit Clemson and our faculty, but a visit is not a requirement for admission.