The Icelandic Ranger’s Course became fully booked just two minutes after it opened for registration yesterday morning. 36 places were offered on the course, which is due to take place during a four-week period in February.
Rangers operate in various national parks and nature reserves in Iceland. They are responsible for providing tourists with necessary information, as well as taking care of maintenance in the area. Rangers are usually employed only during the summer season.
According to Kristín Ósk Jónasdóttir, a specialist at the Environment Agency of Iceland, who has overseen the course for the past few years, the course is increasingly drawing a larger attendance.
“Last year, the course filled up four minutes after it opened for registration. Which means that it happened 100% more quickly this year,” she jokes.
She says that less than five years ago, registration for the course remained open for a month or so before filling up. But what explains this sudden increase in applications?
“I think environmental awareness is increasing amongst Icelanders. They appreciate nature more than they used to and realise the importance of environmental protection.” She adds that camping and hiking is more popular in Iceland than ever. “The job combines outdoor activities and nature preservation, which seems to appeal to a lot of people.”
Landing a job as a ranger is not guaranteed upon completing a Ranger Course. However, those who have done the course have priority over other applicants. “There has not been a problem filling vacant posts for the past years,” Jónasdóttir says. She adds that rangers are a very diverse group of people, both in terms of gender, age and background. “We have even had people with PhDs working for us as rangers,” she says.
The Icelandic Ranger’s Course takes place once a year, so those who did not make it this time will have to wait another year. Jónasdóttir says it is a pity that the agency cannot accept everyone who is interested in joining the course. “The applicants are selected by a computer program on a first come, first served basis,” she says.
She emphasises that some universities offer similar courses to students of geology, tourism, biology and geography.