There have been widespread calls for rangers to be professionalized, culminating in the recommendation for “full professionalization” at the 2019 World Ranger Congress, led by the International Ranger Federation. There have, however, been no consistent definitions of what this process should involve for rangers or what constitutes a professional ranger. We examine here eight widely acknowledged elements of existing professions and review how they apply to the current ranger occupation. These are (1) A recognized sector; (2) Competences and standards measuring professionalism; (3) Certified training and learning; (4) Remuneration, rights, and working conditions; (5) Standards of ethics and conduct; (6) Personal commitment and motivation; (7) Professional organizations and employers; and (8) Professional representative bodies. Overall, while there are examples of progress in all eight aspects of professionalization, there has been no strategic, consistent, and coordinated program for professionalizing the sector. Across much of the world, the occupation is inadequately recognized, poorly resourced and supported, and falling far short of being a respected and appreciated profession. We offer a range of recommendations for building a global professional framework that can be adapted to and adopted at the national and organizational levels to develop a ranger sector that is ready to meet the growing coverage of protected and conserved areas, the diversification of the ranger workforce, and the increasingly complex demands of the work.