Careers in Wildland Fire
Real Jobs, Real People
“In this position, you will be challenged mentally and physically. It betters you as a person by giving you leadership skills, building your arena in fitness and mental strength as well as being paid to travel. It’s a dynamic world in fire and it’s very rewarding.”
Shilo Springstead, Forest Training Officer in Pacific Southwest Region 5 (California).
- What to Expect
Wildland firefighters may be required to work long hours in challenging and changing conditions, such as high temperatures and steep terrain. A career in wildland fire has many rewards, including the opportunity to work in some of the most beautiful places in the country and create friendships that last a lifetime.
Challenge yourself to new limits, join the Forest Service men and women who serve to protect millions of acres within our national forests, our communities, and our natural resources.
Interested applicants are reminded to review the application deadlines noted in the announcement. Employment start dates will vary.
Watch our wildland fire videos and get inspired to make a difference.
- Why Fire?
Here is a list of possible benefits. Eligibility depends on your position, length of employment, and whether your job is full-time, part-time, intermittent, or seasonal.
- Locations available nationwide
- Career advancement opportunities
- Overtime opportunities. Hazard Pay, and Bonuses
- Paid Holidays
- Medical, vision, and dental plans
- Flexible spending accounts
- Life insurance
- Wellness program
- Paid travel for work
- Retirement and Thrift Savings Plan
- Paid training and educational opportunities (locally and nationally)
- Housing stipend (if available)
- Flexible, Seasonal, or Year-Round Schedule Opportunities
- Eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Military retirement and other federal employment buy-back
- Comradery and unique job experiences
The Forest Service employs approximately 10,000 personnel annually who serve in various positions within our wildland fire program. Positions include wildland firefighter, dispatcher, prevention technician, fuels management, and more.
Wildland Firefighters – Our firefighters are involved with wildland fire suppression/ management/control and perform this work on an engine, as a member of a helitack crew, or on a handcrew.
Engine Crews – These firefighters drive engines to fire locations, frequently via unimproved roads, and position engines in appropriate locations, considering the safety of the crew and equipment and how the equipment can best be used in control and mop-up operations. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician, Lead Forestry Technician (AFEO), Forestry Technician (FEO), Supervisory Forestry Technician (SFEO).
Helitack Crews – These firefighters are transported by helicopters to wildfires. They provide initial attack, facilitate arrival of additional personnel, and deploy the helicopter water bucket.USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician (Helitack), Forestry Technician.
Handcrews – These firefighters are part of an organized crew of 20 people that utilize a variety of specialized tools, equipment, and techniques to actively suppress wildfires. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician, Lead Forestry Technician (Hotshot/Handcrew), Supervisory Forestry Technician (Handcrew).
Fire Equipment/Dozer Operators – These firefighters operate fire equipment, including tracked vehicles like dozers, to actively suppress wildfires. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Engineering Equipment Operator (Fire), Forestry Technician.
Wildland Fire Modules – These are highly-skilled and versatile fire crews that provide technical- and ecological-based expertise in the areas of prescribed fire and wildfire response. This includes long-term planning, ignitions, holding, suppression, hazard fuels reduction, and fire effect monitoring, with an emphasis on fire fulfilling natural and historic roles to meet resource and management objectives.
Hotshot Crews – These intensively-trained, organized fire crews travel throughout the country to suppress wildfires. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician, Supervisory Forestry Technician (IHC Assistant Manager), Forestry Technician (IHC Squad Leader), Supervisory Forestry Technician (IHC Superintendent).
Smokejumpers – These highly-trained, experienced firefighters parachute from airplanes to provide quick initial attack on wildland fires in remote areas. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician (Smokejumper), Forestry Technician.
Rapellers – These firefighters with advanced training rappel from a hovering helicopter for rapid incident response to wildland fires. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician.
- Fire Prevention Specialists – Our fire prevention specialists connect with the public and local partners to spread awareness on how to prevent human-caused wildfire. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician, Forestry Technician (Prevention), Supervisory Forestry Technician (Prevention).
Fuels Management and Fire Planning, Analysis, and Ecology Positions
Fuels Technicians – Our fuels technicians gather data about fuel quantity and conditions, using firefighting skills to implement prescribed fire and mechanical thinning treatments that improve current vegetation conditions while reducing flammable materials that fuel wildfires. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician (Fuels).
Fuels Specialists – Fuels specialists are responsible for working with other resource specialists and partners to plan for the treatment of fuels using fire, mechanical, and chemical methods. They write environmental analyses, burn plans, and other technical documents, as well as oversee implementation. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Fire Management Specialist (Prescribed Fire/Fuels), Supervisory Fire Management Specialist (Prescribed Fire & Fuels).
Fire Planners & Fire Analysts – Fire planners and fire analysts take data gathered from the field and run it through advanced computer models that predict fire behavior. Using this information, they evaluate fire response and fuel treatment options, then create fire management plans that help return forests to a healthy state while protecting important resources and assets. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Fire Management Specialist (Fuels Planner), Fire Management Specialist (Fire Planner), Fire Management Specialist (Fire Analyst).
Fire Ecologists – Fire ecologists study the effects of fire on plant, animal, and insect species to better understand the positive and negative impacts of fire on the natural environment. They write environmental analyses, assist with high-level unit planning, and support implementation with modern science. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Ecologist (Fire).
Aviation Positions – Our aviation positions include work at our retardant bases and aviation leadership positions.
Retardant Bases – Personnel that mobilizes and loads aircraft with fire retardant, as well as provide safety and incident information to pilots for aerial retardant delivery. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician (Airtanker Base).
Aviation Leadership – Personnel who manage aircraft resources, which are critical in managing wildland fire from the sky. These positions include airtanker base, helicopter, and unit aviation management. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Supervisory Forestry Technician (Helitack), Supervisory Forestry Technician (Airtanker Base), Forest Aviation Officer.
Other Essential Wildland Fire Positions
- Dispatchers – Our dispatchers receive reports of wildfire and mobilize firefighters in response. Dispatchers also provide supplies and equipment to further support firefighters during a wildfire incident. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician (Fire Dispatch), Forestry Technician (Dispatch), Dispatch Center Manager, Fire Logistics Dispatcher.
Incident Business Management – Personnel working in this area are responsible for the acquisition, management, and coordination of finance, procurement, and personnel records, associated with fire and other natural disaster operations supported by the Forest Service. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Administrative Support Assistant, Support Services Specialist.
Fire Training – Personnel working in this area are responsible for implementing and coordinating wildland fire training, incident management training, and workforce development programs. USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Forestry Technician, Forest Fire Training Center Manager, Training and Workforce Development.
Warehouse/Cache Positions – Personnel working in this area provide fire supplies and equipment support to incidents.USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Materials Handler, Supply Technician, Materials Handler Supervisor, Materials Handler Leader, Supply Management Specialist.
Fire Program Managers – Our fire program managers are responsible for all fire activities, aviation activities, and personnel within their area. Significant fire experience and training is crucial for success in these positions.USAJOBS keywords for these positions include Supervisory Forestry Technician, District/Zone Fire Management Officer, Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer, Fire Director.
Further opportunities to discover Forest Service vacancies
Positions Available Nationwide
Visit your local Forest Service website for more information including location information and application dates.
- Northern Region (R1)
- Rocky Mountain Region (R2)
- Southwestern Region (R3)
- Intermountain Region (R4)
- Pacific Southwest Region (R5)
- Pacific Northwest Region (R6)
- Southern Region (R8)
- Eastern Region (R9)
- Alaska Region (R10)
Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Program
Start your career as a wildland firefighter apprentice. Learn more about the program and apply August-October.
- Frequently Asked Questions about becoming a Forest Service wildland firefighter.
- Remember to attach all required documentation to be considered for the position(s).
- Apply for a Forest Service Job – has helpful information to help you through the application process.
- Interagency Fire Program Management Standard (IFPM) is a collaborative effort between the Forest Service and the Department of Interior wildland bureaus to establish minimum qualification standards for key positions in Fire and Aviation Management (FAM). In addition, the Forest Service implemented an agency addendum to IFPM called the Forest Service Fire Program Management Standard (FS-FPM).
Explore usajobs.gov for available Forest Service wildland firefighting positions.
Our Apply for a Forest Service Job webpage has additional helpful information to guide you through the application process.
The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.