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Forest Firefighter

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What is a Forest Firefighter?

Forest Firefighter Example Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Life As a Forest Firefighter

  • Operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses.
  • Fell trees, cut and clear brush, and dig trenches to create firelines, using axes, chainsaws, or shovels.
  • Test and maintain tools, equipment, jump gear, and parachutes to ensure readiness for fire suppression activities.
  • Perform forest maintenance and improvement tasks, such as cutting brush, planting trees, building trails, and marking timber.
  • Orient self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collect supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.
  • Serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager.

Forest Firefighter Required Skills

These are the skills Forest Firefighters say are the most useful in their careers:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Types of Forest Firefighter Jobs

  • Rescue Worker
  • Fire Fighter
  • Forestry Fire Aid
  • Wildland Fire Fighter Specialist
  • On-Scene Supporter

Is There Going to be Demand for Forest Firefighters?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 327,300 jobs in the United States for Forest Firefighter. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 7.2% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 23,600 new jobs for Forest Firefighter by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 24,300 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Forest Firefighter are Utah, Texas, and Nevada. Watch out if you plan on working in New Jersey, Maryland, or Alaska. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Forest Firefighter Make?

The typical yearly salary for Forest Firefighters is somewhere between $25,170 and $88,920.


Forest Firefighters who work in New York, New Jersey, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Forest Firefighters in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $41,740
Alaska $51,110
Arizona $45,150
Arkansas $37,800
California $81,580
Colorado $61,160
Connecticut $63,630
Delaware $48,800
Florida $53,340
Georgia $38,060
Hawaii $62,670
Idaho $40,490
Illinois $56,710
Indiana $49,460
Iowa $43,970
Kansas $37,930
Kentucky $33,520
Louisiana $30,600
Maine $36,750
Maryland $61,780
Massachusetts $60,080
Michigan $45,440
Minnesota $37,690
Mississippi $30,370
Missouri $51,100
Montana $49,230
Nebraska $47,880
Nevada $66,830
New Hampshire $48,640
New Jersey $76,530
New Mexico $36,590
New York $73,710
North Carolina $35,500
North Dakota $42,980
Ohio $46,310
Oklahoma $43,450
Oregon $66,330
Pennsylvania $56,090
Rhode Island $55,240
South Carolina $36,300
South Dakota $44,710
Tennessee $40,280
Texas $52,520
Utah $37,960
Vermont $37,070
Virginia $51,510
Washington $73,850
West Virginia $36,820
Wisconsin $40,310
Wyoming $43,810

What Tools & Technology do Forest Firefighters Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Forest Firefighters:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • Fire incident reporting systems

How to Become a Forest Firefighter

Education needed to be a Forest Firefighter:


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where Forest Firefighters Are Employed


The table below shows the approximate number of Forest Firefighters employed by various industries.


Similar Careers

Career changers with experience as a Forest Firefighter sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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