Serving as an entry-level firefighter is just one way to begin a rewarding career in wildland fire management.
Just as crucial as firefighters, there are many fire response, management and support positions that all work together to protect the lands held in trust for the Tribes we serve.
Read on to learn about the different types of careers in wildland fire or scroll down to find career opportunities and job resources.
Tribal Versus Federal Employment
The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides policy, oversight, and financial support to all fire management activities in Indian Country.
Individual fire management programs are managed by either the Bureau of Indian Affairs or by the Tribe, depending on the reservation.
Additionally, in certain areas the fire management programs for American Indian or Alaska Native communities are managed by another federal agency or the state. For example, the fire management programs for protecting Alaska Native land in Alaska is managed by the Alaska Fire Service, a Bureau of Land Management program.
When managed by the BIA, personnel are federally employed. When managed by the Tribe, personnel are employed by the Tribe.
Wages, retirement benefits and job satisfaction are comparable, regardless of the employer.
Careers in Wildland Fire Management
Administrative positions within wildland fire management provide support to the overall national fire program and direction in addition to overseeing budget.
Positions include the fire director, assistant fire director, fire program liaison, budget and finance staff, contracting, administrative officer, public affairs staff, and administrative support staff such as secretaries, administrative assistants, and property management.
Managing excess fuels in our national wildlands is one of the biggest challenges faced by federal agencies.
Fuels management technicians are the “doers” of fuels management, spending much of their time implementing treatments in the field. They develop long-term strategies to treat fuels using fire, mechanical and chemical methods. They also write environmental analyses, burn plans and other technical documents, and then oversee their implementation. Fuels management specialists typically have college degrees or GS-401-qualifying education.
Learn more on our Fuels Management page.
Operations personnel usually begin their careers as seasonal crewmembers on hand, engine, and helitack crews. Learn more on our Hand Crews, Interagency Hotshot Crews, and National Aviation Office pages.
Employees who possess considerable knowledge in operations may hold year-round positions and manage all unit-level operations as Wildland Fire Operations Specialists.
These jobs generally do not require formal education below the position of Wildland Fire Operations Specialist.
If analytical skills are a strength, fire management planning can be a rewarding career. Fire management planners formulate long-term plans and environmental analyses for projects and unit fire program management activities while using a wide range of processes, applications and tools. In addition to preparing for wildland fire responses, fire planners also ensure credible and consistent fire planning processes and products are available to support the goals and objectives of all wildland fire management departments.
Personnel with degrees in natural resource management, forestry, wildlife biology and range management often occupy fire management planning positions.
During fire season, post-wildfire recovery specialists recommend and implement short-term emergency measures to protect natural and human resources immediately after a wildfire. They also develop long-term strategies to help areas impacted by severe wildfire transition into restored landscapes. Outside of fire season, these specialists develop, manage and assist in post-wildfire recovery plans.
These positions usually require a degree in biology, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry or related disciplines.
Learn more on our Post-Wildfire Recovery page.
Prevention and Education
Wildfire prevention through public outreach, education and collaboration is as important as putting out fires.
Wildfire prevention specialists and educators work with wildland-urban homeowners to develop defensible space plans to help prevent wildfire from burning down homes and other valuable resources.
Learn more on the Wildfire Prevention page.