Wildland Fire Career Path
What is the typical career path in wildland fire?
There is no standard way to advance in a wildland fire career, but there are a few common steps for those who want to progress in the field.
Please see the Fire Management Career Ladder which provides an overview of various jobs and a general range of years in a career in fire management.
- In the first four-to-eight years of their career, many firefighters work on wildland fire engines, handcrews, or in aviation or fuels. Progression from an entry-level firefighter to leadership responsibilities is possible during that time. Those kinds of experiences provide a solid background in operations, which is needed to move into an entry-level management position.
- During the next four-to-eight years, many wildland firefighters will continue to gain a diversity of experience, often by working in entry-level management jobs in suppression and fuels management. Some of those positions require a college degree in specified fields. The combination of experience and education provide the necessary depth of knowledge needed to move into a mid-level management position, with responsibilities for the oversight of an entire fire program at a local level. Often, these are the jobs that fire personnel choose to remain in for the rest of their careers.
- The next level is for those who want to move into regional, state or national-level management and leadership positions. Generally, you should have 15 to 20 years of varied experience to qualify for these positions.