Are you looking for a unique, personally enriching employment opportunity? One job that many people never consider is a career as a wildland firefighter. Read on to learn more about this position and the benefits of pursuing employment.
There are two types of wildland firefighter classifications regarding hourly requirements—seasonals and permanents. Both versions of employment are technically seasonal in that all firefighters only work part of the year. However, seasonals often have more flexible schedules, working minimal hours each week throughout the summer.
Permanents are active for long stretches of time, sometimes working for 26 weeks straight and taking 26 weeks off for rest. Regardless, both of these work lifestyles are appealing to those looking for a nontraditional schedule. You might work 16-hour days here and there, but you also have plenty of time to pursue other careers and hobbies or simply relax during the off-season.
Multiple Career Paths
The best part about pursuing a career as a wildland firefighter is the vast number of paths you can take along the way. There is a vast array of roles within the industry, each offering something unique and engaging. If you’re truly looking for action, consider applying for a smokejumper position in which you’re the first line of attack and tasked with skydiving into wildfires. Rappelling is another exciting employment opportunity that involves rapid incident response by way of helicopters.
Other front-of-the-line positions include hotshot crews, hand crews, helitack work, and fire modules. Or you might prefer a more relaxed, less action-packed career. If so, you can work as a fire prevention specialist who partners with the community to create a safer wildland environment for everyone. No matter your desires, there’s an opportunity for you as a wildland firefighter.
Ultimately, many wildland firefighters don’t do this line of work for the money. For most of these individuals, the most rewarding aspect of their careers is the ability to protect residents and ecosystems from devastating fires. The work they provide by protecting surrounding communities and the earth is invaluable, and that feeling of pride makes the job worth all the labor. Plus, having wildlands as your primary “office” is very appealing if you’re into the outdoors!
And if you are concerned about average salaries, rest assured that you can make a suitable living. Most wildland firefighters make around $35,000 a year, with firefighters in more fire-prone areas, such as San Francisco, can make upward of $49,000 a year.
There are countless reasons why you should consider a career as a wildland firefighter, as the financial and personal rewards can provide you with a preferred lifestyle overall! Requirements for this job typically involve passing various physical tests and possessing a relevant area of study, like forestry, wildlife management, or agriculture. However, you don’t always need a college degree to get hired in one of these positions.