Skip to content
Logo Careeronestop
careeronestop
your source for career exploration, training & jobs
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
A proud partner of the american job center network.

Occupation Profile

Learn details about any occupation including what you might do on the job, how much you might earn, and how much education or training you might need.

Get started by entering a keyword for a career, a job title, or a type of work in the box below. Then enter your location and click "Search". Or, click "List of Occupations" to select from a list of careers.

Forest Firefighters
Show More

Select items to add to your view

Overview


Employment


Wages

Education





Job Details






More Info


= not available for this occupation
Description: what do they do?
Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.
Also known as:
Fire Technician, Firefighter, Forest Fire Suppression Specialist, Wildland Firefighter, Fire Management Specialist, Forestry Fire Technician, Fire Rescue Technician, On-Scene Supporter, Fire Fighter, Hot Shot

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
00:00
00:00

    Transcript: Courage, strength, and a cool head under pressure are some of the most important qualities needed by firefighters. Firefighters control and put out fires, and respond to crisis situations where life and the environment are at risk. Firefighters enter burning buildings to extinguish fires and rescue people, sometimes carrying them. They connect hoses to hydrants, operate pumps, climb ladders, and use other tools to break through debris. The majority of calls they receive are for medical emergencies, so many firefighters also provide medical attention. Some firefighters clean up hazardous materials, such as oil spills and chemical accidents, while others are specially trained to control forest fires. Most firefighters work for local governments. Some work for federal and state governments, or at airports, chemical plants, and other industrial sites. Volunteer firefighters serve the same roles as paid firefighters and account for a large portion of the workforce in this field. Firefighters’ schedules are typically on duty at the fire station for 24 hours at a time, then off for 48 to 72 hours. Wildland firefighters may work for extended periods to get a forest fire under control. Firefighters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. They must wear heavy, hot protective gear. Firefighters typically need a high school diploma, valid driver’s license, and an emergency medical technician certification. Candidates must successfully complete interviews, written and physical fitness tests, fire academy training, and, once hired, they must pass random drug tests.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
North Carolina
14,980
2016 Employment
16,390
2026 Employment
9%
Percent change
1,160
Annual projected job openings
United States
332,400
2018 Employment
350,000
2028 Employment
5%
Percent change
25,000
Annual projected job openings
You’re seeing projected employment information for Firefighters because we don’t have information for Forest Firefighters.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Firefighters* in North Carolina
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
* You’re seeing wages for Firefighters because we don’t have information for Forest Firefighters.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationNorth CarolinaUnited States
10%$21,540$25,170
25%$25,550$33,720
Median$32,590$49,620
75%$43,590$67,100
90%$54,270$88,920


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Postsecondary certificate
  • No work experience
  • More than 1 year on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:
You’re seeing education information for Firefighters because we don’t have information for Forest Firefighters. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained
You’re seeing education information for Firefighters because we don’t have information for Forest Firefighters. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Administer first aid.
  • Rescue people from hazardous situations.
  • Request emergency personnel.
  • Locate fires or fire danger areas.
  • Patrol natural areas to ensure safety or enforce regulations.
  • Prepare hoses or water supplies to fight fires.
  • Maintain professional knowledge or certifications.
  • Attend training to learn new skills or update knowledge.
  • Maintain fire fighting tools or equipment.
  • Inspect equipment to ensure safety or proper functioning.
  • Operate firefighting equipment.
  • Train personnel to enhance job skills.
  • Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
  • Participate in physical training to maintain fitness.
  • Drive vehicles to transport individuals or equipment.
  • Protect property from fire or water damage.
  • Educate the public about fire safety or prevention.
  • Record information about environmental conditions.
  • Inspect facilities to ensure compliance with fire regulations.
  • Direct fire fighting or prevention activities.
  • Monitor environmental conditions to detect hazards.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Operation and Control - Using equipment or systems.
  • Service Orientation - Looking for ways to help people.
  • Instructing - Teaching people how to do something.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Control Precision - Quickly changing the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
  • Multilimb Coordination - Using your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down.
  • Trunk Strength - Using your lower back and stomach.
  • Static Strength - Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - Keeping your arm or hand steady.
  • Manual Dexterity - Holding or moving items with your hands.
  • Response Orientation - Quickly deciding if you should move your hand, foot, or other body part.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Stamina - Exercising for a long time without getting out of breath.
  • Selective Attention - Paying attention to something without being distracted.
  • Far Vision - Seeing details that are far away.
  • Reaction Time - Quickly moving your hand, finger, or foot based on a sound, light, picture or other command.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Finger Dexterity - Putting together small parts with your fingers.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Flexibility of Closure - Seeing hidden patterns.
  • Visualization - Imagining how something will look after it is moved around or changed.
  • Depth Perception - Deciding which thing is closer or farther away from you, or deciding how far away it is from you.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Social - Occupations with Social interests frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Most involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Rescue fire victims, and administer emergency medical aid.
  • Maintain contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.
  • Patrol burned areas after fires to locate and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires.
  • Establish water supplies, connect hoses, and direct water onto fires.
  • Maintain knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars, conventions, and conferences.
  • Test and maintain tools, equipment, jump gear, and parachutes to ensure readiness for fire suppression activities.
  • Orient self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collect supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.
  • Operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses.
  • Train new employees to control and suppress forest fires.
  • Maintain fire equipment and firehouse living quarters.
  • Participate in physical training to maintain high levels of physical fitness.
  • Fell trees, cut and clear brush, and dig trenches to create firelines, using axes, chainsaws, or shovels.
  • Transport personnel and cargo to and from fire areas.
  • Take action to contain any hazardous chemicals that could catch fire, leak, or spill.
  • Inform and educate the public about fire prevention.
  • Extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps.
  • Drop weighted paper streamers from aircraft to determine the speed and direction of the wind at fire sites.
  • Participate in fire prevention and inspection programs.
  • Organize fire caches, positioning equipment for the most effective response.
  • Serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager.
  • Observe forest areas from fire lookout towers to spot potential problems.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.