Wildland firefighting takes a special skill set. Not only do these professionals need to be physically strong, but they need to be willing to work a lot of hours and be ready when an emergency strikes. All that being said, wildland firefighting can be a very satisfying career and one that pays well, too.
If you are interested in a job as a wildland firefighter, take a look at these resources and tips for your job search – and good luck!
Where to look
The first step to finding a wildland firefighting job is to apply via a website that lists all openings. A few places to start your search include:
United States Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management
US Fish and Wildlife
National Park Service
These sites may direct you to more specific sites based on your location or expertise.
What qualifications are needed?
Many wildland firefighter jobs do not require a college degree, and some do not even require experience. People who are applying without either a degree or experience will want to look for “GS 3” positions. Job hunters with some college or technical skills should look for the GS 3/4 designation. Certain positions will have other specific qualifications in the listings that may match your expertise.
How can I land the job?
You are just one of hundreds of people who apply for each wildland firefighter position every year. So how can you stand out and win the limited number of positions available?
Complete the entire application.
This may seem obvious, but skipping over important sections of the application process could immediately take you out of the running for the job. For one thing, the hiring manager may not be able to tell if you are qualified if information is missing. For another thing, it shows that you are careless with details if you do not take the time to answer everything – not a good trait for a future wildland firefighter.
Proofread the application.
Read through everything for accuracy, and also to be sure everything is spelled correctly. You want to present the most professional side of you as possible and an error on your application could mean it gets pushed to the back of the list. If you have someone else nearby who can look it over, that’s even better. Sometimes when you read over your own work, your brain automatically corrects the errors.
Call the location where you are hoping to get a job about a week after submitting your application and ask about its progress. If you are able to physically go to the location, that’s a better option. Keep in mind that these locations are busy places, so you do not want to inundate the workers with calls. Touching base a week later shows that you are really interested in the job, though.
Prepare for the interview.
If you get a call to come in for the next step in the job placement process, get ready to impress your interviewers. Don’t just wait to answer the questions you are given; have some questions of your own prepared. Ask about the typical daily routine of a wildland firefighter in this position, and what sorts of things you will want to bring along with you. Asking questions about the specifics of your job shows that you care about the details and that you have already mentally placed yourself in that role.
Remember that you are one in a pool of many who want the same job. Pad your chances of being picked by taking your time with the application, following up and being prepared when you do get that call for an interview.