A Forest Firefighter Can Make Up to $40K in 6 Months


Firefighters Sergio Porras, Jerome Alton and Natasha Rodocker mop up hot spots while battling the Oak Fire in the Jerseydale community.

From left, Firefighters Sergio Porras, Jerome Alton and Natasha Rodocker mop up hot spots while battling the Oak Fire in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Monday, July 25, 2022. They are part of Task Force Rattlesnake, a program comprised of Cal Fire and California National Guard firefighters. Noah Berger/AP Photo

Every year we read more and more news stories about wildfires that destroy forests and, increasingly, homes and businesses. The EPA reports that the wildfire season has grown longer, burning more and more acreage.

Because of this there is a growing need for wildland firefighters, who get paid well for long and sometimes dangerous work.

Pay varies quite a bit depending on experience, employer and whether there are many fires to fight that year. Obviously, the employer doesn’t know how many fires there will be, but the more there are, the more the firefighters are needed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t separate the types of firefighters in its reporting, but assuming that those employed by the federal government are primarily wildland or forest firefighters, they earn an average of $56,640 annually.

To make the most money, you’ll want to get on a “hotshot” crew. These are the people who get the most challenging assignments. As “forest fire first responders,” they also work the most hours.

Hotshot crew firefighters can make $40,000 in less than six months (with overtime and hazard pay). In recent years, there has been plenty of work in the western states because of regular and aggressive wildfires. Those opportunities have stretched as well to the southwest states, where dry and hot conditions have extended into early spring and late fall.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire…



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