Popular Careers

Career Development

Career development resources for aspiring professionals.

Career Change Center

Career change guides, tutorials and resources for professionals in transition.

Job Search Resources

Job search resources, websites, guides and directories for job seekers.

Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Tampa, Florida

Forest firefighter career and educational opportunities abound in Tampa, Florida. Currently, 21,630 people work as forest firefighters in Florida. This is expected to grow by 13% to about 24,460 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for forest firefighters are expected to grow by about 18.5%. Forest firefighters generally control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Income for forest firefighters is about $20 hourly or $43,010 annually on average in Florida. Nationally, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,260 per year. Earnings for forest firefighters are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Fire Control in Florida and not quite as good as general Fire Control category earnings nationally. People working as forest firefighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: fire fighter, hot shot, and forest ranger.

The Tampa area is home to fifty-four schools of higher education, including three within twenty-five miles of Tampa where you can get a degree as a forest firefighter. Forest firefighters usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a forest firefighter if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forest Firefighter

Forest Firefighter video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters patrol burned areas after fires to identify and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires. They also extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels, or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps. Equally important, forest firefighters have to manage knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars and conferences. They are often called upon to fell trees, cut and clear brush, and dig trenches to generate firelines, using axes, chainsaws or shovels. They are expected to manage fire equipment and firehouse living quarters. Finally, forest firefighters manage contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.

Every day, forest firefighters are expected to be able to lift, push and move large and heavy objects. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for forest firefighters to perform forest maintenance and improvement tasks such as cutting brush, planting trees, building trails and marking timber. They are often called upon to inform and educate the public about fire prevention. They also operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses. They are sometimes expected to transport staff and cargo to and from fire areas. Somewhat less frequently, forest firefighters are also expected to participate in physical training to maintain high levels of physical fitness.

Forest firefighters sometimes are asked to serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager. They also have to be able to observe forest areas from fire lookout towers to spot potential problems and test and maintain tools, equipment, jump gear and parachutes to insure readiness for fire suppression efforts. And finally, they sometimes have to manage fire equipment and firehouse living quarters.

Like many other jobs, forest firefighters must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Tampa include:

  • Fire Code Inspector. Inspect buildings and equipment to detect fire hazards and enforce state and local regulations.
  • Fire Fighter. Control and extinguish municipal fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.
  • Fire Inspector. Conduct investigations to determine causes of fires and explosions.
  • Forest Fire Lookout. Enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. Report forest fires and weather conditions.
  • Lifeguard. Monitor recreational areas, such as pools, beaches, or ski slopes to provide assistance and protection to participants.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Pinellas Technical Education Center - Saint Petersburg, FL

Pinellas Technical Education Center, 901 34th St S, Saint Petersburg, FL 33711-2209. Pinellas Technical Education Center is a small school located in Saint Petersburg, Florida. It is a public school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 875 students. Pinellas Technical Education Center has a one to two year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirteen students in 2008.

St Petersburg College - Clearwater, FL

St Petersburg College, 14025 58th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33760. St Petersburg College is a large college located in Clearwater, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 26,099 students. St Petersburg College has a less than one year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated forty-four students in 2008.

Hillsborough Community College - Tampa, FL

Hillsborough Community College, 39 Columbia Drive, Tampa, FL 33606-3584. Hillsborough Community College is a large college located in Tampa, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 24,037 students. Hillsborough Community College has a less than one year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated 209 students in 2008.


Oxygen Administration: Prepares laypersons and professional rescuers with the knowledge and skills needed to know when and how to use supplemental oxygen and breathing devices.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

Incident Safety Officer - Fire Suppression Certification: A fire department incident safety officer's mission is to promote safety standards and practices in the fire, rescue and emergency services community.

For more information, see the Fire Department Safety Officers Association website.

Health & Safety Officer Certification: Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Programs.

For more information, see the Fire Department Safety Officers Association website.

Special Hazards Suppression Systems: This certification program is designed for engineering technicians engaged in the detailing and layout and/or installation and maintenance related to special hazards suppression systems.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.


Tampa, Florida
Tampa, Florida photo by Caltrop

Tampa is located in Hillsborough County, Florida. It has a population of over 340,882, which has grown by 12.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Tampa, 95, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Tampa are valued at $188,700 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, six hundred thirty-five new homes were constructed in Tampa, down from 1,008 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Tampa are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 25.4% of Tampa residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.2%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Tampa is 11.8%, which is greater than Florida's average of 11.3%.

The percentage of Tampa residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 41.8%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, Florida Tampa Mission and Most Holy Redeemer Church are among the churches located in Tampa. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Tampa is home to the Parkers Railroad Station and the Drew Station Railroad Station as well as Ybor City Museum State Park and American Legion Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Northgate Shopping Center, Old Hyde Park Village Shopping Center and Benttree Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Tampa can choose from Backstage Restaurant & Lounge, Baymont Tampa Busch Gardens and Budget Inn for temporary stays in the area.