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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in St. Paul, Minnesota

There are many career and education opportunities for forest firefighters in the St. Paul, Minnesota area. About 6,050 people are currently employed as forest firefighters in Minnesota. By 2016, this is expected to grow 11% to 6,690 people employed. This is not quite as good as the national trend for forest firefighters, which sees this job pool growing by about 18.5% over the next eight years. In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters earn about $13 per hour or $29,020 yearly on average in Minnesota and about $21 hourly or $44,260 per year on average nationally. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Minnesota and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: forest ranger, smoke chaser, and ranger.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of St. Paul where you can study to be a forest firefighter, among seventy-seven schools of higher education total in the St. Paul area. The most common level of education for forest firefighters is a high school diploma or GED. It will take only a short time to learn to be 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 St. Paul 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Hennepin Technical College - Brooklyn Park, MN

Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445. Hennepin Technical College is a medium sized college located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,617 students. Hennepin Technical College has a less than one year program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated seven 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.


St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota photo by Gridge

St. Paul is located in Ramsey County, Minnesota. It has a population of over 279,590, which has shrunk by 2.6% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in St. Paul, 99, is near the national average. New single-family homes in St. Paul are valued at $213,300 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, thirty new homes were built in St. Paul, down from seventy-four the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in St. Paul are educational services, health care, and finance and insurance. For men, it is educational services, professional, scientific, and technical services, and construction. The average commute to work is about 21 minutes. More than 32.0% of St. Paul residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in St. Paul is 7.4%, which is greater than Minnesota's average of 7.0%.

The percentage of St. Paul residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 61.3%, is more than both the national and state average. Zion Church, Convent of the Visitation and Saint Paul Cathedral are some of the churches located in St. Paul. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Baptist General Conference.

St. Paul is home to the Saint Paul Orphange and the Wilder Center as well as Terrace Park and East View Playground.