Forest Fire Prevention Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In high school, take classes in physics, chemistry, English, speech, environmental science, mathematics, and computer science. Since you will do a lot of walking and climbing in your work, take physical education classes and join sports teams to build your physical endurance and strength.

Postsecondary Education

Forest fire prevention specialists typically have previous work experience as a firefighter. To become a firefighter, you can receive training at a fire academy, attend a junior or community college that offers a two-year fire technology program (degrees are also offered by some four-year colleges), or complete an apprenticeship.

Once they are hired, specialists receive on-the-job-training in inspection and prevention techniques.

Other Education or Training

Forest fire prevention specialists must continue to learn throughout their careers because fire prevention and firefighting techniques are constantly changing. American Forests, International Association of Wildland Fire, National Fire Academy, Society of American Foresters, and state-level forestry and fire prevention associations provide webinars, classes, seminars, and other learning opportunities that help specialists keep their skills up to date. The U.S. Forest Service also provides continuing education opportunities to its specialists.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The National Fire Protection Association offers the certified wildfire mitigation specialist credential to fire prevention professionals whose work involves wildfire hazard mitigation, public education practices, and wildland fire science. Applicants must have at least a high school diploma (or equivalent), pass a computer-based examination, and complete four required home ignition zone assessments. Contact the association for more information.  

No licensing is required for forest fire prevention specialists.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Forest fire prevention specialists typically need experience in firefighting before being hired. Some departments require applicants to also have experience working as a volunteer or paid staff member in a fire prevention/public awareness program. Others require experience performing fire code inspections in a fire protection agency.

Forest fire prevention specialists must be attentive to detail because they must identify issues (e.g., accumulated wastes, mishandling of combustibles, damaged electrical lines) that increase the risk of fire. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are important because specialists need to educate the public about fire safety and prevention and explain violations to campers and landowners, as well as interact effectively with their coworkers. They need to be patient, but tenacious, with homeowners and business owners, who may not fully understand the severity of issues that they’ve identified. Other important traits include good physical health, strong organizational and leadership skills, the ability to read maps and construction plans, and a willingness to continue to learn throughout their careers.