How Much Do Hotshot Firefighters Make?

October 15, 2023

Firefighting is a dangerous and physically demanding profession. It’s also incredibly rewarding and lucrative. As the summer wildfire season rages across the West, firefighters are working tirelessly to contain and fight the flames. This includes elite hotshot crews, who work for the federal Forest Service. But while their heroic efforts have kept the flames at bay, the strain of years on the frontlines is taking a toll on their mental and physical health. The crews, nicknamed for their specialized equipment and skill set, are increasingly under-staffed. As a result, many veterans are quitting the job, just as the season ramps up.

This year, there are 87 active wildfires in 13 states. Many of the fires are the result of abnormally dry weather conditions. The soaring number of fires has led to a shortage of firefighters. But the crisis is especially acute for hotshot crews, a group of specialized hand crews that are tasked with tackling “strategic and tactical wildfire assignments.”

The grueling work of the crews requires intense physical training throughout the year, with many having to complete daily 1.5 hour training programs that include obstacle courses, free weights and miles of hiking trails to train as a team. The average crew has around 20 members and consists of experienced personnel with strong leadership skills.

To determine how much do hotshot firefighters make, we looked at data from several sources. We’ve included histograms, trends and comparisons from ZipRecruiter along with salary estimates from other third party sources. We’ve also identified the top 10 cities where you can expect to be paid more than the national average for a Hotshot Firefighter.


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