Topic ID #5303 - posted 5/8/2009 12:54 PM

Forest Service Jobs

Red Tech

I was wondering if anyone had any experience working for the Forest Service, I recently got offered a job as a Tech for the service and I'm debating wither to take it or not. I assume it will be similar to the work that I have done in CRM. Any advice or information about personal experiences working for the Forest service would be greatly appreciated

Post ID#14001 - replied 5/8/2009 10:44 PM


I'm on my 3rd season with the FS and enjoy it! Don't know if it's similar to private CRM or not, I don't have that experience. The people I work with are good people, however, it is a large bureaucracy. Hence it is mired with redtape and some questionable ways of doing things. For instance, too much paperwork just to get someone hired and then to get new employees settled and things working. I came back to work a couple weeks ago and still can't log onto a computer or log onto to the website to enter my time to get paid. Frustrating things like that. They will eventually get resolved but in the meantime its a pain.

Besides that I've enjoyed working for the Forest Service (either because it's the FS or it's because I'm doing Archaeology), but if you have any specific questions you can PM me and I can answer those if you'd like. Anyway, the 70's denim green uniform pants are great! :lol:

Post ID#14080 - replied 5/26/2009 11:31 AM


I've been working for the Forest Service for over 5 years, doing seasonal and term, and am now a permanent employee (District Archaeologist). While there are some drawbacks to working for the government, they are minor - the bureaucratic BS is no worse than you will find in private firms, both small and large. What you WILL find is the that the working conditions are MUCH better than in the private sector - you are treated fairly and with respect. Your services are appreciated, and the wages are very competative. In addition, you get paid holidays and acrue paid vacation time. And while excavation is rare, you will become an expert surveyor, and if you have a good archaeologist to work under, will learn a lot about doing site forms and how to write reports. My advice is to take the job. I don't think you will regret it. 8-)

Post ID#14085 - replied 5/26/2009 5:12 PM


I just recently retired as a Forest Archeologist in Montana and I highly reccomend working for the agency. However each Ranger district and Forest is a little different. The thing I enjoyed most about working for a National Forest is that you manage the sites on that Forest. Working for a contractor you may record or excavate some really cool sites but when the project is finished you never go back to that site. In the FS you continually monitor previoulsy recorded sites, record new ones and you are the site steward for those resources.

The other benefit of working for the FS is the detail opportunities that exist in fire (I have worked on fires all over the west both as n archeologist and fire fighter). I have also done details thru the FS and to other agencys working all over the country and even in Korea.

Good luck!


Post ID#14358 - replied 6/24/2009 1:16 PM


I recently completed a forest service internship in The Uintah Basin, UT. Initially, it was disappointing that latter phase excavations were infrequent. After some "maturity" kicked in I relaxed and enjoyed the many benefits of workin' for the government. For instance, the technological advantages of Federal funding--->military-grade GPS and sophisticated GIS software, are many and can be hard to come by working with University professors and private sector CRM firms. Pay, benefits, and travel opportunities are competitive as well. There's a USDA program that also provides for graduate school tuition/board with a commitment to future service.

My personality often clashed with the goals/methods of the Forest Service, but I always did my best to remain rational and found that the experience was wonderful and educating. I am most certainly consider Federal employment in the future.

Post ID#17756 - replied 6/9/2010 3:53 PM

Jennifer Palmer


I worked for the USFS for two consecutive seasons as a GS-07 Archeologist/Crew Chief.  Honestly there isn't much negative that I can say about the experience. It was different from CRM in that there was no per diem, and crew members did have to pay for government housing, but it wasn't much (I can't remember exactly, but guessing maybe $185/mo?). We were treated as professionals and safety was always of the utmost concern, things which haven't always been the case with private firms. I loved working for the USFS and would jump at the opportunity to work for another federal agency.

Post ID#17757 - replied 6/10/2010 6:30 AM


I recently applied for a few positions with the Forest Service, with all the red tape any idea how long it would take to hear back?

Post ID#17758 - replied 6/10/2010 6:53 AM

Jennifer Palmer


I believe it was a few weeks before I heard anything when I applied. I just applied for a job with a different federal agency that said it could be 45 days after the applications were due before applicants could be notified. I guess it probably depends upon the announcement.

Post ID#17759 - replied 6/10/2010 11:49 AM


Ouch! 45 days after closing date?...I'm already desperate.  I'll keep my fingers crossed though.

Do they cross train everyone to fight fires?

Post ID#17760 - replied 6/10/2010 3:18 PM

Jennifer Palmer


At the forest where I worked, there was an option to volunteer for fire training. Those who were interested first had to pass a pack test to show you were fit enough.

Post ID#17767 - replied 6/12/2010 11:44 AM



The hiring process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.It is not predictable. Sometimes, hiring will be canceled, due to changes in funding, quality of the applicants, or other factors. It can be frustrating (on both ends), but that's how it is, and if you really want to work for the govt, be patient, and keep applying.

Post ID#17788 - replied 6/19/2010 12:02 PM


Okay, I'll bite

I'm on my 3rd Forest in a year and a half. I started out in a student volunteer program, then got hired on somewhere else as a GS-5, went back to the private sector, and then went somewhere else as a GS-7.

You get to do things at a level much much sooner than you would in the private sector. This may not be true at the 5 level, but sometimes it is. Right now I'm loving being a 7. The pay is decent. I make more now than anyone else I know at my level of education and experience. I make more now than several people I know at the master's level in the private sector. I have more responsibilities now than I ever have before, doing things that I know people who've been in the private sector for a decade don't get to do. Dare I say it, for the first time since I got into this game I actually feel like a professional, and I'm getting treated like one. Unlike the private sector, where having a brain and a sense of self worth are typically bad things (from personal experience of course...).

Loneliness, a lot of times you live in the middle of nowhere in places where you'd rather not prefer to live. A lot of us are used to the sacrifices made in this line of work with regards to our personal lives. I see this more when you're working out of a remote ranger outpost than hotel hopping with a large crew. Your relationships with others can end up in ruins. I do miss the camaraderie of the private sector, but not the work. Also, the crazy people. Something about doing this type of thing for 20 years will turn people crazy. Or maybe it just attracts the crazies. My boss is definitely not sane, so my third forest and my second crazy boss. I'm not exaggerating. These people need clinical help, and possibly medication. This can be very trying to deal with, but deal with it I will.  

So yeah, there's some good and bad. The work is good, so if you go in try and advance as soon as possible, after that it's all a matter of getting into the right office that's a fit for you. And to the person who asked if you get cross trained as a firefighter, you can, but it's not necessary. A lot of people just get "light duty" trained, which means you are allowed to go on a fire but not have to fire fight. Getting fire trained is good though, every district wants a fire archaeologist around.

Post ID#17790 - replied 6/21/2010 1:19 PM


ah yes...hazard pay!

Post ID#18060 - replied 8/23/2010 6:48 PM


The Forest Service is a good stepping stone, but I would not recommend it highly.

 My experience with the Forest Service was not a good one to say the least. It involved a lot of corruption, incompetence, sexual harassment, and other factors that eventually caused me to go whistle-blower, then resign after several years of severe retribution.

The entire Forest Service may not be this way, but where I served definitely was and continues to be. I originally got on as a GIS tech./Arch and after my term was up continued on in fire, traveling across the country from May to Oct each year serving as a Firefighter, Archaeologist, and Helicopter Crew Member.

I really enjoyed this, but kept seeing things things that were just plain wrong. Eventually, integrity got the better of me and as a veteran and American I could take it no more. Choosing to do the right thing over continuing a promising career.

Unfortunately, the system that was suppose to protect me, ended up just being a defense mechanism for  lawsuits against the Forest. One ran by a corrupt leadership team that was taking State and Federal monies to pay their salaries with no intention of using the funds for what they were designated for.

So take this as a cautionary tale, and if you work for the Forest Service be very careful and believe little of what are told...                

Post ID#18063 - replied 8/24/2010 2:27 AM

Jennifer Palmer

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Unfortunately I think there are bad apples in any organization, and it sounds like you ran into quite the group.

Post ID#18064 - replied 8/24/2010 7:12 AM


Not every Forest is like that, but I've worked for one that was.


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