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Wildland Fire Professional Certification

Application deadlines have been extended to September 1. Decision notifications are given by January 1. The application form is available at the bottom of this page.


The Association of Fire Ecology's Wildland Fire Professional Certification Program is designed to further ecologically-based fire science and management. The complexity and importance of fire science and management is increasing worldwide. To meet the increasing demands for effective analysis, decision-making, and workforce development in a the changing fire landscape, the Education Committee of the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) has developed a Professional Certification Program for fire ecologists, managers, and technicians. The goals of the program are to formally identify fire careers as vital professions, to set standards for the preparation of future fire professionals, and to document the education, experience, and training qualifications of members of the fire ecology and management profession.

We hope that this strengthens the recognition and support for ecologically-based fire science and management. We wish to recognize and advance sound, effective ecological application of fire through two unique programs developed by the Education Committee of the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE).
  • Certification of individuals as Wildland Fire Professionals, reflecting their education, training and experience, and
  • Certification of university education programs through our Wildland Fire Academic Program Certification (see our website for more information about this program).
AFE offers two Initial Certifications for those starting out in their wildland fire careers, and two Certification Pathways, for Fire Managers and Fire Ecologists & Scientists. Minimum qualifications for each type of AFE Certification are described below. Appeals for exceptions must include documentation and a letter justifying the request.

Initial Certifications

  • AFE Wildland Fire Technician: An entry-level position for fire professionals who have graduated from a 2-year or 4-year program with a focus on wildland fire, such as Technical Fire Management 1. Cost is $60
  • AFE Wildland Fire Practitioner: Minimum qualifications include a B.S. with coursework in 7 core areas (see below) or a B.S from an AFE Certified Academic Program, PLUS 2 years of related experience. Cost is $60

Certification Pathway 1: Fire Management

  • AFE Wildland Fire Manager: Minimum qualifications include a B.S. with coursework in 7 core areas (see below) or graduation from an AFE Certified Academic Program,  PLUS 8 years of related experience, OR a M.S. in Fire Management (or related field), PLUS 5 years of related experience. Cost is $60
  • AFE Senior Wildland Fire Manager: Senior Wildland Fire Managers are leaders in the wildland fire management profession who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the field. Minimum qualifications include either a M.S. or Ph.D. in Fire Management (or related field), PLUS at least 10 years of related experience, or a B.S. degree in Fire Management (or related field) plus at least 20 years of related experience. Applicants should demonstrate an exemplary record of achievement in ecologically-based fire management or fire policy. The latter could be demonstrated by a diversity of complex fire management responsibilities, especially if these are in multiple ecosystems; leading development and implementation of a fire management plan(s) based on ecological principles; modeling of fire behavior and effects based on ecological principles; breadth of experience and demonstrated influence on incorporating fire ecology into management practices, e.g. through publication and training; or equivalent demonstration of long-term commitment to integrating ecology into fire management. Cost is $150

Certification Pathway 2: Fire Ecology and Science

  • AFE Wildland Fire Ecologist: Minimum qualifications include a B.S. with coursework in 7 core areas (see below) or graduation from an AFE Certified Academic Program, PLUS 8 years of related experience, OR a M.S. in Fire Ecology or Fire Science (or related field) PLUS 5 years of related experience. Cost is $60
  • AFE Senior Wildland Fire Ecologist: Senior Fire Ecologists / Scientists are leaders in the fire science profession who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the field. Minimum qualifications include a M.S. or Ph. D. in Fire Ecology / Science (or related field), PLUS at least 10 years of related experience. Applicants should demonstrate an exemplary record of achievement in fire ecology or fire science research and education. Cost is $150

The Seven Required Core Area of Study for all Certification Levels:

  1. Fire Ecology - At least 3 credits are required from the Fire Ecology (can include thesis or dissertation research).
  2. Fire Science & Management - At least 3 credits are required from Fire Sciences / Management sections (can include thesis and dissertation research).
  3. General Ecology - At least 3 credits are required in General Ecology.
  4. Statistics - At least 3 credits are required in Statistics.
  5. Advanced Ecology & Biology - At least 3 credits are required for Advanced Ecology and Biology – 300-level+ courses in: ecology, botany, pathology, zoology, entomology.
  6. Measurement & Analysis - At least 3 credits are required for Measurement and Analysis – remote sensing, GIS, modeling, sampling, monitoring.
  7. Environmental Sciences - At least 3 credits are required for Environmental Sciences – Meteorology, soils, geology, hydrology, physical geography.
FOR ALL APPLICANTS
All applications must include details of how the qualifications are being met. For all levels of certification, we need to see demonstration of quality and effectiveness in meeting requirements. "Related experience" may consist of a combination of land stewardship, fire suppression, policy development, and/or research employment/volunteer and other work involving ecologically-based fire management. Appeals for exceptions must include documentation and a letter justifying the request.

Please read the guidebook before you start your application (updated 2-23-16).  


 Professional Certification Guidebook 

  AFE Wildland Fire Professional Certification Application 

About the AFE Professional Certification Committee

The AFE Professional Certification Committee is composed of at least four members.  All committee members must be members of AFE and should be appointed by the AFE Board of Directors (Board) for two year terms. It is recommended that at least two members of the AFE Professional Certification Committee have previous experience serving on the committee, evaluating applicants.  This committee will operate under the direction of the AFE Board of Directors. 


The Professional Certification committee will review an applicant’s submitted material to evaluate their certification as a fire ecologist.  There are many pathways of certification and applicants must identify their desired pathway.  Certification in that pathway are evaluated using two criteria: coursework and experience as outlined in the guidebook.


Chair:  The chair of the AFE Professional Certification Committee is also a member of the Board who will (1) participate in all committee activities, (2) be responsible for communications to the Board, (3) coordinate evaluations and lead meetings to evaluate applicants, and (4) present the recommended results of the evaluation of each year’s application pool to the Board for approval by the end of each calendar year.

Education Inter-Committee Liaison: This member of AFE Professional Certification Committee is also a member of the AFE Education Committee and will (1) participate in all AFE Professional Certification Committee activities and (2) be responsible for facilitating communications between the two committees.
At Large Representatives: At least two at large members will participate in all AFE Professional Certification Committee activities.


2017 Committee Members:

Chair: Robert Keane 

Inter-committee Liaison: Gus Smith

At Large: Ron Masters

Ed Committee: Brian Van Winkle


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