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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Fire Lookouts in San Jose, California

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for forest fire lookouts in the San Jose, California area. The national trend for forest fire lookouts sees this job pool growing by about 8.4% over the next eight years. In general, forest fire lookouts enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards.

Income for forest fire lookouts is about $33 per hour or $70,330 annually on average in California. Nationally, their income is about $15 per hour or $31,380 yearly. Earnings for forest fire lookouts are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Fire Control in California and not quite as good as general Fire Control category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: fire tower keeper, forest technician, and fire behavior analyst.

The San Jose area is home to fifty-nine schools of higher education, including six within twenty-five miles of San Jose where you can get a degree as a forest fire lookout. Forest fire lookouts usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become a forest fire lookout if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forest Fire Lookout

In general, forest fire lookouts enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. They also report forest fires and weather conditions.

Forest fire lookouts relay messages about emergencies, accidents, locations of crew and staff, and fire hazard conditions. They also direct crews working on firelines during forest fires. Equally important, forest fire lookouts have to manage records and logbooks. They are often called upon to estimate sizes and characteristics of fires, and report findings to base camps by radio or telephone. They are expected to direct maintenance and up keep firefighting equipment, or requisition new equipment. Finally, forest fire lookouts examine and inventory firefighting equipment such as axes and fire extinguishers in order to establish  their condition.

Every day, forest fire lookouts are expected to be able to evaluate problems as they arise. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for forest fire lookouts to administer rules regarding sanitation and related forest rules. They are often called upon to locate forest fires on area maps, using azimuth sighters and known landmarks. They also patrol assigned areas, looking for forest fires and weather phenomena. They are sometimes expected to examine forest tracts and logging areas for fire hazards such as accumulated wastes or mishandling of combustibles, and recommend appropriate fire prevention measures. Somewhat less frequently, forest fire lookouts are also expected to restrict public access and recreational use of forest lands during critical fire seasons.

They also have to be able to restrict public access and recreational use of forest lands during critical fire seasons and examine and inventory firefighting equipment such as axes and fire extinguishers in order to establish  their condition. And finally, they sometimes have to examine forest tracts and logging areas for fire hazards such as accumulated wastes or mishandling of combustibles, and recommend appropriate fire prevention measures.

Like many other jobs, forest fire lookouts must want to innovate to meet new challenges and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in San Jose include:

  • Criminal Investigator. Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.
  • Customs Inspector. Investigate and inspect persons, common carriers, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the United States or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations.
  • 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 Firefighter. Control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.
  • Policeman. Patrol assigned areas to enforce laws and ordinances, regulate traffic, and arrest violators.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.
  • Sheriff. Enforce law and order in rural or unincorporated districts or serve legal processes of courts. May patrol courthouse, guard court or grand jury, or escort defendants.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Fire Lookout Training

Las Positas College - Livermore, CA

Las Positas College, 3033 Collier Cyn Rd, Livermore, CA 94551-7650. Las Positas College is a medium sized college located in Livermore, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,098 students. Las Positas College has less than one year, one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated two, fourteen, eight, and zero students respectively in 2008.

College of San Mateo - San Mateo, CA

College of San Mateo, 1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, CA 94402-3784. College of San Mateo is a large college located in San Mateo, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 11,215 students. College of San Mateo has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated five, sixteen, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Cogswell Polytechnical College - Sunnyvale, CA

Cogswell Polytechnical College, 1175 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, CA 94089. Cogswell Polytechnical College is a small college located in Sunnyvale, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 224 students and an admission rate of 50%. Cogswell Polytechnical College has a bachelor's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated sixteen students in 2008.

Chabot College - Hayward, CA

Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94545. Chabot College is a large college located in Hayward, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,299 students. Chabot College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated three, sixteen, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Mission College - Santa Clara, CA

Mission College, 3000 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054-1897. Mission College is a large college located in Santa Clara, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,154 students. Mission College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated twenty-nine students in 2008.

Cabrillo College - Aptos, CA

Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003. Cabrillo College is a large college located in Aptos, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,822 students. Cabrillo College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated zero and twenty-five students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: San Jose, California

San Jose, California
San Jose, California photo by Leslie

San Jose is situated in Santa Clara County, California. It has a population of over 948,279, which has grown by 6.0% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in San Jose, 163, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Jose are priced at $163,800 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, two hundred fourteen new homes were built in San Jose, down from three hundred twenty-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in San Jose are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is computer and electronic products, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average travel time to work is about 28 minutes. More than 31.6% of San Jose residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in San Jose is 13.2%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of San Jose residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.2%, is less than both the national and state average. Almaden Hill United Methodist Church, Almaden Valley United Methodist Church and Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses are some of the churches located in San Jose. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Muslim Estimate.

San Jose is home to the Evergreen Ranch and the Rosegarden Branch San Jose Public Library as well as Almaden Winery Park and Albertson Park. Shopping malls in the area include Almaden Plaza Shopping Center, Almaden Via Valiente Plaza Shopping Center and Foxworthy Shopping Center. Visitors to San Jose can choose from Atrium Gardens, Best Western Airport Plaza and Best Western Inn Airport Plaza for temporary stays in the area.