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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Thousand Oaks, California

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for forest firefighters in the Thousand Oaks, California area. Currently, 26,700 people work as forest firefighters in California. This is expected to grow by 18% to 31,600 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for forest firefighters are expected to grow by about 18.5%. In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters earn about $29 per hour or $61,880 per year on average in California and about $21 hourly or $44,260 per year on average nationally. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in California and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. Forest firefighters work in a variety of jobs, including: forestry technician , handcrew foreman, and forest ranger.

There are fourteen schools of higher education in the Thousand Oaks area, including one within twenty-five miles of Thousand Oaks where you can get a degree to start your career as a forest firefighter. Given that the most common education level for forest firefighters is a high school diploma or GED, you can expect to spend only a short time studying to be a forest firefighter if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forest Firefighter

Forest Firefighter video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, forest firefighters control and suppress fires in forests or vacant public land.

Forest firefighters patrol burned areas after fires to identify and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires. They also extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels, or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps. Equally important, forest firefighters have to manage knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars and conferences. They are often called upon to fell trees, cut and clear brush, and dig trenches to generate firelines, using axes, chainsaws or shovels. They are expected to manage fire equipment and firehouse living quarters. Finally, forest firefighters manage contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.

Every day, forest firefighters are expected to be able to lift, push and move large and heavy objects. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for forest firefighters to perform forest maintenance and improvement tasks such as cutting brush, planting trees, building trails and marking timber. They are often called upon to inform and educate the public about fire prevention. They also operate pumps connected to high-pressure hoses. They are sometimes expected to transport staff and cargo to and from fire areas. Somewhat less frequently, forest firefighters are also expected to participate in physical training to maintain high levels of physical fitness.

Forest firefighters sometimes are asked to serve as fully trained lead helicopter crewmember and as helispot manager. They also have to be able to observe forest areas from fire lookout towers to spot potential problems and test and maintain tools, equipment, jump gear and parachutes to insure readiness for fire suppression efforts. And finally, they sometimes have to manage fire equipment and firehouse living quarters.

Like many other jobs, forest firefighters must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Thousand Oaks include:

  • 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 Fire Lookout. Enforce fire regulations and inspect for forest fire hazards. Report forest fires and weather conditions.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Oxnard College - Oxnard, CA

Oxnard College, 4000 S Rose Ave, Oxnard, CA 93033-6699. Oxnard College is a medium sized college located in Oxnard, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,639 students. Oxnard 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 one, twenty-four, forty-one, and zero students respectively in 2008.


Oxygen Administration: Prepares laypersons and professional rescuers with the knowledge and skills needed to know when and how to use supplemental oxygen and breathing devices.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

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.

Health & Safety Officer Certification: Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Programs.

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: Thousand Oaks, California

Thousand Oaks, California
Thousand Oaks, California photo by Tdv294

Thousand Oaks is situated in Ventura County, California. It has a population of over 123,091, which has grown by 5.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Thousand Oaks, 133, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Thousand Oaks are priced at $499,900 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, ten new homes were built in Thousand Oaks, down from seventy-one the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Thousand Oaks are educational services, health care, and finance and insurance. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and finance and insurance. The average commute to work is about 26 minutes. More than 42.2% of Thousand Oaks residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.6%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Thousand Oaks is 8.6%, which is less than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Thousand Oaks residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 44.6%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. King of Glory Lutheran Church, Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses and Temple Adat Elohim are all churches located in Thousand Oaks. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Thousand Oaks is home to the Rockwell International Science Center Library and the Lang Ranch as well as Joel McCrea Wildlife Preserve and Evenstar Park. Shopping centers in the area include Jeffries Center Shopping Center, Evergreens Shopping Center and Westoaks-Hampshire Shopping Center. Visitors to Thousand Oaks can choose from Best Western Oaks Lodge, Best Western Thousand Oaks Inn and Best Value Inn - Thousand Oaks for temporary stays in the area.