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Career and Education Opportunities for Forest Firefighters in Naperville, Illinois

There are many career and education opportunities for forest firefighters in the Naperville, Illinois area. About 17,590 people are currently employed as forest firefighters in Illinois. By 2016, this is expected to grow 12% to 19,660 people employed. 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.

A person working as a forest firefighter can expect to earn about $24 hourly or $51,230 annually on average in Illinois and about $21 per hour or $44,260 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Forest firefighters earn less than people working in the category of Fire Control generally in Illinois and less than people in the Fire Control category nationally. People working as forest firefighters can fill a number of jobs, such as: rescue worker, smoke jumper, and smoke chaser.

There are nine schools within twenty-five miles of Naperville where you can study to be a forest firefighter, among 166 schools of higher education total in the Naperville area. 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 Naperville 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.
  • Lifeguard. Monitor recreational areas, such as pools, beaches, or ski slopes to provide assistance and protection to participants.
  • Security Guard. Guard, patrol, or monitor premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forest Firefighter Training

Joliet Junior College - Joliet, IL

Joliet Junior College, 1215 Houbolt Rd, Joliet, IL 60431-8938. Joliet Junior College is a large college located in Joliet, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,088 students. Joliet Junior College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated two and fifteen students respectively in 2008.

Prairie State College - Chicago Heights, IL

Prairie State College, 202 South Halsted Street, Chicago Heights, IL 60411-8226. Prairie State College is a medium sized college located in Chicago Heights, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,368 students. Prairie State College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty-eight and five students respectively in 2008.

Harper College - Palatine, IL

Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067-7398. Harper College is a large college located in Palatine, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,250 students. Harper College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated forty-three students in 2008.

Elgin Community College - Elgin, IL

Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, IL 60123-7193. Elgin Community College is a medium sized college located in Elgin, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,821 students. Elgin Community College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated thirty-five, seven, and nine students respectively in 2008.

City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College - Chicago, IL

City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College, 30 E Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601-2449. City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College is a medium sized college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,342 students. City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated three students in 2008.

Moraine Valley Community College - Palos Hills, IL

Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills, IL 60465-0937. Moraine Valley Community College is a large college located in Palos Hills, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 17,477 students. Moraine Valley Community College has an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated eighteen students in 2008.

Oakton Community College - Des Plaines, IL

Oakton Community College, 1600 E Golf Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016-1268. Oakton Community College is a large college located in Des Plaines, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,552 students. Oakton Community College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one, three, and four students respectively in 2008.

Triton College - River Grove, IL

Triton College, 2000 5th Ave, River Grove, IL 60171-1995. Triton College is a large college located in River Grove, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,547 students. Triton College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and eight students respectively in 2008.

Waubonsee Community College - Sugar Grove, IL

Waubonsee Community College, Rte 47 at Waubonsee Drive, Sugar Grove, IL 60554-0901. Waubonsee Community College is a medium sized college located in Sugar Grove, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,218 students. Waubonsee Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Fire Science/Firefighting which graduated one and seven students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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: Naperville, Illinois

Naperville, Illinois
Naperville, Illinois photo by JohnDBuell

Naperville is located in Dupage County, Illinois. It has a population of over 143,117, which has grown by 11.5% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Naperville, 107, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Naperville are valued at $401,600 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, one hundred fifty-four new homes were built in Naperville, down from two hundred eighty-one the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Naperville are educational services, health care, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, finance and insurance, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 33 minutes. More than 60.6% of Naperville residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 23.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Naperville is 8.1%, which is less than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Naperville residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 58.9%, is more than both the national and state average. Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, Saint Thomas The Apostle Church and Bethany Church are some of the churches located in Naperville. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Naperville is home to the High Grove Business Park and the Spring Brook Golf Course as well as Du Page River Park and Winding Creek Park. Shopping malls in the area include Pebblewood Plaza Shopping Center, Cress Creek Square Shopping Center and Cress Creek Shopping Center. Visitors to Naperville can choose from Fairfield Inn by Marriott, EXEL Inns of Chicago and Country Inn Suites Naperville for temporary stays in the area.