Returning Veterans; Enlisting Their Skills for CAL FIRE Service (R.V.E.T.S.)
From the CAL FIRE family to veterans and their families, "Thank you for your service and sacrifice."
Recognizing the hardships accompanying reintegration into the civilian workforce, as well as the valuable skills and experiences veterans possess, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has launched Returning Veterans: Enlisting Their Skills for CAL FIRE Service (R.V.E.T.S). R.V.E.T.S. is CAL FIRE’s grassroots effort to assist veterans with integration and transition into service with the Department. In partnership with a variety of organizations including, but not limited to, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) and the California National Guard (Cal Guard), R.V.E.T.S. explores a variety of employment options and educational opportunities for veterans who have successfully served in the United States Armed Services.
For those who are not familiar with the State's civil service system, obtaining employment with the State of California can seem daunting at times. This page is designed as a resource for veterans and provides links to various informational websites, as well as a broad overview of the civil service process. For detailed information on the civil service process above and beyond what is provided below, please visit the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR).
- CAREER EXPLORATION
- STATE OF CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT IN BRIEF
- MAKING CAL FIRE YOUR CHOICE
- DISABLED VETERANS
Your experiences may have already prepared you for a career in a specific occupational area, or you may be considering a different career altogether. Research, including a self-assessment, is essential in any career planning. A self-assessment evaluates your strengths/weaknesses, successes/failings, and likes/dislikes in order to assist you in matching yourself to a certain occupational area.
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has a webpage titled Self-Assessment for Career Exploration with links to a variety of career planning tools. EDD also provides veterans readily available job and training information.
When performing a self-assessment, you will need to analyze the military skills you have acquired while successfully serving. There are a variety of online military skill translators to assist you in transcribing those specific skills into applicable civilian work experience. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosts a webpage that houses several easy to use military skills translators. Although State of California civil service classifications may not be loaded into many of these databases, the data obtained should still prove useful in your career planning efforts (e.g., taking the results and using them for help in resume writing, interview preparation, etc.).
The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) program, sponsored by the United States Department of Labor (DOL), is considered the nation's primary source of occupational information. The O*NET Resource Center can assist in finding an occupational area you may be interested in pursuing, as it allows you to view over 900 different careers.
The DOL has also launched “My Next Move for Veterans,” an online resource that allows veterans to enter their military occupation code and discover civilian occupations for which they are well qualified. Additionally, DOL provides career planning information for veterans throughout its website and links to the Veteran Gold Card and The Veterans Job Bank.
This is great, but you want to work for CAL FIRE. Familiarizing yourself with the translation of your skills to “civilian speak” will assist you in the various phases of the employment process from application/resume writing to interviewing.
Once you have narrowed down your selection to “general” occupational areas you are interested in pursuing, you will want to familiarize yourself with the State’s civil service system. Occupational groups are captured in the class specification or job description as defined by CalHR. A class specification identifies the civil service classification, typical tasks, minimum qualifications, knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), and other useful information regarding the job. The CalHR database for job descriptions asks users to input a class code or class title (classification name) for a description; however, if you are unfamiliar with specific class codes or class titles, you can enter a partial name or keyword. For example, if you are looking for various civil service classifications in firefighting, type the word “fire” in the class title field and the database will pull up several related class specifications. For a listing of all civil service classifications used at CAL FIRE, click here.
While the class specification proves useful for identifying information specific to the job, it does not provide pay information. Information on pay can be found in the alphabetical listing by classification name on the CalHR website under pay scales.
The State of California utilizes what is referred to as a merit-based civil service selection system. The basic premise of the State's merit system requires that individuals hired into and promoted within the civil service be selected on the basis of their job-related qualifications and that such selection decisions be free of illegal discrimination and political patronage. The California State Personnel Board (SPB) is charged with oversight of this system.
The selection process must be designed to assess the KSAs associated with the classification which are required for successful performance in the job.
The civil service selection process, as a whole, is made up of a number of stages including recruitment (advertising), assessing or measuring candidate qualifications (selection), choosing of the candidate to be appointed (hiring), and the employee’s successful completion of any required probationary period.
After you have determined the civil service classification(s) you are interested in, you will want to:
- Take an examination – to establish eligibility review the classification/job title and examination bulletin for details on the examination, the type of examination, and the minimum qualifications required to compete in the examination (see additional information for veterans located below). Once you have done this, take and successfully pass the examination(s) to get placed on an eligible list.
- Once eligibility has been established, search and apply for job vacancies.
NOTE: Veterans qualify for preference points in examinations and have the ability to take promotional examinations. For specific examination information for veterans, please visit the CalHR website at https://jobs.ca.gov/Public/Jobs/Veterans.aspx.
To see what examinations CAL FIRE is currently offering; bookmark and periodically visit http://www.fire.ca.gov/about/about_careers_exams.php.
For other civil service examinations, visit the CalHR website at https://forms.spb.ca.gov/bulletins.
- Once eligibility has been established, search and apply for job vacancies. Current job vacancies are located in the CalHR Vacant Position Database (VPOS). VPOS hosts all civil service job openings, including those for CAL FIRE. Select “Forestry and Fire Protection, Department of” from the drop down menu for job openings specific to CAL FIRE.
In addition to posting on VPOS, CAL FIRE often advertises open periods for its seasonal classifications throughout its career pages.
CAL FIRE is an all hazard organization, employing approximately 170 different civil service classifications and 13 bargaining units spanning many occupational areas. There are jobs in administration, aviation, information technology, fire protection, resource management, etc. CAL FIRE’s Office of the State Fire Marshal employs Arson and Bomb Investigators (Class Code 8997), Pipeline Safety Engineers (Class Code 2278), Deputy State Fire Marshals (Class Code 9086), and more.
CAL FIRE also utilizes temporary, non-testing classifications for much of its seasonal workforce in fire protection and resource management.
- Fire Fighter I (FF I) (Class Code 1083) – As a member of a fire crew, a FF I receives training in wildland, rural, and structural fire suppression methods and techniques; fights fire as a member of a fire crew using tools and equipment such as a shovel, axe, McLeod, Pulaski, and back pump; clears trails and cuts brush; assists in building, grounds, and equipment maintenance and repair; inspects, cleans and repairs fire hose and equipment, sharpens fire tools, paints equipment and buildings and performs semiskilled or laboring construction work; performs general station house- keeping and kitchen duties.
For more FF I information, please visit (CAL FIRE): http://www.fire.ca.gov/about/about_careers_fireprotection_seasonal.php
- Forestry Aide (Class Code 1060) – In the fields of forestry, fire prevention, or natural resource management, a Forestry Aide provides subprofessional assistance. Examples of work tasks include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following: timber marking, cruising, pest control, forest engineering, establishing and measuring sample plots, remote sensing, geographic information systems processing and analysis, resource surveys, nursery operations, seed processing and storage, State Demonstration Forest operations, forestry assistance, urban forestry programs, and/or directing work crews. May perform or assist in such assignments as fire prevention patrol and inspections, Emergency Command Center/Operations Center call taker, incident base support, and other emergency related assignments (e.g., fire suppression and control).
For more Forestry Aide information, please visit (CAL FIRE): http://calfire.ca.gov/about/about_careers.php
Both the FF I and Forestry Aide classifications are non-testing temporary classification used by CAL FIRE. Unlike other civil service classifications, these do not require a civil service examination.
The State of California offers a Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) for qualified members, although not specific for veterans. LEAP is an alternate selection process designed to facilitate the recruitment and hiring of persons with disabilities. LEAP also provides applicants with an alternative way to demonstrate their qualifications for employment rather than the traditional State civil service examination process. For frequently asked questions regarding LEAP, please visit http://jobs.ca.gov/Job/LeapFAQ.
The State of California also acknowledges the service and sacrifice of its disabled veterans, in part, through the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) Participation Program. With the DVBE Program, State agencies have goals toward awarding a portion of their annual contract dollars to certified DVBEs. DVBE certification is obtained through the California Department of General Services.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the R.V.E.T.S. Hotline at 916-327-3985.