Possible Jobs for Fire Science Majors
A degree in fire science prepares graduates for a career in firefighting. Specific job titles could include fire marshal, fire investigator, smoke jumper, captain, fire chief, assistant chief, lieutenant, and volunteer firefighter. It's important to keep in mind that most firefighters go through fire academy training, and extensive experience is required for supervisory positions.
Educational Requirements and Options
Although most firefighters find work with just a high school diploma, some employers prefer applicants who have completed courses at a community college or those who hold an associate's degree in fire science. EMT certification is also required.
Fire science majors learn how to handle important tools, such as chain saws and fire extinguishers. They also work in a team environment when rescuing victims, dealing with different types of fires and handling hazardous materials. Typical college courses include fire prevention, investigation methods, CPR, first aid, hazardous materials, building construction, combustion, fire behavior and firefighting basics.
Duties and Work Environments
The work firefighters perform depends on their area of specialty. For example, fire marshals and inspectors find ways to prevent fires, conduct building inspections, enforce fire safety laws and teach fire safety to kids. Fire investigators talk to witnesses and gather evidence to discover the source of a fire. Smoke jumpers put out forest fires from the sky. Firefighters work in a variety of environments, including airports, forests, and factories.
The salaries for fire science professionals vary by job title. Median salary amounts for the following careers are provided by PayScale.com, as of January 2016:
- Firefighter - $44,078
- Fire inspector/investigator - $54,534
- Fire chief - $75,282
- First-line supervisor/manager of fire fighting and prevention workers - $61,342
Firefighters can expect 5% growth in employment opportunities between 2014-2024, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is about average. This growth can be attributed to the conversion of volunteer positions into paid positions. An influx of people migrating in and around urban areas will also cause an increase in employment.