Fire Science Associate Degree Program Overviews

Associate degree programs in fire science are available online as well as on a number of college campuses. These programs can help students prepare for entry-level firefighting positions in fire departments and a few government agencies.

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Essential Information

Programs in fire science prepare students not only to fight fires, but also to prevent and investigate them. Some programs teach students to manage and organize a fire department. Because most fire departments require their firefighters to have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, some associate programs include EMT courses. Many fire science programs are offered in online formats as well as on campus.

To enter a program in fire science, students must have a high school diploma or have passed their GED.

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Associate Degree in Fire Science

Most associate programs in fire science have no education prerequisites beyond those required by the college administering the program. However, some programs expect students to either already be certified firefighters, or to have taken an introductory fire science course. Comparable experience or coursework is usually accepted. Most related degree programs focus on training for dealing with fires in houses and other structures, but some include, or even focus on, fighting forest fires. In addition to general education core courses, students usually must take 18-40 credit hours of coursework that is specific to fire science or related to it.

These courses might include:

  • Administering a fire department
  • Basics of fire prevention
  • Combustion and fire origins
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Pre-hospital emergency care
  • Firefighting strategies

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighting jobs were anticipated to increase by 5% from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, firefighters earned a median annual wage of $46,870.

Continuing Education

Each state has its own firefighter association or training institute through which continuing education is offered. States requiring certification of firefighters will offer the necessary courses and testing for the certification. Sometimes a local fire department conducts training courses.

Training is also available through the U.S. Fire Administration, in both classroom and online courses. Other continuing education courses are available from colleges, either on campus or online. Optional national, even international, certification may be obtained through state associations and other programs that have been accredited by the ProBoard Fire Service Professional Qualifications System.

Although fire departments that require EMT training generally accept a basic EMT certification, departments in large cities are increasingly requiring their firefighters to become certified paramedics. Therefore, students in fire science associate programs may need to plan on enrolling in an EMT program, unless they expect to work only as volunteers.

Aspiring firefighters may opt to complete an associate program in fire science, though the only academic requirement for the profession is a high school diploma or its equivalent. Associate programs in this field cover safety, fire investigation and core firefighting techniques.

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