Possible Jobs for Fire Science Majors
Explore the variety of careers within the field of fire science. To help with your education and career decisions, we'll provide some key information about job duties, salaries, job outlook, and education requirements.
A fire science degree prepares graduates for a career in firefighting. It's important to keep in mind that most firefighters go through fire academy training, and extensive experience is required for supervisory positions. Specific job titles could include fire marshal, fire investigator, smoke jumper, captain, fire chief, assistant chief, lieutenant, and volunteer firefighter.
Duties and Work Environments
Most firefighters are employed by local governments, but some work in airports and factories. Wild land firefighters are specifically trained to put out fires and forest environments and a firefighter in the position of smoke jumper puts out forest fires from the sky.
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.
The salaries for fire science professionals vary by job title. According to March 2017 data from Payscale.com, the median salary was $46,332 for firefighters, $52,416 for fire inspectors, $73,253 for fire chiefs, and $57,790 for fire marshals.
Firefighters can expect 5% growth in employment opportunities between 2014 and 2024, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is about average. Improvements in buildings have reduced fire incidents, and aspiring firefighters should expect stiff competition for paid positions. However, firefighters will still be needed to respond to both fire and medical emergencies.
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 a fire science associate's degree. EMT certification is also required.
Fire science majors learn how to handle chain saws, fire extinguishers, and other tools. They also learn how to 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.
Graduates of degree programs in fire science can work in various careers dealing with firefighting, including fire investigators, fire chiefs, and fire marshals. Graduates of these programs will have taken courses in CPR and first aid, fire behavior, fire prevention, and more.