Students in associate's degree programs may be prepared for assistant and firefighter positions. Bachelor's degree programs, which provide internship experiences in addition to the coursework, can prepare students to work as fire inspectors and investigators. Fire hazard analysis and fire prevention strategies are some of the topics covered at this degree level. Designed for those who wish to work in research or education, fire protection engineering master's programs include advanced coursework in thermodynamic principles.
Associate's Degree in Fire Protection Engineering
Students enrolled in a 2-year associate's degree program in fire protection engineering gain basic mathematics, chemistry and physics skills. Students learn how thermodynamics prevent or feed a fire and learn about the mechanics of fire prevention construction materials. This degree program lays a foundation for students to complete a fire protection engineering bachelor's degree program.
An associate's degree program in fire protection engineering includes general education courses and specialized fire protection classes. Students may take such courses as:
- Design for engineers
Bachelor's Degree in Fire Protection Engineering
A fire protection engineering bachelor's degree program trains students to understand the science of fire and the mechanics that prevent and limit fire damage. This degree program prepares students to work in tandem with architects, contractors and engineering firms to build and maintain safe, fire-resistant buildings and communities. A Bachelor of Science is the most common type of fire protection engineering bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's degree programs in fire protection engineering require applicants not only to have a high school diploma or GED but also to have a solid background in mathematics, science, chemistry and physics. If applicants are lacking in these requirements, many degree programs require completion of these courses prior to admission to the program. Other admission requirements include a formal application, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal interview.
Fire protection engineering bachelor's degree programs offer students comprehensive insights and skills into fire prevention, protection and construction methods. Students blend theoretical classroom concepts with practical fire protection internship experiences. Coursework in a bachelor's degree program may include:
- Fire hazard analysis and data interpretation
- Fire testing and modeling
- Design of fire protection installation systems
- Strategies for fluid-based fire prevention systems
- Heat and mass transfer theories
Master's Degree in Fire Protection Engineering
Graduate programs in fire protection engineering offer advanced fire protection and engineering knowledge. Students develop advanced technical skills used to evaluate existing structures, design fire control systems and conduct fire safety research on consumer goods. These graduates also investigate fires to determine their source and path of destruction and offer analysis for future prevention. Master's degree programs in fire protection engineering prepare students to enter education and research sectors.
Applicants to a master's degree program in fire protection engineering must hold an engineering or related bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Many degree programs expect applicants to have an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher and request Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
A fire protection engineering master's degree program includes advanced physics, chemistry, and engineering design. Students may also take these courses:
- Fire risk analysis
- Fire protection design and engineering
- Mechanics of fluid-based fire protection
- Heat and mass transfer principles
- Fire assessment and modeling
- Fire management and recovery strategies
Graduates of associate's degree in fire protection engineering programs are usually eligible for entry-level employment. A master's degree in fire protection engineering enables professionals to seek senior-level positions with engineering firms, fire departments and architectural firms. Engineering firms, fire equipment and safety manufacturers, insurance offices and fire departments hire for the following positions:
- Fire protection engineering professor
- Fire chief, Chief fire marshal, Director of safety and fire protection, Firefighter
- Fire insurance claims administrator, Fire protection building code inspector
- Assistant to fire marshal, Assistant forensic investigator
- Fire insurance claims investigator, Fire protection engineering consultant
Continuing Education Information for Fire Protection Engineers
Professional state-mandated licensure is required to practice any type of engineering as a Professional Engineer (PE). This licensure requires candidates to complete an engineering degree program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Candidates who pass the FE exam are designated as Engineers in Training or Engineer Interns. This designation offers professional certification for those who have gained the minimum years of experience for professional certification. Once work-related benchmarks have been met, candidates may take the official PE examination.
Fire protection engineers must also pass the Fire Protection Examination. Fire protection professionals should verify their particular state's benchmark procedures for licensing. Once licensed, most states require Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) credits to maintain licensure. Many fire protection engineers are members of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not maintain specific data on fire protection engineers. However, the BLS estimates that fire inspectors and investigators may have 6% job growth for the years 2018 through 2028. These workers made an average annual wage of $64,730 in 2019.
Fire protection degrees are available as undergraduate and graduate degree programs, in which areas of study include topics like physics, chemistry, fire testing and modeling, heat and mass transfer theories, fire risk, and fire management. Licensure is available in various credentials.