Degree programs train students about fire prevention, suppression, and safety. Students participate in classroom lectures as well as hands-on activities; bachelor's degrees are more likely to incorporate internships into the curriculum. Those interested in administrative positions, such as fire marshal, can pursue bachelor's degrees. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry into associate's and bachelor's degree programs, as well as SAT or ACT scores in some cases.
Fire Science Associate Degree Program
Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degree programs in fire science can prepare students for the workforce. In these programs, students gain the skills necessary to recognize potential fire hazards, rescue victims, and extinguish fires using chemicals and other suppression methods. Some degree programs also include emergency medical technician (EMT) training as part of the fire science coursework. Degree programs cover topics related to emergency response protocols, fire safety, and fire fighting techniques. Courses commonly include:
- Fire codes and standards
- Incident management
- Building construction
- Alarm systems
- Extinguishing technologies
- Fire chemistry
Bachelor of Science in Fire Science
At the bachelor's degree level, fire science degree programs may specialize in preparing students for more administrative or technical positions within the fire fighting industry. Graduates have typically gained the vital leadership skills necessary for directing teams of fire fighters, planning citywide fire prevention tactics, and running in-depth arson investigations. Some programs also provide advanced coursework concerning engineering and construction issues related to fire prevention and safety.
These degree programs cover topics about fire safety and prevention, but they also include subjects such as human resources management and legal policies. In order to graduate, students may be required to participate in fire science internships. Common coursework in these programs includes:
- Fire behavior and combustion
- Fire scene operations
- Fire protection hydraulics
- Hazardous materials
- Industrial fire protection
- Company supervision
Popular Career Options
Fire science degree programs prepare professionals for more than just becoming fire fighters. Employment opportunities related to fire prevention and investigation are also available. Other job titles graduates might achieve include:
- Arson investigator
- Fire safety building inspector
- Fire equipment specialist
- Forest fire inspector
Although many professionals who earn degrees in fire science start off as fire fighters, they may advance into management positions at the city, state, and federal levels. A bachelor's degree can assist in this promotion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Popular career titles include:
- Fire department chief
- Fire safety director
- Hazardous materials inspector
Before being hired, the majority of fire departments require applicants to pass physical fitness and mental acuity tests. As the fire science industry changes, workers will need to attend continued education training seminars that cover topics such as disaster-handling techniques, fire safety education, fire science technologies, and fire prevention strategies.
Fire science degrees are offered at the associate's and bachelor's level, educating students in core aspects of fire safety and extinguishing techniques as well as administrative topics in the case of bachelor's programs. These degrees can help students on their way to entering several fire-related careers in addition to firefighting.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the employment of firefighters would rise by 5% and of fire inspectors by 8% between 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the median salary for firefighters was $50,850 and for fire inspectors it was $60,230 as of 2019.