Why pursue a degree in Fire Service Technology?
Often prospective students, or their parents, ask the question; “Many fire departments only require a high school diploma, so why should I get a degree in Fire Science?” Sometimes we also hear; “I’ll “just get an EMT and/or a paramedic license, that’s enough, right?" It’s a fair question. Your future is important and college degrees are expensive and time consuming. So what's the upside? The answer may be more complex than you think. Below are some factors you may wish to consider.
You have roughly four years between the time you graduate and the time that you will meet the typical minimum age requirement (21) to apply for a fire service career. How you spend those years can shape your entire future. It is not unusual for a fire department to have 100+ applicants for each opening. The testing is rigorous and scoring differences between the top candidates and the middle of the pack are often measured in fractions of a percent. With all other qualifications being equal (past job history, criminal record, physical condition, etc.) the person with a Fire Science Technology degree has a definite advantage in landing the job. Although most fire departments only require a high school (or equivalent) education to be considered for employment, they will give greater consideration to the applicant with college courses. Why? Because people who have taken the initiative to further their education demonstrate that they have the self-discipline to do what it takes.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, those with an associate’s degree can expect average lifetime earnings of $1.6 million. Specifically to careers in fire service, most fire departments offer an financial incentive for members who have a college degree. The increase in earnings can be based on a percentage of your current salary or it may be in the form of a yearly bonus. Earning a degree in Fire Science Technology also provides additional income potential by way of promotion within the fire department. Whenever a firefighter is eligible to apply for the next highest rank, having a college degree is always a huge plus. More and more departments are requiring their officers to have a college degree in order to advance among the ranks. The higher the position within the fire service, the higher the salary.
The knowledge that is gained through fire service college courses is invaluable when it comes to being a fire officer. Officers who successfully complete advanced training find that they are better equipped to lead and manage fire personnel. More importantly, safety of the fire crews is increased as a direct result of the officer's additional fire training. As a whole, firefighters who earn a degree have a better chance of advancement within the fire service.
Regardless of what opportunities, challenges, and surprises life holds, an education is always there to serve you. Many current and retired firefighters have second careers that require advanced education. Completing any post-secondary education program and specifically a degree in fire science, can open up many more doors for those looking for a career in fire prevention, fire safety, fire response, or fire investigation.
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What you'll do:
The program is designed to provide you with the training required to be certified as Fire Officer I (certificate/degree) and Fire Officer II (degree program only) or with opportunities to increase your job competence as an employed firefighter. Your associate's degree can give you preference points for entry into the paid sector of the fire service, or qualify you for pay incentives.
Where you'll go:
Firefighters will always be in need in city and county departments; you may also work for departments in federal and state installations, including airports. Progress to higher-level positions with training in the most advanced firefighting equipment and techniques, building construction, emergency medical technology, management and budgeting, labor relations, and other areas.