If you’re passionate about public service and fire safety, a credential in fire science may be the right choice for you. In 2018, fire departments across the United States responded to around 1,318,500 fires. So if you choose a career in this field, your skills and knowledge will be in high demand. Besides enrolling in an academic program, joining the International Association for Fire Safety Science can connect you with resources to help you advance your career.
Fire science degrees are available at all levels — associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. Most associate degree programs are four semesters long, usually taking two years to complete. Courses cover topics such as fire suppression and emergency tactics, fire behavior, and building codes. Students typically have to take some general education courses too, such as computer science, psychology, and math. Associate’s degree programs offer a fast path into the fire science field, making students eligible for entry level jobs for fire science and perhaps even some mid-level positions in the profession. Here’s an overview of possible job opportunities for someone with an associate degree in fire science.
What Are Entry-Level Jobs for Fire Science
In most cases, applicants for entry level jobs for fire science need to have post-secondary training in the field to be considered for employment. This is true even if they will receive additional training on the job. Some positions that may be open to recent graduates of associate degree programs in fire science include:
- Firefighter. Firefighters are tasked with driving fire trucks, putting out fires, and rescuing people from fires and other emergencies. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median pay for firefighters in 2019 was $50,850.
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Provider. People who work in this capacity provide acute care and transportation to patients before they arrive at the hospital for further treatment. Median pay for employees in this position was $35,400 in 2019.
- Law Enforcement Officer. Police officers carry out a variety of roles to protect lives and property. The BLS reports that the 2019 median pay for police and detectives was $65,170.
- Fire Alarm Technician. Technicians in this role are responsible for installing, operating, and maintaining fire alarm systems. Median annual pay for a fire alarm technician in 2020 was $52,408.
- Fire Protection Engineer. Fire protection engineers seek to prevent fires in the first place by inspecting buildings and building plans to identify possible risks. Median salary for this occupation is $85,000.
- Public Safety Telecommunicator. Public safety telecommunications (emergency dispatchers) are responsible for coordinating and overseeing the activities of first responders. Median annual pay for this job: $44,310.
- Wildland Fire Ecologist. Wildland fire ecologists study developments surrounding past fires and how plants and animals have adapted (or not) to them. They seek to follow best practices in fire-prevention when it comes to land management. The entry-level salary for this occupation is $58,474; the average annual pay is $81,646.
With experience, job candidates can put themselves in the running for higher-level fire science associates degree jobs, such as:
- Manager of Client Services: People working in this capacity are responsible for customer service and communication in the fire department. Median pay in this position is $68,513.
- Fire Captain. In this role, professionals are responsible for overseeing department firefighters. They can expect to work 24-hour shifts, during which they manage fire suppression, rescue operations, and other aspects of emergency response. Median compensation for fire captains is $69,303.
- Deputy Fire Chief. This position requires employees to coordinate and oversee emergency response. Job duties include managing and training firefighters. The median salary for deputy fire chiefs is $87,829.
What Else Can I Do with an Associate’s in Fire Science?
An associates degree in fire science jobs is not the only path to entering the profession. With additional experience and education, people with this degree can move into higher positions in the field. An associate degree in fire science can be a stepping stone to a variety of occupations and careers. An associates degree allows aspiring public servants and private sector employees alike to continue their education, earning more advanced degrees and certifications.
Fire science associates degree jobs are a great place to start. They provide the experience and skills needed for a host of other careers, from teaching in a fire science program to managing a fire department. Courses are available both in-person and online. Check with the International Association for Fire Safety Science for news about college courses and conferences in this field. If any of the above-mentioned associate degree jobs in fire science jobs interest you, enrolling in the program that’s right for you can help you meet your goals.