Best university degrees and courses for firefighters


More than 300,000 professional firefighters work across the United States. The Department of Labor reports that more than 90 percent of all professional firefighters work for local government. From forests to city skyscrapers, firefighters fight active fires or make emergency medical calls following accidental injuries or disasters. Firefighters work first and foremost to save lives before helping to save millions of dollars a year by protecting property damage.

Some firefighters begin their climb up the proverbial ladder by volunteering with local fire stations, often associated with a high school diploma or GED. Those who want to move up the ladder faster can pursue a degree that will prepare them for careers at the state or federal level. Understanding the different types of firefighter careers and the responsibilities that each entail is the first step in choosing the path that is right for you.

How to become a firefighter

All professional firefighters must undergo advanced training, either at a technical school, university or firefighting academy. Each state and fire agency sets their own hiring qualifications, but one of the best places to learn about firefighter training requirements is to volunteer at the local fire station.

Becoming a professional firefighter is very competitive, but there are ways to stand out from the crowd. Some fire departments will provide opportunities for people to engage in a wide range of volunteer services. You may be asked to help out at the fire station or attend a recruiting table at a local career fair. Volunteering can provide you with much needed practical experience, as well as a networking opportunity. Some agencies in fact require applicants to volunteer or even enroll in approved apprenticeship programs that combine work and training as a firefighter.

The firefighter exam is tough – really tough. Not only do prospects have to complete a written element, but they must also demonstrate that they can function within the physical demands of the job. Many firefighters work long hours under stressful and potentially dangerous conditions. As a general rule, it is necessary to be in generally better physical shape than what is required in most other professions. Make sure you are in good shape before taking the qualifying exams.

Requirements for firefighters

There are many different requirements and prerequisites that must be met before you become a firefighter. First, you have your written exam, your interview, the background check, and the drug test. Then there is an arduous physical performance test, which involves a variety of difficult tasks, such as hauling heavy equipment while climbing long stairs, driving heavy vehicles, and training in emergency preparedness. .

The written exam covers basics such as problem solving, communication, memory and reasoning. There is also a psychological exam that covers personality traits unique to firefighter performance. The interview typically covers career goals, how you see yourself in a career in firefighting, and why you choose that specific agency or department.

Best diplomas for firefighters

Although a degree in fire science is the traditional route for a firefighter, there are many variations of courses for firefighters. Here are some of the best degrees for firefighters pursuing higher education.

Emergency medical technician certificate

In many areas, having an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification is a requirement for firefighters, who are often called in for emergency medical situations. EMT certification requirements vary by state. The National University offers an Emergency Medical Technician Certificate which provides basic foundational knowledge, essential skills and understanding of emergency medical assistance on an outpatient and emergency basis.

Successful completion of the EMT certificate program will allow you to apply for your Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) status card and gain entry-level EMT skills as a member of technical rescue teams or in the part of an allied service such as a fire or police service. .

Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Any situation that requires the attention of firefighters can generally be considered an emergency. At a high level, an emergency management degree provides a solid foundation in best practices for dealing with an impending emergency, as well as for managing operations during and after an emergency. The National University offers an undergraduate program that can prepare you for a variety of emergency preparedness settings, including threat assessment, disaster management, and crisis response management. Pursuing higher education as a firefighter can help you move up through the higher ranks within the department, such as lieutenant, captain, battalion commander, deputy chief, deputy chief, and fire chief.

This program offers ideal courses for firefighters, such as crisis management, disaster management, emergency / disaster response and infrastructure protection.

Master of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

For those who want to climb the ladder much higher, a master’s degree in emergency management might be the path for you. The National University offers a master’s program that helps integrate tools, resources and organizational systems for the successful implementation of emergency management issues. Natural events, such as wildfires in Southern California, are further evidence of the continued need for more specialized knowledge in the area of ​​emergency management. A person with this master’s degree is able to help businesses, governments and private industry prepare for, respond to, and recover from potentially debilitating natural and man-made disasters.

One potential career opportunity arising from this program is an Emergency Management Specialist working for the Department of Agriculture. The salary range for this position is $ 74,596 to $ 115,313. In this role, you would manage emergencies such as forest fires, incidents related to natural hazards and incidents related to hazardous materials. You should also create and implement forest fire incident plans and policies.

Diploma in fire science

Although there is no specific “firefighter’s diploma”, many successful firefighters have successfully completed a fire science diploma. Learning more about the science behind starting and spreading fires can help you evolve into alternative roles in the field, including fire inspectors, fire investigators and fire marshals. Someone who is trained in fire science can also help in forensic science, determining the source of fire related crimes such as arson.

Find the perfect courses for firefighters with the National University

Whether you’re just starting out as a volunteer firefighter or already on the front line, you can earn a diploma or certificate to advance your career. Sound the alarm, because the National University College of Professional Studies offers quality education with flexible options for firefighters. The National University program allows working professionals to enroll in four-week courses, providing a convenient and flexible schedule.

Whichever program you choose, the flexible four-week course schedules allow you to graduate while working and / or volunteering at the fire station. Contact an academic advisor to learn more about the program to take to earn advanced certifications or college degrees that can improve your rank, income, and responsibilities as a firefighter.


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