Online fire science degrees furnish a broad skill set applicable to leadership roles in fire services, public safety, and emergency management. These programs help students build technical and administrative competencies while deepening field knowledge.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters earn a median salary of $50,850 per year. Graduates with a fire science degree may also work as fire inspectors and investigators and earn a median annual salary of $60,230. Additional careers for graduates in this field include fire protection engineer and fire marshal.
Fire science professionals benefit from strong job growth potential. For example, the BLS projects demand for firefighters to increase by 6% between 2019-2029 and demand for fire inspectors and investigators to increase by 8% in the same period.
Our guide ranks the top online fire science programs in the country. It also covers the benefits of earning an online fire science degree, as well as scholarship opportunities for fire science students.
Is a fire science degree worth it?
Yes, a degree in fire science can help aspiring firefighters stand out in the job market. It may also qualify current professionals for promotion to senior positions.
What degree is best for firefighting?
Associate and bachelor's degrees benefit early- and mid-career firefighters. Promotion beyond battalion chief, and positions like fire marshal, typically require a bachelor's degree or higher.
Do firefighters with degrees get paid more?
Earning a fire science degree can help firefighters advance to higher-paid positions. Some fire departments offer supplemental compensation for employees with an associate or bachelor's degree.
How long do firefighters go to school?
Online fire science degrees at the associate level typically require two years of full-time study. Bachelor's degrees typically require four years, or about two years for transfer students with an associate degree.
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Online fire science degrees often cater to students with professional or volunteer firefighting experience. These programs develop advanced understanding of fire protection, safety, prevention, and suppression. Distance learning programs offer a flexible and convenient path to earning a fire science degree.
Students build administrative competencies through coursework exploring field-specific practices in human resource management, budgeting, and strategic planning. Learners also study topics like fire research application, fire-related human behavior, and political and legal issues affecting the field. Some programs offer concentrations in areas such as fire safety, fire protection, and occupational safety.
Why Get a Fire Science Degree?
A fire science degree allows students to enhance their professional skills, rise within the profession, and make a positive impact on their communities.
- Prepare for Certification
- A bachelor's degree in fire science fulfills the educational requirements for the National Fire Academy's executive fire officer certification program. Managing officer certification candidates need an associate degree.
- Increased Salary
- Early-career firefighters typically earn under $43,000 annually. Earning a degree can lead to advancement and higher pay. Fire captains, for example, earn about $71,000 per year, on average.
- Career Mobility
- An online fire science degree can position graduates for promotions. The degree also prepares current firefighters for a career shift to areas such as fire inspection.
- Rewarding Work
- A recent survey found that firefighting holds the highest job satisfaction rate among U.S. industries. Firefighters cited camaraderie and dedication to their mission as positive aspects of the job.
- Community Engagement
- Fire departments play an important public safety education role. They often partner with community organizations, schools, and media to raise fire safety and risk reduction awareness.
What Are the Requirements for a Fire Science Degree?
Admission requirements for online fire science programs vary by institution. Associate programs may only require a high school or GED diploma. Many bachelor's-level programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and transcripts.
Colleges may also require applicants to hold fire science experience, professional certifications, and/or a minimum GPA. Many master's programs require a bachelor's degree in fire science or a related field.
Best Online Fire Science Degrees 2021
Professional organizations allow online fire science degree candidates to expand their knowledge and skills, connect with established professionals, and shape their profession through volunteerism and advocacy. Members can often attend national and local events, participate in online communities, and access cutting-edge research and trends in their field.
NFPA develops fire and electrical safety codes and standards, spearheads public outreach programs, and administers certifications for fire inspectors and related professions. Members can attend networking events, submit papers to NFPA's publications, and participate in its mentorship program.
IAFF represents over 324,000 firefighters and paramedics across the United States and Canada. An active trade union and lobbying organization, the association promotes innovation in fire and emergency services, convenes at an annual conference, and provides continuing education resources. Members must hold full-time employment in fire, emergency medical, or rescue services.
Dedicated to supporting and advocating for women firefighters, Women in Fire provides resources, tools, and education focused on achieving gender equality in fire services. Its programs include fire camps for young women and a mentorship program for members.
Scholarships for Fire Science Students
Learners pursuing online fire science degrees can take advantage of scholarships to help offset the cost of their education. Many scholarships award students in particular geographic areas, while others accept applications nationwide. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for fire science students.
Who Can Apply: Future Fighters awards the scholarship to learners preparing for careers as firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs. Applicants must submit an essay, interview a local firefighter, and submit transcripts.
Who Can Apply: Established in memory of police officer Collin Rose, the scholarship provides financial assistance to students planning careers in mediation, dispute resolution, criminal justice, law enforcement, paramedic services, and firefighting. Applicants must live in Michigan and hold a 2.5 GPA or higher.
Who Can Apply: The Pearl Mae Foundation sponsors scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in healthcare and first responder fields. Applicants must submit transcripts, an essay, recommendations, and financial information. Applicants from South Florida receive priority consideration.
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