Most firefighter programs require only a high school diploma, but if you want to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants, you might want to consider getting an accelerated fire science degree online.
Although having an online fire science associate’s degree is recommended for firefighters, taking a traditional or online fire science bachelor’s degree can help set you up for promotions. You may climb the firefighting career ladder to fire chief, fire inspector, fire safety officer, fire prevention officer, and fire investigator.
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If you want to start a firefighting career, a fire science degree may get you noticed and accepted to a training program. If you are already working as a firefighter, going for your fire science degree can help you go further in your career.
Types of Accelerated Fire Science Degree Programs
Fire science is just a general term for an advanced degree in fire fighting. The types of degrees will vary by each school as well as by the area that you want to pursue.
- Bachelor of Science in Fire Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services
- Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Administration and Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Fire Science
With your degree, you may be ready for the next step on the career ladder.
Accelerated Fire Science Degree Programs Overview
A fire science degree can help prepare you for a field that is becoming increasingly professional. It’s not just about fighting fires anymore. Fires are bigger than they have ever been and can be more complex. Your degree can teach you skills like:
- Facilitation and team organization
Your degree may get you ready for advancement and management roles. The classes you will take may give you the knowledge you need so you can handle these more complex situations.
- Analytical Approaches to Fire Protection
- Critical Incident Management
- Disaster Recovery and Mitigation
- Fire Behavior and Combustion
- Fire Leadership and Ethics
- Fire Prevention
- Fire Protection Systems
- Management of Fire Related Human Behavior
- Multi-Agency Incident Command
- Natural Disaster Phenomena for Emergency Services
- Regulatory Issues in Fire and Emergency Service
These classes may provide the knowledge and skills you need to stay safe and excel in your career.
Careers with an Accelerated Fire Science Degree
A frontline firefighter is not the only career you can pursue with a fire science degree. Most likely you will start here to gain experience, but there are many other directions you may go. You may consider working in the following areas:
- Emergency Management
- Emergency Medical Service Management
- Federal Government programs with DHS, FEMA, HHS and DOT
- Fire Department Management
- Insurance Companies
- Private industries, such as oil companies
- State Government programs
With such a wide range of jobs available, it is not surprising that there is a predicted job increase of 6% over the next 10 years. Jobs in emergency management are becoming more necessary as situations become more complex.
The big questions is: how much does it pay?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the fire science field include:
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Fire Prevention and Protection Engineers||$94,240|
|Emergency Management Directors||$76,250|
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$64,610|
|Construction and Building Inspectors||$62,860|
|Forensic Science Technicians||$60,590|
|Occupational Health and Safety Technicians||$53,340|
|Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists||$42,150|
|Forest and Conservation Technicians||$38,940|
Besides your degree, your pay will also vary depending on your experience and location.
The Benefits of Online Accelerated Fire Science Degree Programs
If you are still waiting to get into firefighting, you know that you will have to take written, physical and psychological exams to be admitted to a firefighting training program. You need to get your degree sooner rather than later. An accelerated program online can help.
Start when you want. Most universities offer new start dates each month.
Finish faster. In traditional college programs, you sit in class for 16 weeks to earn 3 credits. An accelerated online class offers you the option of completing your class twice as fast. There is still a set start date and a date for when you will have to finish each class, but you may burn through credits twice as fast.
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Work according to your schedule. Instead of going to class at a certain time, you may log on and complete your coursework whenever you want. No driving to the school either!
3 Ways to Accelerate Your Fire Science Degree Even More
It typically takes 120 college credits (at least!) to get your degree, and that takes most people 4 years. These 3 powerful and yet simple techniques may burn years off your degree completion time.
1. Test Out of College Classes (Save Up to 1 Year)
Instead of taking classes, you may just skip to the end and take the exam. This is a thing that almost all colleges will give you credit for.
If you already are familiar with the concepts of a class like Mathematics, why bother sitting through the intro class to earn the credit? The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) might set you up to earn up to 30 credits just by taking the exams.
Each exam costs $89. You can register online and get the study guide. Once you feel you have studied enough, you head in and take the exam. You have 90 minutes to complete 100 multiple-choice questions. If you get 50% right, you may walk out with 3 credits. 90 minutes equals 3 credits instead of a class that takes weeks to complete.
2. Get College Credit for Your Life and Work Experience (Save Up to 1 Semester)
What did you do before you started your fire science degree? Your previous life and work experience could make you eligible for more credit without taking the class.
Military experience is a huge opportunity to earn college credit. The American Council of Education works together with the US military to provide recommendations for credit based on your military service.
If you don’t have military experience, you may still be able to get college credits faster by applying for Credit for Prior Learning through your employment and past experiences. You can fill out a portfolio listing your credentials and how you have already met the requirements of certain classes. If you’re approved, you are granted credit for the classes. You may earn up to 15 credits with this method.
3. Stay Continuously Enrolled with the Max Course Load
The first two ideas are for credit without taking classes. But now you have to buckle down and take those remaining classes.
You might think it is normal to only take 5 classes, or 15 credits each semester. That means you earn 30 credits per year.
That is normal, but it is not the only way. Most universities will let you take up to 6 classes, or 18 credits, each semester. Also, did you know that schools don’t shut down all summer? You might have the option of taking online classes right through the summer semester, earning you another 18 credits.
Working overtime year-round might net you 54 credits in 12 months instead of 30.
Bonus: Transferring Your Existing College Credits
If you have taken any previous college classes, you might be able to still use that credit you earned for your fire science degree.
Two rules to follow:
- You earned the credit from an accredited school
- You got at least a C in the class
Even if your old class doesn’t fit into your new degree, you may still use it to fill an elective spot. That’s still one less class to take and pay for!
How to Lower Tuition Costs
If you want to save money on tuition, you may try and take fewer classes. If you use Credit by Exam to earn 30 credits, you are only paying $890 instead of the cost of tuition. Submitting a portfolio for Credit for Prior Learning may cost you $1,500 in processing, but you may also earn 15 credits. Taking those classes would have cost you thousands of dollars.
The next step is to file for financial aid. When you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll see what the federal government will approve you for in grants and loans. You can then apply for aid from:
- State funds
- University scholarships
- Private organization scholarships
- Employer assistance
All of these sources of funding can add up and may be worth looking into.
Fire Science Degree Accreditation
The one shortcut you should never take is to get a degree from an unaccredited school. Reliable schools will be recognized by other universities and by future employers. That is important.
Your college or university should be regionally accredited. You can also look for your specific program within the school to be accredited by one of these national specialty boards:
- Fire Administration and the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) program.
- The International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC)
Accreditation from a regional board and one of these program-specific boards offers you the protection of knowing your degree is valid.
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Questions Related to Earning a Fire Science Degree
Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Fire Science?
If you enroll in a traditional on-campus program, it will probably take you a full 4 years to earn the necessary 120 credits. You may, however, be able to finish in 18-24 months if you test out of classes, submit a portfolio for prior learning, and take accelerated classes year-round.
What Can I Do with a Degree in Fire Science?
Most Fire Science graduates will work with local fire departments, but you may also find employment in the private sector, working for companies that deal in flammable materials, such as oil companies.
Where Can I Get a Fire Science Degree?
More colleges and universities are offering this degree. You may earn a Fire Science degree on campus through a 4 year degree plan, or you may take the same classes online and finish in about half the time.
What College Has the Best Fire Science Program?
It depends. But it will be wise to choose programs that are accredited at the regional and national levels. The university should have regional accreditation across all of its programs. The Fire Science program should also be accredited by either the Fire Administration and the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) program or the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).
Answer the Call of Duty!
Fire fighting is a serious and risky business. But it’s also no longer just about fighting fires. It is more than that. It is public education, fire inspections, training, and community outreach to teach fire prevention. It’s about knowing the causes of fires and how to make lasting changes to communities.
If you use the tips above and enroll in an accelerated fire science degree program, you might be able to finish in as soon as 18 months from your start date so you can begin pursuing the career you feel called to.