What Are Some Fire Science Career Options?

Whether you want to put fires out, help prevent them or determine their cause, fire science programs can prepare you for a variety of entry-level or managerial positions. Keep reading to learn where fire science can lead you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Opportunities in Fire Science

Common careers within the fire science industry are firefighter, fire inspector, and fire investigator. Firefighters are emergency first responders who work on-call and are often the first to arrive at a fire scene or other emergency. Their duties include rescuing people from burning buildings, providing emergency medical treatments and suppressing the flames. Some firefighters specialize in forest fires. However, firefighters often respond to emergencies, like car accidents, that don't involve fires.

Fire inspectors ensure that buildings' structures, materials, and layout are up to code. They may visit office buildings or large commercial buildings, like shopping centers, ensuring that there are no fire hazards and that sprinklers and alarms are in working order. Fire investigators analyze fire scenes to determine the origin and cause of fires through physical evidence and eyewitness accounts.

Important Facts About Fire Science Careers

Firefighters Fire Inspectors
Professional Certification Voluntary; Executive Fire Officer designation available through the National Fire Academy Voluntary; Certified Fire Inspector (CFI) available through the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) and the Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) from the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI)
Key Skills Physical strength and stamina; courage; clear verbal communication; good judgment and decision making; Critical thinking; attention to detail; physical strength; clear written and spoken communication
Work Environment Federal, state, and local government State and local government; insurance companies; attorneys' offices
Similar Occupations Correctional officers and bailiffs; EMT's and paramedics; police and detectives Private detectives and investigators; firefighters; police and detectives

Education Programs

Fire science certificate and associate degree programs for future firefighters include training in emergency medical procedures and the use of ladders, chainsaws, hoses and other equipment to rescue victims and extinguish fires. Programs may offer you practical training opportunities in combatting real fires. Coursework also explores topics like hazardous materials, how airflow can alter the path of flames and the proper storage and transportation of flammable materials. Graduates can seek entry-level firefighting jobs, but they may need to hold EMT certification and receive additional on-the-job training after attaining a position.

Fire inspectors and investigators typically advance to their positions after beginning their careers in another facet of the fire industry, like firefighting. They may receive a combination of fire academy and on-the-job training to study building codes, learn about how building design flaws can create fire hazards and review methods for determining a fire's origin. You might even explore how people react when faced with fires or discuss arsonists' methods and motivations.

Bachelor's degree programs in fire science are also available, and they may help you advance to an administrative position and prepare you to provide consulting services. This type of program includes courses similar to what's offered in associate degree programs in fire science, with added general education requirements. The curriculum may also include advanced topics in fire company supervision and public safety statistics: you could learn how to manage a fire department's public relations or develop personnel management skills to prevent or alleviate employee flare-ups. Programs may require students to complete an internship before graduating.

Employment Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), competition for firefighting, fire inspection, and fire investigation jobs is expected to have average or faster than average job growth rates. During the 2016-2026 decade, firefighters are expected to experience a 7% growth and fire inspectors would be a slightly better growth rate with 10%. Also for 2018, median salaries for firefighters were reported at $49,620, while fire inspectors made a median salary of $60,200.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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