Is a Fire Science Degree for You?
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This degree is for those who are interested in a career related to firefighting, protection and prevention. Fire science degree holders have devoted a lot of their academic career to understanding the physics of fire and how to manage it. Much of the fire science curriculum focuses on controlling a variety of blazes, clearing smoke-filled buildings, rescuing victims in fires and other accidents, and handling flammable, hazardous materials. Students will study practical techniques for fighting fires and learn how to properly handle and use extinguishers, chain saws, hydrants and other tools. Another major concentration of fire science is emergency preparedness and response.
Students will learn how to enter burning buildings, rescue victims and administer CPR and other emergency treatments when necessary. Fire science majors will also study the chemical properties of fire and the chemical process of combustion. Once they have covered the basics of fire science and suppression, students are introduced to fire analysis and investigation, which are necessary for fire science majors who want to become property loss claims investigators, fire equipment and systems designers or building code inspectors.
Advice for Earning Your Fire Science Degree Online
Earning your fire science degree online is an excellent choice for those who have to balance school with work and family demands. Online fire science degrees are just as authentic and competitive as traditional, on-campus ones, right down to the same rigorous curriculum and high standards imposed on traditional students. The programs can be completed either fully or partially online, and some may require students to attend local campuses for exams and live demonstrations. Students may be required to work shifts at fire stations to gain hands-on training and firefighting skills. Online programs also offer certification opportunities and additional fire science concentrations. There are several different online fire science programs, but it is crucial that students enroll in one that has been approved by an accrediting group backed by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
In addition to mandatory general study course work, most fire science programs require students to take classes in fire protection, prevention, administration, investigation, hazardous materials operations, first aid and CPR. These classes give students a comprehensive look at firefighting, emergency management, safety technology and building construction. The knowledge and skills students gain in these courses will directly relate to their fire science jobs.
Common Career Paths
Fire science graduates can choose from a number of career opportunities, which include (but are not limited to):
Firefighters are often the first to respond to the scenes of car accidents and natural disasters. They work to expand public awareness of personal fire safety by visiting schools and community centers. Certain firefighters train to deal with hazardous waste emergencies and forest blazes. Most firefighters earn a high school diploma; however, those who earn a degree in fire science can have better career options and may be more often sought out by departments looking to hire career firefighters who can take on many responsibilities. In addition to having a degree in fire science, firefighters undergo training at an academy, where they put to practice the concepts they learned earning their degree. They also often earn emergency medical technician certification to prepare them to help injured people. They are expected to have good employment prospects in the next few years, though job candidates face stiff competition. Employment of firefighters is expected to increase 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. In 2010, the median annual salary for firefighters was $45,250, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fire inspectors travel around the areas of their jurisdiction to examine buildings to ensure that they are up to local and state fire code standards. They check exits and entrances, test fire extinguishers and other preventive systems, and make sure proper procedures are implemented during drills. Fire inspectors also evaluate and approve plans for new buildings and inspect the development of them to make sure that any new construction is up to code.
Fire inspector employment is projected to expand 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. Job prospects will probably match the pace of urban development. Competition for these jobs will be stiff, so it makes sense to make your candidacy as attractive as possible by earning a degree in fire science. In 2010, fire inspectors and investigators earned a median annual salary of $52,230, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although fire inspectors examine factors that could lead to blazes or affect what happens if a fire occurs, they also look into what caused a fire. They interview witnesses, examine and catalog evidence, and write reports about what they believe caused the blaze. They are especially useful in cases where arson or other criminal activity is suspected. Like fire inspectors, fire investigators also generally earn a high school diploma before taking the job; however, they can often improve their chances of receiving an offer if they have studied fire science and earned a bachelor's degree.
Employment of fire investigators is forecast to increase 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. Fire investigators and inspectors earned a median salary of $52,230 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.