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August 20, 2012 / NextStepU

Major Monday – Fire science

When you were younger, you might have dreamed of saving lots of people by becoming a firefighter. If you still have kept that dream alive and want to further your education, you might want to consider majoring in fire science. While it’s not required for you to attend higher education in this career field, it may improve your chances of being hired as well as potentially earn you a higher pay.


According to the College Board, a degree in fire science is often earned at the associate’s or certificate levels (two years of schooling). Typical courses that students in this major take include fire prevention, fire behavior and consumption, fire fighting strategy and tactics, hazardous materials operations and first aid/CPR. Courses in this major are often more focused on strategy involving fire issues rather than the actual process of fighting fires. Students may be given mock-scenarios and have to come up with the best plan of action they would take.

What to know before you apply

Students who wish to pursue fire science as a major and eventually take on a career as a firefighter should be physically strong and capable of handling the many physical tolls that a career like this can take. When looking into different schools, students should know what degree they offer (associate’s, certificate or bachelor’s) as well as whether or not they will be getting trained in an actual fire house. Students should also be aware if they will be learning more than just about fire science; if they will also take classes in emergency medical or hazardous waste handling.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters earned an average of $47,270 per year as of 2009. Related careers in the emergency medical/paramedics field earned an average yearly salary of $33,020 as of 2009.


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