Overview of an Associate Fire Science Degree
Fire science is the study of fire prevention and fire protection, emergency response, and investigation into how fires start and spread. In this era of increasing forest fires, drought, and other poor conditions, the reality of destructive fires has been brought closer than ever. Like so many other fields, our response to fires increasingly relies on technology and scientific measures. For this reason, fire science programs have proliferated to train the professionals we need, to prepare for and respond to fires of all sorts.
If you are interested in this fascinating, and much-needed field, this will help you prepare for an associate degree program in fire science, and the brilliant career to follow.Read More
An Associate degree program in fire science will help you prepare for your first job. When you seek out fire science degree programs, you should affirm that your school is accredited. For fire science, you'll also want to find a program that is part of Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE), which is part of the U.S. Fire Administration, a part of FEMA. You can find fully accredited and FESHE-approved programs, both on traditional campuses and even some online fire science options.
Full accreditation, plus FESHE status, will ensure that you can launch the career of your dreams in fire service. When your associate fire science degree is accredited, you will be able to later apply your credits to a bachelor's degree in fire science because you will have already completed much of the required general education courses and some major coursework. The FESHE-approved status can help students gain access to career opportunities and even leadership roles with the U.S. Fire Service, U.S. Fire Administration, or your local Fire Department. In sum, these credentials are vital to your success.
Associate degree programs in fire science offer learning through general education and major coursework in a variety of subjects, including:
- Fire Behavior and Combustion
- Building Inspection
- Fire Prevention
- Fire Protection
- Fire Science Technology
- Fire Administration
- Fire and Emergency Management
- And More
There are many positive attributes to completing an associate degree program in fire science. For one thing, a two-year degree can help launch you into career opportunities in only two years. Your degree will help you stand out in the pack of applicants and will help you garner a higher salary than someone with no degree, or who has only completed a certificate program.
An associate fire science program also establishes your standing in academia. If your program is fully accredited, you can apply for a bachelor's degree in fire science when the time comes. You may even be a more desirable candidate for that bachelor's degree since you'll bring loads of experience into the classroom if you've already been working in building inspection, fire protection, or fire prevention.
In fact, when you alternate work with education, your long-term career may greatly benefit. For example, when you eventually complete a bachelor's degree program, you'll also have experience under your belt. Your fellow bachelor's degree recipients will be significantly behind your earning potential and may not have the same career opportunities or access to leadership roles that you will have.
Though an associate degree can be a great benefit to future firefighting professionals, it does have drawbacks. For one thing, if you only have an associate degree, your earnings are likely to cap off at a certain point. Most government salaries are gauged according to your degree and other specific measures. Your experience will count, too, but it can only take you so far. You may also find that a two-year degree holds you back from job titles that those with a four-year degree land with ease.
Also, consider how difficult it will be to return to school after you are entrenched with your career and family. If you push through to a four-year degree without stopping with an AS degree, you won't have as much to worry about. If you attain a bachelor's degree, when you return to school it will be for your master's.
Certificate vs. Associates
A certificate is yet another option for your career in fire science. In fact, many associate degree programs offer a certificate option. While these are a great way to quickly gain academic credentials that you can apply in the workforce, a certificate is never as good as an actual degree. That said, you can likely take more courses and use your certificate training towards an associate degree. On the other hand, if you do have a degree in some other field and realize that you have a passion for fire science, you can always return to school for a certificate to add to your existing list of credentials.
What Fire Science Associate Degrees are Available?
- Associate of Science in Fire Science:
An AS in Fire Science generally implies that your degree coursework will exclusively focus on scientific and analytical topics. Other degree types might include other topics related to public policy, management, or leadership.
- Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science:
Applied Science degrees are generally designed to prepare you for the working world. They are fantastic when you are certain that you won't want a four-year degree later on. However, you should discuss your AAS credits with an admissions counselor, because their program might strive to create courses that transfer to BS programs with ease.
- Associate of Arts in Fire Science:
This degree is less common in the fire science world but is no less valid. An AA program might offer courses that are less strictly scientific, such as courses in public fire policy, or the health impacts of fire. If your AA program is regionally accredited and associated with FESHE, you should be able to not only land a job after graduation, but transfer credits to a later baccalaureate program.
To enter an associate program in fire science, you will need to have a high school diploma, letters of recommendation, and an admissions essay that details your motivations and goals for your future firefighting career. You might not even need a diploma, as many community colleges will accept an equivalency degree. However, you should be prepared to take or test out of remedial coursework prior to diving fully into your degree.
Keep in mind that every school and department may have its own admissions requirements. In fact, some require that you already be a certified firefighter prior to applying. However, almost anyone should be able to enter and complete a fire science program if you're willing to put in the effort required.
How long does it take to earn a Fire Science Associate?
Associate's Degrees in Fire Science are designed to take two years to complete. That assumes that you are able to maintain a full load of classes, and that all of your required courses are available when you need them. However, students have been known to take three to four years to complete an associate degree.
Try to avoid taking much more than two years for your degree. Though work and family obligations might take your time and attention, do what you can to allay those concerns and focus on your degree. If you want fire science to be your long-term career, short-term matters will need to take a lower priority.
Potential Careers in Fire Science with an Associates
You are likely to start your fire science career as a firefighter. If you have your associate degree, or even a certificate in fire science, you will be far ahead of your peers. Your job duties are sure to be the same as your fellows, but you might find that your salary is a bit above the average, which is around $52,100.
- Fire Inspector:
Your academic background in fire science will help you become a fire inspector, who ensures that buildings are adequately prepared for fires. Fire inspectors also might investigate suspicious fires. Most in this profession work for municipal fire departments, but you could also possibly find a job with an insurance agency and verify large fire claims. The average pay for a fire inspector is currently $52,300.
- Fire Chief:
After several years as a fire fighter, you might be able to work your way all the way to the top as a fire chief. You will certainly need a degree in fire science to reach this point. In fact, you may even need a graduate degree to ensure that you are fully qualified to lead an entire fire department. The current average salary for a fire chief is $75,000.
- Fire Lieutenant:
This might be your first job in a supervisory capacity. Considering that most in this position have little formal education beyond a high school diploma, your Associate Degree in Fire Science will likely help you achieve this leadership position faster than most. Fire lieutenants make an average salary of $59,400.
Your job, as a forester, will be to help protect the forest from all sorts of encroaching elements. You might also spend a great deal of time collecting data and repairing damage from wear and tear. A degree or certificate in fire science will help you protect the forest from a fiery disaster. Foresters currently earn an average salary of $51,000.
Options to Advance
Fire science professionals generally advance based on their time on the job. Your degree will help, however, when you are seeking a promotion. Given that most firefighters have little or no formal education, your Associate Degree in Fire Science will put you far above the pack. In fact, if you are already working as a firefighter, you can likely find time to take online classes in the fire station while waiting on calls.
Best Associate of Science in Fire Science Programs
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, KS
Johnson County Community College will prepare you for success with an Associate of Arts in Fire Services Administration. They are accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC), which will serve you well as you rise through the ranks of your fire department.
- Associate of Arts in Fire Services Administration
Rockland Community College
Rockland Community College is prepared to offer two options for students who desire a career as firefighting professionals. You can choose an AAS degree that will put you to work immediately, or an AS degree that is designed for students who aspire to baccalaureate degrees, or more.
- Associate of Science in Fire Science Technology
- Associate of Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology
Glendale Community College
Glendale Community College offers a degree in Emergency Response and Operations with a focus on Fire Operations. This degree will put you in a position to take a broader role in the event of a widespread emergency.
- Associate of Applied Science – Fire Operations Emphasis
- Associate of Applied Science – Emergency Response and Operations
Rio Hondo College
Rio Hondo is the school you need to attend if your goal is to work in emergency response, corrections, or fire services. They also offer degrees in homeland security. Once you have completed your degree in fire technology, you will have the credentials necessary to succeed over a long career.
- Associate of Science in Fire Technology
- Associate of Science in Homeland Security
Health Career Institute
West Palm Beach, FL
The Florida State Fire College has given their stamp of approval to HCI's Fire Science degree program. Keep in mind that you will need to be a certified firefighter in order to apply. This degree is for dedicated firefighters who seek more from their career.
- Associate of Science in Fire Science
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Fire Science
Purdue University is a world-class university that offers a plethora of degrees to students worldwide. Their online platform means that you can study for an associate or bachelor's degree from anywhere in the world.
- Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science
- Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Management
Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University is an online institution that offers a fire science degree that is recognized by the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE). Thus, if you are currently working as a firefighter, you can use your time in the firehouse to start boosting your career without altering your schedule in any way.
- Associate of Science in Fire Science
- Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
American Military University
AMU offers an Associate of Science in Fire Science to distance learners worldwide. Since their program(s) are accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, you can likely apply your credits to a future baccalaureate degree.
- Associate of Science in Fire Science
- Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Management
Keiser's goal with their fire science degree is to prepare certified firefighters for management positions. Since their degree program is online, working fire professionals can easily schedule courses around their time in the station.
- Associate of Science in Fire Science
- Associate of Arts in Homeland Security
University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati offers online degrees that will set your firefighting career alight. They offer accelerated 7-week courses that you can do while in the firehouse or at the kitchen table. They also offer 14-week courses and hybrid classes, too.
- Associate of Applied Science in Fire Service Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology
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