Best Online Associate in Fire Science Degrees for 2023

Associates Degree in Fire Science Career Options & Salary

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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. Luckily, despite the hands-on aspect of firefighting and other careers in this field, there are 100% online degrees available for fire science. There are also hybrid options for those who are looking for more of a hands-on element, which offer online and in-person learning.

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There are many positive attributes to completing an online or traditional 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 fire science 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. There are also 100% online bachelor's in fire science management.

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. Online bachelor's programs can allow you to continue to work and make a living while you earn your degree.


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, even if you choose to earn online. 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.

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What are the Best Online Fire Science Associate Programs?


American Public University System

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$7,360
    • Out-of-State:$7,360
  • Net Price:$11,916
  • Retention Rate:98%
  • Graduation Rate:49%
  • Total Enrollment:50,047
  • Undergrad Students:40,362
  • Graduate Students:9,685
  • Diplomas Awarded:54
  • Grads Salary:$37,500
  • Student-to-faculty:23:1
  • American Public University System

Bucks County Community College

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$9,098
    • Out-of-State:$13,298
  • Net Price:$7,312
  • Retention Rate:67%
  • Graduation Rate:25%
  • Total Enrollment:6,988
  • Undergrad Students:6,988
  • Graduate Students:0
  • Diplomas Awarded:6
  • Grads Salary:$44,900
  • Student-to-faculty:15:1
  • Bucks County Community College

Casper College

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$3,480
    • Out-of-State:$8,520
  • Net Price:$6,373
  • Retention Rate:64%
  • Graduation Rate:40%
  • Total Enrollment:3,551
  • Undergrad Students:3,551
  • Graduate Students:0
  • Diplomas Awarded:17
  • Grads Salary:$39,300
  • Student-to-faculty:14:1
  • Casper College

Lake Superior College

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$5,616
    • Out-of-State:$5,616
  • Net Price:$13,737
  • Retention Rate:57%
  • Graduation Rate:40%
  • Total Enrollment:4,762
  • Undergrad Students:4,762
  • Graduate Students:0
  • Diplomas Awarded:5
  • Grads Salary:$42,900
  • Student-to-faculty:20:1
  • Lake Superior College

Idaho State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$7,872
    • Out-of-State:$25,326
  • Net Price:$13,012
  • Retention Rate:63%
  • Graduation Rate:39%
  • Total Enrollment:11,766
  • Undergrad Students:9,575
  • Graduate Students:2,191
  • Diplomas Awarded:4
  • Grads Salary:$42,100
  • Student-to-faculty:13:1
  • Idaho State University

Waldorf University

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$23,666
    • Out-of-State:$23,666
  • Net Price:$20,345
  • Retention Rate:26%
  • Graduation Rate:52%
  • Total Enrollment:3,025
  • Undergrad Students:2,523
  • Graduate Students:502
  • Diplomas Awarded:40
  • Grads Salary:$43,900
  • Student-to-faculty:25:1
  • Waldorf University

Columbia Southern University

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$5,775
    • Out-of-State:$5,775
  • Net Price:$11,241
  • Retention Rate:62%
  • Graduation Rate:30%
  • Total Enrollment:18,533
  • Undergrad Students:13,254
  • Graduate Students:5,279
  • Diplomas Awarded:486
  • Grads Salary:$43,100
  • Student-to-faculty:39:1
  • Columbia Southern University

Middlesex Community College

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$4,476
    • Out-of-State:$13,428
  • Net Price:$3,708
  • Retention Rate:47%
  • Graduation Rate:21%
  • Total Enrollment:2,106
  • Undergrad Students:2,106
  • Graduate Students:0
  • Diplomas Awarded:NA
  • Grads Salary:$43,500
  • Student-to-faculty:13:1
  • Middlesex Community College

John Wood Community College

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$8,190
    • Out-of-State:$8,190
  • Net Price:$6,601
  • Retention Rate:68%
  • Graduation Rate:44%
  • Total Enrollment:1,881
  • Undergrad Students:1,881
  • Graduate Students:0
  • Diplomas Awarded:9
  • Grads Salary:$34,000
  • Student-to-faculty:13:1
  • John Wood Community College

Northcentral Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State:$3,723
    • Out-of-State:$5,415
  • Net Price:$10,011
  • Retention Rate:61%
  • Graduation Rate:36%
  • Total Enrollment:5,939
  • Undergrad Students:5,939
  • Graduate Students:0
  • Diplomas Awarded:1
  • Grads Salary:$38,400
  • Student-to-faculty:11:1
  • Northcentral Technical College
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Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Fire Science

  • Purdue Global

    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.

    Degrees Offered:

    • 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.

    Degrees Offered:

    • 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.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Fire Science
    • Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Management
  • Keiser University
    Anywhere, USA

    Keiser's goal with their fire science degree is to prepare certified firefighters for management positions. Since their fire science degree program is online, working fire professionals can easily schedule courses around their time in the station.

    Degrees Offered:

    • 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.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Applied Science in Fire Service Technology
    • Bachelor of Science in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology

Certificate vs. Associates

An online 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 toward an online associate degree as long as the certification is accredited, which not all are. 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. Certifications are available through online and campus options.

What Fire Science Associate Degrees are Available Online?

  • 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 fire science 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 fire science 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.

Admission Requirements

To enter an online 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 an online Fire Science Associate?

An Online 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

  • Firefighter:
    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 $48,400.
  • 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 $52,100.
  • 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 $79,700.
  • 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 $61,200.
  • Forester:
    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 $52,000.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why might you want to earn a fire science degree?

A fire science degree can help those who wish to work as firefighters, fire investigators, or emergency management professionals (especially if they work in areas where wildfires are a regular occurrence). Those who already work as firefighters could earn this degree to help them gain promotions or to move into an investigatory field. After all, those who are ready to step out of the most dangerous part of the job might want to move into a field where their wealth of knowledge can not only be put to the best use, but also added to. Moving into arson investigation can give you exactly this. And those who want to help on a larger scale can move into emergency management, where their knowledge of fire gained over many years can help them during an emergency, and the knowledge gained in the classroom can help them direct resources in the most efficient way possible. So, whether you are already working in this area or are looking for a career where you can help during a crisis, fire science might be the perfect degree for you.

Does having a degree help with firefighting?

In most places, firefighters must have EMT certification. This is because they are often the first on a scene where people might be injured or suffering from smoke inhalation. They also might come across victims in a burning building and having this knowledge can help them determine the best way to move them from the building without injuring them further. Because of the requirement for EMT certification, a degree will not only help you, but it may be required. After all, EMTs and paramedics must complete a degree in order to earn certification. So, if you are considering a degree because you wish to work as a firefighter, there is good reason to earn your degree in something that will provide you with greater knowledge in your field while also preparing you for the certification you need.

What is the national fire academy and how is it associated with my fire science degree?

The National Fire Academy (NFA), established by Congress in 1970, is an important institution for firefighters and those aspiring to become a part of the firefighting industry. The NFA provides specialized training and educational programs for fire personnel from every state and territory in the United States. By attending the academy's courses, students are able to gain advanced knowledge of firefighting techniques that they may not be able to learn on their own or at their local department. One way that NFA is associated with a degree in Fire Science is through its certification program. This program allows students to earn certifications such as Firefighter I and II as well as Hazardous Materials Technician. By achieving these certifications, individuals can demonstrate a high level of expertise that employers look for when hiring new employees.

Can I earn my fire science degree online?

Earning a degree in fire science can be an important step towards success in the field. A Fire Science Degree allows individuals to develop knowledge, skills, and expertise that are necessary for a successful career. Those who are considering earning a degree may wonder if they can do so online. The answer is yes - it is possible to earn a fire science degree online. With an online program, individuals can access the same quality education from home and on their own schedule.

The curriculum of an online fire science degree typically covers topics such as fire safety, fire prevention, fire services, hazardous materials management, building construction, emergency services, fire investigation and administration of fire departments. Through online classes and interactive technology platforms, students learn how to assess situations quickly while responding effectively to emergencies. Additionally, they are provided with applicable management techniques that position them for leadership roles within the field.

With the knowledge gained through an online degree program in fire science, graduates are well-equipped to take advantage of career advancement opportunities or pursue higher levels of education if desired.

Will I learn about fire prevention and emergency services while earning my fire science online degree?

Firefighters are essential to providing us with safety and security. They dedicate their lives and livelihoods to helping those in need, often selflessly putting their own safety at risk. Becoming a firefighter requires specialized training in fire science and emergency services. Earning an online degree in fire science provides an opportunity for aspiring firefighters to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for pursuing a career in this field.

While earning a degree in fire science, students learn about the different types of fires, fire prevention, and how to respond quickly during emergencies. Firefighters must understand fire behavior so they can recognize potentially dangerous situations early on and make decisions that could save lives or property. Additionally, through the fire science programs, they are taught fire safety and the various techniques used for extinguishing fires as well as how to properly operate rescue vehicles during hazardous conditions.

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