Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA, has packaged training with education to produce a remarkable double play for the fire service. It serves as a training ground for aspiring firefighters and in the process delivers recruits who have earned associate's degrees to enthusiastic local...
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Education in the Midwest comes in a cornucopia of packages — from programs that offer strictly higher education — to programs that integrate liberal arts with fire training to produce an associate's degree. As with Iowa's Clark, whose program is producing many capable candidates, other professionals in the fire training and education business see fire service jobs becoming increasingly competitive in these austere economic times. "The vast majority will have to try many times with many departments before getting hired," she explains. "They are also told repeatedly that the further they are willing to look geographically, the better their chances." Whether higher education combined with training produces a more attractive recruit is a point still undecided in the Midwest. Yet the strength and diversity of programs provides a rich source of education opportunities for all — regardless of their level of fire or EMS expertise. It's not about winning; it's about how you position yourself for that new job or promotion.
PAUL SNODGRASS, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a firefighter with the Sarasota County, FL, Fire Department and a former fire chief. He is an adjunct fire science instructor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, FL, and Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, CA. Snodgrass holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Augsburg College and a master's degree in education from the University of Phoenix. He has been writing about, designing and teaching online courses since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.