1. #1

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    Default Help Deciding a Major

    I am ending my freshman year at CSU Long Beach, and have come to a point where I need to decide on my major. I have talked with a couple firefighters and advisers, but there seems to be no one clear answer. I don't expect to find one, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    The majors offered that seem to be best suit:
    -Health Science (Community Health Education)
    -Kinesiology (Exercise Science and Fitness)
    -Communications
    -Any other majors anyone have seen successful in the career?

    I was told public administration was also very good, but we just offer a graduates program here.

    Then I have the question that does it even matter which major I graduate with? Should I just choose one that I would enjoy? Or should I leave and pursue a firefighting degree online or at another school?

    Thank you once again for any advice.

    -Sean

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    I am currently a full time college student about to finish my junior year. The best advice I can give you is the advice given to me by my parents. Major in what you enjoy. If you do that, and you do well, fire departments will recognize the fact that you received your degree and this will help you out regardless of what you major in. In my opinion, almost any major can be related to the fire service in some way - this will help when you get to the point of taking an oral interview. And again I'm going to emphasize this point - make sure you get your degree in something you enjoy because if you get hired as a firefighter after college and you end up getting injured and are not able to return to the job, you will have your degree to fall back on and will be able to get a job doing something you enjoy.

    Good luck and stay safe.
    Last edited by GFD1FF; 04-29-2009 at 08:59 PM.

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    Having a degree is a great achievement to have under your belt. It shows ability to commit to something and follow-through. Regardless of what you end-up with, having a degree in any area is a great way to get some life experience as well and is one of those things that nobody can take away from you once you have earned it.

    As was mentioned, get a degree in something you enjoy. The nice thing about that is if you enjoy it, it may be something you can continue to use on the side if you get into a fire department. I got a degree in Information Systems and still use knowledge gained from that on the side to build out websites and databases for various clients.

    However, I will caution you against relying too much on your degree in your interview (but you may already know that). There are a lot of members in departments that do not have degrees and if someone comes across as thinking they are "smart" or a good candidate because they have a degree, it can really knock points off your score. Be sure to mention it, but craft it mostly as a testament of your ability to commit to something and follow-through.

    As for areas you mentioned, those all sound good and I would suggest also looking into Business Administration with an emphasis in Management, Finance, or Accounting. Those are areas that some (emphasis on "some") departments like because it may help with your ability to manage budgets and projects at the officer or administrative level later on down the line.

    Good luck!
    "Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid." -John Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaseyBhoy View Post
    However, I will caution you against relying too much on your degree in your interview (but you may already know that). There are a lot of members in departments that do not have degrees and if someone comes across as thinking they are "smart" or a good candidate because they have a degree, it can really knock points off your score. Be sure to mention it, but craft it mostly as a testament of your ability to commit to something and follow-through.
    Good luck!

    Good point, thanks for clarifying that.

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    Default ya

    ya dude i am in the same boat.
    finishing up at a junior college and have to decide real soon what I am going to major in. I am thinking of either
    Economics (it's how my mind works)
    Kinesiology (i dig that stuff)
    biology (just cuz it's "prestigious")

    so we'll see

    If you want a little more guidance on how your major can guide you down the road in the fire service, check this:
    http://www.joinlafd.org/College.htm
    Keep in mind that this is just for one department. I constantly hear the "major in what you enjoy" so go for that and use the website for a little reference.
    Best of luck.

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    Sean,
    Kinesiology will be helpful if you plan on going to paramedic school sometime down the road. As mentioned, pick a major you enjoy and could possibly see yourself doing as a career. You might need to something to fall back on. As CaseyBhoy said, discussing your ability to commit to something and achieving your goal (4 year degree) is more important in your interview than what the major was. I've worked with firefighters who were previously teachers, engineer's, business majors, etc etc..

    Getting your EMT at a junior college (maybe over a summer when your not in school) is also a good idea. Working on a private ambulance company or for a dept that hires single role EMT's gets you some great experience.

    Good Luck!

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    I might be a little biased, but I would recommend Public Administration, I've got three more weeks left till I graduate with my B.S. in PA! The major gives you extremely useful information that carries directly over to the fire service, especially when you get to Captain level and above. Some main concepts right off the top of my head that will help you down your career are: human personnel management, public budgeting, policy implementation, planning, policy analysis, local and state government, statistical research on policies, etc. A useful skill I have gained out of this major is creating policy analysis reports (cost/benefit etc.).

    Chico and San Diego State are the only two universities in CA that I know of which offer a B.S. in PA... maybe San Jose State, i forget.

    I have heard from numerous captains that any 4 year college degree is helpful in terms of getting hired, but I would imagine a degree that specifically can be very beneficial to the department in the long run would be better than say a degree in Art or History. Just my 2 cents.

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    I think it depends on how soon you want to be working as a firefighter. If your not in a hurry then go ahead and get your BA, but I wouldn't expect it to help you tremendously when testing for FF jobs. If you want to get to work, put the college on hold. Find out what the basic requirements are to become a full time firefighter in your area (or where ever you want to work) and start working to meet those requirements. Do a semester or 2 at a technical college earning your Firefighter I and II, get your EMT-basic, Haz Mat Ops, etc... Once you meet those basic requirements you can start the testing process (and believe me when I say it's a process). It took me 2 years of testing to land a full time fire job, and that was testing at every department I was able to. I consider myself fortunate to have been hired in only 2 years, it takes a lot of people a lot longer to get hired (think 5+ years with how competitive landing a firefighter job can be). If you still want to get your BA then you can go to school while testing for FD's but know you might have to make a choice on whether you should continue college or take a fire job if it is offered to you.

    Just my 2 cents

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    Having a degree looks great on your resume. While its not a requirement for any department I've looked into, it will certainly help you gain promotions and climb the ladder after you've been on a few years. The firehouse is a public service but also runs like a business. Anything related to public admin, business, health care administration, will look great. But, as others have said, choose something you enjoy and will be successful in, because if you fail out you've got nothing. Congrats, I'm all for degrees in public service agencies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Golzy12 View Post
    If your not in a hurry then go ahead and get your BA, but I wouldn't expect it to help you tremendously when testing for FF jobs. If you want to get to work, put the college on hold.
    Though I see where Golzy12 is coming from on this, I would have to disagree. Since smazer is just finishing his freshman year at Long Beach, I'm going to assume he is in the 19-20 year old range. In California, it is extremely rare for someone to get hired in this age range (or even into the early 20's) and generally the only ones in this age range that are working as firefighters are doing seasonals with Cal Fire or are reserves/volunteers. He's also gone through the process of getting into college and completing a year, so I don't think it would make a whole lot of sense to drop-out at this point to pursue fire science/technology courses at a JC. These are things he can come back and do after he completes his four-year.

    Now, if he weren't already going to school, I would 100% agree that he needs to get into an FF-1 academy, EMT, and fire science/tech program. But, this isn't his current situation.

    Someone else did recommend getting your EMT at a JC in the meantime - that is great advice because it is a minimum cert you need and can give you a decent part-time job and experience while you are going to school. If I could change anything I did, I would have gotten my EMT when I was getting my four-year so that I could've worked on the ambulance sooner.

    Stick out the four-year, get your degree, then come back and do your FF-1 and possibly paramedic school after. You'll be glad you did.
    "Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid." -John Wayne

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    I agree with the previous poster 100%. Take an EMT class in addition to your classes. Take this early on, when you major classes are in full swing yet. I did it my senior year, and had apretty heavy workload already. Its like taking an additional class, so instead of 5 my senior year when everyone was slacking off, I had 6. Plus you'll get some good working experience during summers with a private ambulance company or something.

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    Look for something that you like to do besides firefighting. It is mainly going to be a fall back in case you never get hired or decide later in life that fire is not your thing. Most normal people change careers 3-4 times in a life time. You may think you want to fight fire now, but in 4 years you may not want to anymore or decide you do not like it. Where will you be then is you have a degree in something you thought would relate closely with fire?
    "The probability of someone watching you is proportional to the stupidity of your action."

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    How about save the money go to a JC get your AS in Fire Tech and transfer at the same time to get that BA or BS

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaseyBhoy View Post
    Though I see where Golzy12 is coming from on this, I would have to disagree. Since smazer is just finishing his freshman year at Long Beach, I'm going to assume he is in the 19-20 year old range. In California, it is extremely rare for someone to get hired in this age range (or even into the early 20's) and generally the only ones in this age range that are working as firefighters are doing seasonals with Cal Fire or are reserves/volunteers. He's also gone through the process of getting into college and completing a year, so I don't think it would make a whole lot of sense to drop-out at this point to pursue fire science/technology courses at a JC. These are things he can come back and do after he completes his four-year.
    Although it's difficult, getting hired young isn't impossible, if you make all the right moves you can do it. I was hired when I was 20; I busted my butt, studied hard, tested everywhere I could, and got a little lucky. Personally I would have a tough time investing a ton of time and money into a 4 yr college when all I want to do is fight fire. If you were to drop out of college and go the fire route, you can always go back to college down the road. There are a handful of people on my dept. who are earning BA's while employed as FT firefighters

    smazer- before you make any life changing decisions, make sure firefighting is what you really want to do, you might be able to join a local volunteer fire dept, if not, taking your firefighter 1 will help you make your decision.

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    Default Majors

    All the advice I have been given is to get a major that would benefit you as a backup. Say you get injured on or off the job, it would be in your best interest to have a college degree in a field that you can fall back on.

    For me I am 23, medic, AA/AS Liberal Arts and Public Fire Service, just got injured in academy of one of my top choice depts, as part of being in the academy in a state that does not require the dept to "recycle" me into the next academy I had to make the choice of resigning or getting fired because I could not participate. I resigned.

    Now that I have recovered from my injury I am going to go back to work as a Medic on the ambulance and go back to school. Kind of at the same point you are. I have decided on a double major BSN in Nursing and a B.S. in Public Adminstration (possibly with an emphasis in Public Fire Administration)

    I chose these two majors because nursing is the next step up from paramedic so some of my education will carry over- and the field is very promising in the future, the ultimate goal would be to put in my hospital time and become a transport flight nurse on an aircraft. Pretty much the same as a CCT-Medic, but with very big difference in pay. The public administration degree is great for promotion in the fire department and it works well for other city jobs- say 25 years from now I want to transfer to a desk job at the dept I end up working for- I have a degree that will suit the job.

    Also still testing and considering a dept on the east coast, but unsure as of right now.

    As far as having a Bachelors degree: OCFA has academy of something like 30 people right now- only 3 recruits do not have Bachelors degrees and many in the class are medics with bachelors degrees. Just like EMT and FF academy are like an unwritten requirement for big departments- it is my belief that a 4 year degree will be necessary to be competitive.

    So you have a laundry list of things to get- now you just need to figure out what order you are going to aquire them in (EMT, FF-1 academy, AS-Fire Service, BA/BS, Paramedic) and that is only the education portion- you still you need experience, community service/volunteer work, physical fitness, an excellent interview, and a clean backround
    Last edited by Page0100; 05-01-2009 at 01:01 PM. Reason: correction

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    Thank you for all of the replies, I appreciate it immensely. I will take all of your advice into consideration, and find the best route for me. Thank you again.

    -Sean

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