1. #1
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    Default Masters in Firefighting Field

    Hello all, I've posted on here a few times about a few different topics. I'm a 22-year old who just graduated with a Bachelors degree. I'm taking a year or two off to go into an AmeriCorps emergency response team, but after that I want to go back and get a Master's degree, probably some variant of Public Administration. I'm doing that because not only am I interested in firefighting, I'm also interested in emergency management and need a higher degree for that field.

    My question is, would a Master's degree count against me in any way if I ever apply to a paid department? I'm concerned that I'd be seen as "overqualified" or as someone that they'd have to pay extra for, especially in the current economic climate. Since I'm also looking to marry and start a family in the next few years, I'm also concerned about taking a pay cut to follow a passion.

    Thoughts?

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    Bro,

    If you've got the bachelor's degree already, it may not be a bad idea to look for an entry-level job in the field you've originally intended to go into with that degree. The Emergency Response Team thing would look good on a resume if you decide to persue firefighting.

    On the subject of a Master's Degree and Public Service... Especially in the typical Emergency Management Agency... I'd say that being a Firefighter, and a Emergency Response Team member would look even great. Steadily build it up. Earn up some money first, enjoy your time as a rescue team member and a firefighter... Provide for your family and enjoy your time with them some... and then persue that Master's Degree when you're ready.

    You've got all the time in the world. I'm kinda in your shoes right now... I'm 20, a Junior/Sophomore and still trying to get an Associate's Degree for Social Studies Education. But I'm not sure if I wanna teach anymore or not, to be honest with you. I'm still trying to make my mind up on that.

    Here's an idea... have you considered persuing a certification as an EMT?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BHammond1 View Post
    My question is, would a Master's degree count against me in any way if I ever apply to a paid department? I'm concerned that I'd be seen as "overqualified" or as someone that they'd have to pay extra for, especially in the current economic climate. Since I'm also looking to marry and start a family in the next few years, I'm also concerned about taking a pay cut to follow a passion.
    Any education you get will help your career. The folks who do the hiring will not look at a Master's degree as a negative. And they won't pay you higher wages for it either. Pay rates in most fire departments are based on rank. Rank is either accrued by time, or by promotion. It has nothing to do with your credentials. I know many firefighters who came on the job with Masters degrees.

    As far as taking a pay cut to follow a passion. A Lieutenant told me once, "You can always make more money. You can never make more time." Your answer is in how you see yourself down the road. If you see a retirement full of regrets because you never followed your passion - then follow your passion!

    Good Luck,
    Rob Bieber
    Producer/Director "A Firefighter's Journey"
    www.firewerxfilms.com

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    You need a balance of experience and training with that education. I would get some actual field time in.

    Capt. Bob has said it before in here, Candidates have clubbered the interview board with their degree. A rookie boot FF with a Masters degree is nice, but you are going to be cleaning tiolets for the first couple of years, please understand this.

    I suggest trying to get a job now, blend in with the crews and as you get ready to promote, knock out the Masters degree then.

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    If youre still into the "school" thing, keep going. I left college 6 credits short of my bachelors in emergency services management in order to take a job in the field. That was 12 years ago and I havent had the opportunity to finish them yet. I wish I delayed taking the job for 7 more months and I would have finished what took many many hours of study and work to accomplish. Trust me when I say...Its much easier to keep going then to stop and start again.
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMac89 View Post
    Here's an idea... have you considered persuing a certification as an EMT?
    Thanks for the responses, everyone. On average, how difficult is it to get a paramedic certification? I know a little bit about EMT-B training, but I also know they're a dime a dozen and that eventually I'll have to get my medic certification.

    I ask because I'm not the best at math and I'm kind of worried about the formulas, data, etc.

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    In Mississippi, some community colleges (and most likely, all of them) offer a nine-month EMT course - which basically equates out to a career technical certificate from the school, and either the school sets it up for you to test to be recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, or you have to do that yourself.

    Once you've got your EMT-B, you can go for an EMT-I (intemediate), depending on where you live, or your Paramedic certification. Once again, in Mississippi... most community colleges offer a two-year course in which you take courses in Anatomy and Physiology, EMS ethics courses, and other important EMS courses that're specific to the job. I know at the place I've been going, you're required to take English Composition I, Public Speaking, General Psychology, and something else... I think College Algebra, on top of your actual EMS courses and your internship.

    This is the part where some research on your part is going to be required for your specific state's requirements, where you can earn your certification classes at, etc.
    Last edited by JohnMac89; 07-11-2009 at 02:17 PM.

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    Congrats on your accomplishments so far.

    Let me suggest working backward ...

    1) Identify the fire department you want to work for when you finish the Americorps experience.

    2) Determine what you need to successfully gain employment at that department. Some preferentialy offer employment to candidates with a paramedic card (a few require it.)

    3) The economy may or may not be improving when you are looking for that firefighter job. About 700 IAFF members lost their jobs in the past 9 months.

    It appears that this budget year (July 2009 - June 2010) will be WORSE than the last year. Even with SAFER grants, hundreds of additional firefighters will lose their jobs between now and 2011.

    I point that out to say you should continue to pursue your emergency management graduate education when you get back.

    Consider an alternative - paid job as an emergency management person and volunteer as a firefighter. If you decide to get an emergency management position in the Washington DC area, I would be happy to make some suggestions for a volunteer experience.

    .... as long as you do not mind riding the ambulance

    Mike

    Assistant Professor, George Washington University

    http://home.gwu.edu/~mikeward/

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