01-04-2006, 11:36 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
firefighter state cert or fire science
If you wanted a career in firefighting which would be the best bet. Having state certification or a degree in fire science. I have state cert but im wondering if i should get my degree in fire science so i can get a job. Could someone please help me.
Last edited by blazingfire32; 01-05-2006 at 06:49 PM.
01-05-2006, 12:22 AM #2
It really varies from one department to the next. Some REQUIRE a cert. and/or degree just to apply. Others could care less what your background is and will teach you "their way" of doing things.
It sounds like you're on the right track. Get whatever eduacation you can now. It will be a good foundation not only for testing for a job, but also when you get hired. You will already have some knowledge on what is going on and will be one step ahead of the game. Just be prepared to have to go through alot of the same training after you get on the job. Most places will still make you go through their academy or something similar.
I suggest you pick no more than 10 places you would like to work. You can usually contact their personnel department and acquire what the entry level requirements are ie: age, education, special licenses, residency, etc.
Do your homework on those fire departments. Make sure the pay, benefits, career opportunities, as well as working conditions are what you are looking for. I would test for as many of those places you can. No one says you have to accept a job or stay there for the rest of your life.
Applying, testing, and waiting for the job can be very frustrating. Don't get discouraged if you get passed over or don't make the final cut. I tested for 6 different departments before I got hired. I tested for 5 more before I got my "Dream Job". I scored pretty high everywhere, but was only offered a total of 2 jobs!
There are a few fellow firefighters that have columns right here on firehouse.com, as well as their own websites that have a wealth of information of which you seek. Check them out too!!
Last edited by fieldseng2; 01-05-2006 at 12:25 AM.
01-05-2006, 09:08 AM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2006
Cover your bases!
From personal experience I can tell you that going and obtaining your FS degree is definitely in your best interest. With the amount of college educated firemen entering the job pool these days, its becoming harder and harder to really have that extra edge when it comes to the interview stage etc of the enterance process.
So, basically, stack your resume with everything you can get. Education will never work against you and in most cases will help you be a promising officer candidate down the road with most any department. Just remember though, a pretty piece of paper on the wall, degree or cert, isn't reason to think you are going to get the perfect job first time out. Stay to the books, work hard, and do your homework on the type of department you are interested in and you will find your way to a happy and promising career.
01-05-2006, 04:04 PM #4
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
This might help:
In case you havenít figured it out yet there is an army of candidates with education, experience, and every degree, merit badge and certificate you can imagine chasing a firefighter job.
Yes, education wonít hurt you and it will help you advance up the ranks. But, you have to get the J-O-B first.
Ask yourself who is getting the badges? The vast majority of candidates we see get hired do not have advanced degrees. They're more in the line of EMT, FF1 academy, working on or have an AA or AS degree or medics. Some have no fire education or experience. Their biggest asset was they leaned how to take an interview.
Whatís the time line? If youíre just starting college and want to get your BA, it could take you 4 maybe 5 or more years depending on when you can line up and complete all your classes and requirements. Then, if you wanted to go further the timing it to get into paramedic school and get some street time another 2+ years? So around 7 years give or take to get in position to go after the badge. Are you going to need student loans? Do you have a special person in your life that is going to wait while you pursue your career? How long can you tread water?
The shortest distance between you and that badge is to become a paramedic. In some areas fire/medics are 80% of the job offerings. Make sure you have a current EMT card. Find out what the classes you need to take to get into medic school. Select a medic school with the best success of getting the students the internship on the box. Many promise it, but candidates have had to wait up to a year to get signed off. If you feel you donít have enough experience on the street as an EMT ride ambulance for more experience. Medic school will be harder without it. If you can get in an academy along the way it will give you and a department the hands on confidence that you have a better chance of passing an in service academy.
No matter what you decide learn how to take a fire department interview because that will probably be 100% of your score to get hired.
With the amount of college educated firemen entering the job pool these days, its becoming harder and harder to really have that extra edge when it comes to the interview stage etc of the enterance process.
Well, donít tell that to the candidates like this who made it:
Having no FF history and knowing only a few firefighters, your skills and tools on the bulletin board aided me in getting my badge. Out of over 600 applicants, I was # 6 and the dept. was hiring 8. I start October 3rd. I'm proud to say I'm officially a new member of the a Fire Department, just north of Indianapolis, IN, which is also located in the fastest growing county in the
state as well as the whole U.S. JIM
So, basically, stack your resume with everything you can get.
As Steve Prziborowski, Fire Captain - Santa Clara County Fire Department www.chabotfire.com wrote :
Do what you have to do be more marketable so you can take more tests and have something more to offer a department, but remember that it all comes down to that 15 to 30 minute oral interview. I've seen some awesome candidates with resumes packed full of accomplishments that couldn't sell them self in an interview to even make the top 50%.
You can find out more on this topic in this previous posting:
01-06-2006, 08:45 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2006
Though a lot of good points were made on this post, a few things do have to be concidered as I pointed out in my first post. Sure, I'm not saying that one can go out and test for the badge without education or certifications. However, one does have to do research on the type of department they want to work for and compare that to the job market.
For instance, most major city tests, FDNY, DCFD, LAFD, and on and on REQUIRE 60 credit hours of college education. So, why not stack the deck and do a FS degree program either an AS or BS.(Course if you are going to spend only the two years definitely get your medic for this will be the most marketable in most places.)
Which, brings me to the next point. It is definitely true that seeking a medic certificate and even just your EMT-B or EMT-I is well worth the trip and in many cases will put you above a lot of candidates come test time. In a lot of your mid-level size departments this is almost the only thing they care about when hiring new people on, but bottom line is that medical background will ALWAYS help.
It is true, you don't have to have education with a lot of smaller departments, however if you watch the national trend even places in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, etc REQUIRE AS degrees in Fire Science to even sit for a test along with EMT certs. You can further that with the fact that large city departments and some mid-size departments now also REQUIRE firefighters to have a BS to even take promotion exams. (Though, most have not stated that it must be a fire science BS, but bottom line is they do want future officers to be college educated to the BS level.) The fire service is changing at a highly rapid pace because more and more candidates are coming forward to test. Just like any job, anything you can do to seperate yourself from the pack will always help.
01-06-2006, 10:48 AM #6Originally Posted by NOVARescueFF
Well said....I don't think anyone can improve on that!
01-06-2006, 08:53 PM #7
- Join Date
- May 2000
- Memphis, TN
NOVA's got it. The fire service IS changing. We're moving away from being just the fire department and into a realm where the more knowledge you have the better. HAZMAT Technician is chemistry at the college level. The books on that are written by college graduates. We're moving towards a PROFESSION, and away from being a VOCATION.
We're making the same transition that nursing made a long time ago, when RN became the standard. You want to be a chief? A lot of departments are requiring that their chief candidates hace the NFA certification. In 2007, the NFA will enforce the requirement that all people attending that program MUST have a Bachelor's degree AT MINIMUM.
Don't just be a firefighter/EMT/Paramedic/what-have-you. Be an educated firefighter/EMT/Paramedic/what-have-you.
01-07-2006, 12:11 AM #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Show me the Badges!
Weíre talking entry-level snott nose rookie positions here right? We have enough chiefs. We need more Indians.
There is more than one way to gain a badge.
Is your goal to become a firefighter? Whichever way you go it all comes down to priorities. I believe in doing what is necessary to improve your odds in gaining that badge. The vast majority of candidates Iíve seen over the last few years do not have a four-year degree. That has not changed coast to coast.
Iíve heard from more than 20 candidates who are either in the LA City Academy, scheduled for one of the next academies or in the final stages of completing their backgrounds. Not one has a four-year degree. Not one! Many had little of no previous interview experience.
The following is from:
Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
Fire Science Program Head
Northern Virginia Community College
. . . First, I will agree when considering a major in college, fire science provides a poor return on investment if the goal is a career as a paid firefighter.
Firefighting is one of the few middle-class jobs not requiring college education as a pre-employment requirement . . . As Captain Bob repeatedly points out, most fire departments do not provide preferential considerations for someone with a two-or-four year degree. If you are going to college to prepare for a career in fire-rescue, your best investment is to obtain paramedic certification.
Captain Bobís approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-beís.
You folkís keep talking about how an advance degree will help you promote up the ranks. Yes an advanced degree will help you. It helped me. But it wonít do a thing for you if you donít get the J-O-B.
Set priorities. How much education do you think you can acquire being a firefighter working 10 days a month and going to school in 5-10-15 or 20 years once you get on? Many departments will pay for you to go.
From a recent posting:
. . You should carefully screen the departments you are considering and find out there requirements and preferences. I am definitely pro college I have my bachelors myself however my medic cert is what got my hired and got me more money not my bachelors. So just in the interests of saving your time and increasing your odds of getting hired take a look and see if a fire science is preferred or required . . .
From another candidate:
With all due respect to all that was said, speaking as a volunteer firefighter who has a 4 year degree, I would say that getting your BA or BS for a firefighter job is not a good way to go. I got my BS, and $100,000 later; I'm hoping to work in a job that requires only a technical certification that costs $250. And having the BS with out the tech cert makes me pretty much unhirable.
Get your paramedic. Get your FF1 and FF2. Get your HAZMAT tech. those are what is going to make you valuable to a company. A 4-year degree is worthwhile, but only if you use it. Most departments aren't requiring them. Some departments will even pay for you to attend college courses. Yes, it helps if you want to become an officer or a chief officer. But your going for entry level. Your going to have to pass the physical, pass the psych test, pass the written, and pass the oral board.
Focus on your goal and don't let anything get in your way until you get it.
You have to decide which path youíre going to hitch your wagon to in achieving your badge. Because in the months and years ahead there will be some who will succeed in gaining their badges and sadly many that wonít.
01-07-2006, 07:24 PM #9
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
Education is the future of the fire service. Donít let anyone tell you differently. Entry-level firefighters are everywhere. The race for you doesnít stop when you get the job, itís just beginning. Departments are looking for people we can make Officers in the future.
Your specific question deals with getting a state certification or a degree. I would encourage you to look at what is REQUIRED from entry-level candidates by the departments you are testing for. Itís differs from department to department and from regions of the country.
Some places require a state certified fire academy just to take the exam while others require nothing more than being 18-years old and a high school diploma or a GED certificate.
Itís incumbent upon YOU to pick an area you wish to work and identify their minimum requirements to take the examination.
I will encourage you to get in school and earn your degree. People with degrees are sought out as entry-level candidates. Given the choice people with 4-year degrees will get hired much more quickly than people without them.
While Bob may have an example of some departments that donít emphasize education I will tell you that I work for a major California department that does look for education (4-year degree). I can also tell you that a neighboring department you may have heard of (Orange County) hired an academy recently in which every one of the recruits had Bachelors degrees.
You need to understand that the majority of todayís Fire Chiefs have degrees. Most of them went back to school to earn them while they were working as firefighters. My Chief promoted me to BC being 4 classes short of an AS degree. He told me to complete my BS within 2-years. If you take a look at any Chief Officer recruitment you will see they virtually ALL require education. If these people are now in charge of entry-level hiring you can bet they value education.
As I said earlier, it depends on your region of the country.
01-23-2006, 03:28 PM #10
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
I can also tell you that a neighboring department you may have heard of (Orange County) hired an academy recently in which every one of the recruits had Bachelors degrees.
I sent the above to a friend who is in administration for Orange County and he replied with:
As far as LaPore goes, he is WRONG! At least 8 did not have advanced degrees and another 5 were also medics. This was not our typical hiring process. It was unique in that you had to already be employed by Orange County or be in the reserves. Eight did not pass the academy, but it was not for education reasons but manipulative poor skills.
Oddly enough though, one of the strong underlying factors in the past academy was lack of physical fitness and the proper attitude. We have been collecting fitness data for the past three academies and it appears that our incumbents (even the 30-40 age range) are more fit than the entry level.
It truly begs the question then, "what is the validity of these ability/agility exams?" Are the times too liberal? I don't know but we are looking into it. Los Angeles County has the same issue and is also looking at it. We figure we lost eight employees and about 250k dollars in the last academy alone.
01-24-2006, 06:48 PM #11
State Cert Vs. Degree
Most fire departments would prefer a Degree in a fire related field or at least 60 college credit hours. The reason why most will take the degree over certification is because the state certifications are usually included in the degree program. There are still some fire departments that would take an IFSAC Firefighter II and a NREMT (Basic through Paramedic) or if they donít run an EMT service (not too common) you may only need a First Responder with the Firefighter II. One other tip I would give you, would be, if you are NOT currently a member of a fire department, JOIN ONE ASAP and get some experience! Some of the degree programs may offer an Internship with a career department, but in my personal opinion, that is NOT enough. Most fire departments will pay for your state certs PLUS you get experience! They are looking for someone that has shown that they have made a commitment to improve them selves. The degree will set you apart from other candidates and will expand your knowledge that you can draw on for hiring exams. Hope this helps. Stay safe and Good Luck!
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