1. #1
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    Default Military vs. College

    Hello All:

    Ok. I'm deliberating what to do to become the best firefighter candidate in the Southern California area. I have identified first and foremost that I want to be a Firefighter-Paramedic.

    I either want to join the Unites States Air Force as a Medic, go to college during the Air Force, and then get out. I don't know if I will be distracted during the military to get my bachelor's degree, so could any Vets help me out here?

    On the other hand, I would stay at home and go to a local community college, and get some sort of degree, maybe in Fire Science. Afterwards, I would head off to one of the local Universities and bag a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration. If I'm really motivated, I want to try and get my Master's. After all that, I'd go back to a Cumminty College and get my EMT cert, and then my Paramedic's license.

    Also:

    -I've been an Explorer for Riverside City Fire for about 2 years. I've been a Cadet Captain for aobut 7 months.

    -I have around a 3.1 GPA in high school, and concurrently in college, I have a 4.0.


    Which one would make me the best candidate? Military + college, or just college? Also, which is easier to do? By the way, I don't plan on being married during all of this, so no dating distractions until I get a job with an FD.

    Thanks!

    Chris, 17.

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    I either want to join the Unites States Air Force as a Medic, go to college during the Air Force, and then get out. I don't know if I will be distracted during the military to get my bachelor's degree, so could any Vets help me out here?

    First of all this is truly a question only you can answer. Everyone has their own experience with the service. It is a noble thing to do, serve your country, and you can work towards a degree. However, that is on your own and you still have military duties to attend to. It is a challenge, but if you go into the USAF as a firefighter, you will have an edge.


    Which one would make me the best candidate? Military + college, or just college? Also, which is easier to do?


    Which is easier? Well you tell me, both require a committment and time, however you can quit college, you can't quit the military. At least not if you want that black mark following you around. Many FD do take military service into consideration though.


    This is stuff you'll have to figure out on your own. Military is a committment, but there are benefits. I did 5 years, got out and used GI Bill, my state had veterans education incentives, and in the end I was paid to go to school. If you go in at 18, you can get out at 22. Still young enough to do schooling and you gain a lot of real life experience. Think it over.

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    I would ask yourself if Firefighting/Medic is what you really want to do? If so, I would advise you to join the military if you want, and when you come back get your FF1, FF2, EMT/paramedic. This is what I would do if I was in your shoes. I see little need for a degree in PA, unless you want to do something else/ or on the side. Also, I would think a degree in Fire Science goes alot farther than a bachelors in something unrelated. But, you need to do some serious thinking. If you really want to be a FF and money isn't too large of an issue, I would skip the military. Go to the local community college academy, and get your paramedic. Joining the military is a very noble thing, but if firefighting is what you really want to do I would go for it...just my .02, but do some serious thinking, and do what makes YOU happy.

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    Chris, first of all, you (and your parents) should be proud of the fact that you've already established a goal for yourself. That's something that most of the people your age haven't even stopped to think about. So you're WAY ahead of the game as far as that's concerned.

    As for college while on active duty:

    There are a few things to think about, though. As the old joke goes: "How do you know when a recruiter is lying?" "His lips are moving." Beware the promises of "You can go to college and earn your degree as soon as you get to your first duty station" As a former AF MSgt I constantly had to remind my Airmen that their first priority was to learn their AF job (OJT, skill upgrades, etc). Face it, that's why you're getting a paycheck, right?. Once upgrade training was finished they could go to school as much as their schedule allowed. Depending on how fast they progressed, that could take 12-18 months before they could take their first class. Just speaking on my experience, others may vary.

    Now, remember the fact that deployments, exercises, etc are at the highest level they've been at for probably 30 years (and the fact that you're away from home for the first time and the lure of the airmen's club can be very strong) you can see that college is very difficult (not impossilble) for many people in your position.

    You can do it if you are a very determined and focused individual. It sounds like you are, but just want you to understand what you may be up against.

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    First off, thank you for considering helping to defend our great country. You should be proud of yourself for that, you also sound like you have a great goal for yourself, when I was your age I didn't know what the heck I wanted to do tomorrow much less for the next 30 years.

    However, this is a decision that you and your family must make, both routes have thier advantages and disadvantages. I can't speak from a military standpoint as I have never been in, but from a college perspective. Here is my opinion.

    Advantages:
    -Many times you get preference points on tests for a degree.
    -You may find that you really love something else and decide that you would rather do that than be a FF/PM.
    -You have something to fall back on after retirment or if FF doesn't work out (which I'm sure will work out just fine for you).
    -I'm not going to lie, college is ALOT of fun. Almost too fun sometimes, stay focused and do your work and you will be fine.

    Disadvantages:
    -Cost, state schools arent TOO bad but still expensive, private colleges can run $25,000+ a year in tuition.
    -It seems like its easier to get your FF2 and medic in the military. I'm not sure how things work in CA, but where I'm from having these two things will open the door to so many more tests.
    -Freedom, this may sound like an advantage, but for many freshmen the first taste of freedom is bad. They spend all thier time partying and not working and fail out after a year. I'm sure you won't do this, but if you do go to college "keep your eye on the prize."

    Hope this helps.

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    What branch of service are you looking to go in?

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    Don't join active duty with an ulterior motive. Period.

    If you want to be a FF/Paramedic... take the courses in the civilian world. Medics in the military only get EMT-B certification.

    If you want to do the military thing (and get the benefit on the resume) look into the Guard / Reserves. They'll help you pay for college.

    You might get called up for deployment, if so, relish it. It's an indescribable experience. You get the pride that comes from serving your country, the money from a deployment (most single guys I know came home with $25,000 in the bank), the veteran's preference points and the resume booster.

    If not, the Guard / Reserves will be extremely beneficial financially when it comes to the GI Bill and tuition assistance.

    But beyond that... GET A BACHELOR'S DEGREE. If the other courses come with it, cool... if not do them later. GET A DEGREE. GET A DEGREE. GET A DEGREE.

    Trust me on this... hindsight is 20/20 remember?
    Last edited by james13f; 03-28-2007 at 06:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by james13f View Post
    The Army National Guard has a program where you go to training in the summer inbetween semesters, also where you are guaranteed NOT to deploy for the first 2 years of your contract. They offer $20,000 in signing bonuses right now, a guaranteed MOS, GI Bill benefits, federal tuition assistance, plus state tuition assistance.
    Do you know this as hard facts? Or is this hear say? Sure sounds too good to be true to me.

    $20,000 signing bonus is for particular jobs, not everyone. Not deploying for the first 2 years?

    The military is the military despite active or reserve or guard. You are put where you are needed. If your unit is deployed, you meet up with them after bootcamp. If your unit deploys, chances are high, you're going. Do you really think it is right to send some other guard member over for the 3rd or 4th time so you can sit on your "no deployment for 2 years butt"? So after your 2 years (if it is true) guess where you'll be.

    Point is look it over...READ THE FINE PRINT...this is way to good to be true. Not saying it isn't, just does not sound like hard fact.

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    Okay,


    I have heard the same thing (I am in the mIlitary/ reservist) although I though I heard it was guarenteed not to deploy for a year after your return (although that may vary from state to state, I think that is the minimum). The training split between two summers has been around for decades and is the truth. Normally however, that covers Advanced Individual Training (AIT's) that can be done in 3 1/2 months or less. You will go to Basic training your first summer, then AIT your second summer. The Bonus's amount for select Job's (also called MOS's) is also true, but generally require a four to six year commitment in certain jobs. This is not "Way good to be true, but in fact is reality. Now, the trick then becomes is can you get all of these incentives at the same time?

    Deployments:
    Chances are if your in a guard or reserve unit that deploys and you are in training, you will not deploy once you get out if they are already in country. This is totally opposite to how the active duty does it, but thats how the guard and reserve do it. Its all about numbers and Federal Law. Units are called up, not normally individuals (unless you can speak a certain language, walk across water and put an engine together with a fork and knife all at the same time). Dosent mean you wont cross leveled to another unit a year after they return if your state gets another tasking, but thats rare. Reserves are a bit different since they are federal, but even then there are still limits as to how much time you can be called up for within a set period. I do know of units that have been called up twice, but rarely a third or more unless they asked for volunteers to cross level to another unit. Retention is a big issue when thinking long term, hence they do try and normally succeed in not sending peronel or units multiple times with a set period.


    I wish you the best no matter what you do.
    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    Do you know this as hard facts? Or is this hear say? Sure sounds too good to be true to me.

    $20,000 signing bonus is for particular jobs, not everyone. Not deploying for the first 2 years?

    The military is the military despite active or reserve or guard. You are put where you are needed. If your unit is deployed, you meet up with them after bootcamp. If your unit deploys, chances are high, you're going. Do you really think it is right to send some other guard member over for the 3rd or 4th time so you can sit on your "no deployment for 2 years butt"? So after your 2 years (if it is true) guess where you'll be.

    Point is look it over...READ THE FINE PRINT...this is way to good to be true. Not saying it isn't, just does not sound like hard fact.

  10. #10
    FLA1786
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    Just to add to what james13f said:
    I did a pretty hefty ammount of research on the military recently because I'm in a similar situation to yours. The only MOS that actually certifies you as a EMT-Paramedic is the AirForce Special Ops. Pararescuemen aka PJs. This also happens to be one of, if not the hardest positions to hold. Not because its competitive but because most people that actually attain the level of fitness needed to GET IN cant handle the further physical/mental toughness plus the accelerated academics.

    I'm a little older then you and right now I'm in a AS in EMS program that certifies you paramedic(with this degree you can goto schools for a BS in Fire and Emergency Services). I started looking at the military as a way to get expeirence and mainly veterans preference.

    My plan is to spend the year+ that i have left at my degree to train my *** off then see if I can pass the physical for PJ school. And if I make it, do my time in either the Air National Guard or Airforce, get out, and use my preference to get on a big department(FDNY). While working I'll get my BS in Fire and Emergency Services from either the University of Florida or University of Maryland which are both online.

    Just givin ya some insight from someone whos been where you are. You get the degrees, you get the military time,you get the cert, and you get the job. Thats the best senario I could find for myself that leaves a lot of roads open if something doesnt work out.

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    Like I stated the whole Guard deal seems too good to be true...although it has been awhile since I was in. I do know the Guard you have a different oath instead of going enlisted. Up here though a friend joined the Guard, went to boot camp and infantry school and then met up with his unit overseas in Iraq. There was no 2 years wait. Although, the 2 years between deployments is more likely and a signing bonus depends on a job, not everyone gets it. Again, just read the fine print. (I did and was surprised to see my 4 year enlistment was actually 8 years and had to ask about that.)


    As for the whole original post...college vs military.

    Many seem to say college quick, although not everyone served. You can gain quite a bit of experience and independence serving in the military. Do one enlistment and you still have plenty of time for schooling. You may NOT get a degree while serving, but there are many college courses offered that you CAN take part in and those are accredited courses. Also there is DANTES testing and CLEP testing available. You can challenge a test, say math, pass it and get the recommended college credits. I wish I took more courses while in and when they were offered, but I did take several DANTES and CLEP's and a majority transferred into my technical school program and many classes I didn't have to take.

    I think a major part not listed for military as a plus, is the fact you DO gain real life experience. You have to act like an adult, you grow up fast. Life experience does speak for something at an interview. I have seen too many "kids" get out of fire school and walk onto a job. Never worked a day in their life anywhere else or did anything else. Doesn't mean they are not good FF's, but it takes them awhile to grow up and to listen, many don't know how to take an order and have seen some arguments where there shouldn't be. Military points are given because a FD knows a vet knows about orders, knows discipline, knows how to work as a team.

    Some things you can't learn in college.
    If the original poster serves or if he goes to college...I could give a crap less. I know what I did to get a job and it took awhile, I learned from my mistakes and if I can pass info on, so be it.

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    The Two year wait is a relativly (within the last few months) new concept. When I enlisted some almost 19 years ago, It was clearly pointed out to me that although my active duty commitment was 4 years (as an infantryman none the less), my obligation was 8 with the other 4 to be served in the Reserves, guard or the Inactive Ready Reseve. Maybey I was lucky in that back in the day, they explained that part, although it was in pretty bold lettering <lol>. I can say though, that my military experience has helped me in my 13(+) years in the fire service. its hard to explain, but Ive seen it not olny in myself, but with those I have worked with in several departments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    Do you know this as hard facts? Or is this hear say? Sure sounds too good to be true to me.

    $20,000 signing bonus is for particular jobs, not everyone. Not deploying for the first 2 years?

    The military is the military despite active or reserve or guard. You are put where you are needed. If your unit is deployed, you meet up with them after bootcamp. If your unit deploys, chances are high, you're going. Do you really think it is right to send some other guard member over for the 3rd or 4th time so you can sit on your "no deployment for 2 years butt"? So after your 2 years (if it is true) guess where you'll be.

    Point is look it over...READ THE FINE PRINT...this is way to good to be true. Not saying it isn't, just does not sound like hard fact.
    I know because I am a recruiting assistant for the Guard.

    $20,000 for 30 of the most common MOS's. $15,000 for the rest. 2 years of non-deployability for full-time students. 91W (medic) is $20,000.

    Do I agree? No, I about **** my pants when I found out about the 2 year thing, especially when I had just gotten back from Iraq. But it is there.

    Chances are nil. of getting deployed if you have the paperwork and are doing your part to maintain eligibility to remain in that program.

    EVERY SERVICE REQUIRES AN 8 YEAR COMMITMENT. Whether 2 is active, or 6 is reserve... the remainder is in the IRR (individual ready reserve) where you CAN be called up for deployment. I know a guy who was a civilian for 4.... ****4**** years and ended up in Iraq.

    As for deployment stuff... it's currently being re-written. It used to be you could only be called to active duty for 24 out of 60 months. Not so anymore.

    Now they are working on a new plan, where they can only call you up for 12 consecutive months, but I think the kicker is they only have to give you 12 months inbetween deployments. The plan for most Guard Brigades, after they get switched to the new BCT format, is to deploy 1 year out of 5.

    The other 4 years-

    year 1 ... work on CTT and individual training/maintenance
    year 2 ... squad/platoon level training/maintenance
    year 3 ... company/battalion level training/maintenance/missions
    year 4 ... brigade level exercises/training
    year 5 ... deploy

    Sorry if I got off topic... one of those things I can talk on and on about (obviously lol).

    ------------------------------

    Back to college or military? Just try college, man. You can always enlist later if you don't groove with the college thing. The military will ALWAYS be there.

    Unless, like I said, you feel a calling to it. Join to join if that is what you want. But the guys that do it with ulterior motives normally wish they took another path.
    Last edited by james13f; 03-29-2007 at 11:21 AM.

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    Default Fire/Medic

    RFDExplorer wrote:
    I have identified first and foremost that I want to be a Firefighter-Paramedic.

    If you really want to become a Firefighter/Paramedic going into the military might not be your best choice. Yes, I served my time in the military. Iíve seen and heard from candidates for years who thought the military would be their ticket in. I seldom if ever heard from them again after they went in. It might be a combination of pay, stations, getting married, financial and other obligations while in the military.

    Education????? Degree???? You sound young enough to get a degree especially if your parents are going to pay the freight.

    Education will never hurt you.

    But if you really want to get a firefighter job consider these points:

    Is there a requirement for an advanced degree to get a firefighter job?

    Answer: Few if any. A fraction of departments list an advanced degree as desirable but not required.

    Where are 80% of the job offerings?

    Answer: Fire/medics

    There are up to 800 candidates chasing each firefighter job. How many are chasing a fire/medic job?

    Answer: 12-20. Which odds do you like better?

    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 and academy and or 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 who is going to wait while you pursue your career? How long can you tread water?

    The path to become a medic is about 2 years with gaining some savvy street time. If you can get in an academy in that time period it will be convincing evidence that you have the hands on experience that a department can take a risk on you.

    Can you continue your education once youíre hired? Will departments give you an education incentive?

    Answer: Yes to both.

    Yes, having a degree will help with promotions but how long will it be before you will qualify to take a promotional exam?

    Answer: Engineer depending on the agency 3 plus years. An officer? Five or more years. So if you get on you could obtain the necessary education before your first promotional test to be in position. And, the department will pay for you to go to college. And, to be able to use the advanced degree you have to get the J-O-B first.


    The following is from:
    Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE (Retired)
    Assistant Professor
    Fire Science Program Head
    Northern Virginia Community College
    Annandale, VA

    In my preferred world, a high school graduate will attend college and obtain an undergraduate bachelorís degree PRIOR to getting a ďrealĒ job. This illustrates the values of going to college and getting to experiment and become an adult in a semi-protective environment.

    Lets cut through the testosterone and turf wars and consider the question of which is the best way to get a badge. 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.

    There may be another reason why an 18 year old wants to go to work right away. Many graduates of American high schools lack the reading, mathematic or study skills to start freshman college.

    Firefighting is one of the few middle-class jobs not requiring college education as a pre-employment requirement. I think that distinction will evaporate in the next generation. 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.

    THE BRUTALITY OF THE HIRING PROCESS

    Fire departments continue to hire as if it was 1899 Ė you are a slab of meat evaluated for your physical, mental and moral capabilities. The regional or local fire academy will provide the needed on-the-job training. Most of them do not care about your volunteer experience or existing fire service certifications. But many will treat you preferentially if you are a National Registry EMT/Paramedic.

    You may have forgotten what it is like to be on the outside with a burning desire to be a full-time firefighter. That desire results in an endless ďwhat-ifĒ game that reminds me of high school dating.

    Captain Bobís approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-beís.

    MY OPINION:

    If you can, go to college and get a bachelor degree. Have fun, try out new things, see the world. Get your degree in whatever interests you, since 80% of your fellow graduates end up in jobs different than what their degree says.

    After you get your badge and get off probation, you can take whatever fire science, emergency management, WMD, ICS, or XYZ classes required by your department. Generally, they will pay for those classes.
    My teaching experience goes from high school vocational EMT (three years) to community college (20 years) through university (four years). My personal educational journey includes flunking out of engineering school, while living in a fire station and spending my parentís money. I returned to obtain a bachelor and master degree years later.

    There is a huge amount of diversity in "fire science" academic programs. From community college credit for Firefighter I to graduate engineering and hard science research university PhDs.
    Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE (Retired)
    Assistant Professor
    Last edited by CaptBob; 03-29-2007 at 12:39 PM.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

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    Thumbs up You decide how, but go to school

    I did my BS degree in EMS while on active duty. I am getting ready to start my Masters in Public Admin (I retired from the Navy last year).

    I was a FMF Corpsman (Navy's version of a combat medic) and a SAR Corpsman (Search and Rescue flight medic). I used my emergency medicine background to get my BS. It is what I trained in, so I stuck with what did me the most good to complete a degree.

    I always worked part-time or volunteered as a FF or Medic to keep my skills up and it really counted towards my experience level at new job time.

    If you go active duty just remember, one 30 day exercise can screw up 6 months of school depending on where it falls on the schools calendar (i.e., overlaps the end of one semester and the beginning of another).

    Have you considered ROTC? Let the military pay for school, do your active duty time, and then use that experience to back-up your credentials on paper.

    Good Luck!

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    Thank you to all who have replied. It helps a great deal.

    I want to join any branch of service that will give me the necessary training to excel my knowledge in how I can help a patient. At the same time, I want to be in a service that treats me well, because I'm giving me life when I sign the dotted line. My JROTC instructor told me that the Air Force was the best branch to get into. He said the Navy was OK, but if I really didn't care about being on a boat for 6 months at a time, get into the Air Force.

    I have looked into ROTC, and I may go that route. I just need to find the right career in the Military, particularly in Medicine.

    I am taking both my high school and college classes right now. I talked to a Firefighter/Paramedic from LAFD and he said to take my time when getting into the Fire Service. Take time to travel the world, and see all the sites, before I have a car payment, mortgage, etc...

    As far as how I see myself, I make it through college. I personally don't enjoy high school at all, and I prefer college much more. I don't have to deal with the drama and hormones of college as much, as long as I stay out of the party schools. Everyone before said that a degree is very important.

    My post advisor told me that the College Degree is one of the best investments you can make. If God forbid, I am seriously injured in the fire service, or I decide not to do it, I can use my college degree to get another job.

    Thanks!

    Chris

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    If you want to consider the military don't just take your JROTC instructor's word. Go visit every recruiter for every branch you can. There are ways to get into firefighting in every branch of the service. You should not join the military with the attitude that you have projected as a half hearted effort, you have to be ready to give everything you have. But the military will help you become more mature. I am working on a fire science degree right now and have been in the Marines for almost 5 years and I consider myself lahead of my peers in disipline and commitment. If you have any questions about the Marine Corps just ask, being from so-cal there is a reserve option for you to be CFR in the Marines and get FF-1, HAZMAT, EMT and other options for you.

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    Anyone who has been in the military will tell the obligation is unilateral. That means that while your recruiter will tell it is possible to get the job you want in whatever branch you enlist and that it is possible to get your degree while on duty the ability to do so ISN'T guaranteed. If your job interest isn't available you don't get to leave. Once you sign your name and hold up your hand to take the oath your life belongs to the DoD for whatever time you commit. And in wartime (like now) it is getting more difficult to seperate if your skilled is determined to be vital.

    Keep that in mind before you make a final decision.

    I've met several who enlisted in the USMC thinking they would get a chance to play in the USMC band. Guess where they ended up? Pulling triggers.
    Last edited by scfire86; 04-05-2007 at 04:11 PM.
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    "And in wartime (like now) it is getting more difficult to separate if your skilled is determined to be vital."

    Yes, it is true in the Marine Corps you sign up for a job field on active duty, and get assigned a job in that field, I signed up for CFR on active duty and am now an Aviation Ordnance Tech. but reservists do get what they sign up for. The misperception about getting out is that you do in fact sign an 8 year contract with 4 of those being on active duty and 4 being a reservist. They can not hold you past the 8 year mark. As far as education is concerned, the Marine Corps has paid 100% of my tuition, up to almost $5,000/year, as long as I maintain above a "C" average. Being stationed in a state like California the local community college charged $26/credit. I was a full time student for over 2 years, even when you deploy there are college opportunities to get general credits completed. While I do not want to sound like a recruiter, who I am not, I do believe that the military is often discredited.

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    Default Answer from a 20 year vet now looking for work in CA

    The Air Force has the only Fire Fighting gig that is most like a municipal department. You will learn allot and can work on your degree which you should. If you want to come back to CA and work take your 4 years and run while you are young or you will be like me a 20 year Assitant Chief with a pile of certs that California does not recognize. If you are determined you will make it happen but remember LA just had 20,000 people apply for fire fighting jobs last open testing. I often feel I should have gotten out after 4 years, I got lucky and was stationed in CA after my first 4 years and tested for many cities, I came close a couple of times but I eventually had take another assignment out of state. If you want it you have to stay focussed, and work hard. Theres allot of fun to be had and allot of hard dirty work in the military, it's easy to lose that focus.

  21. #21
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    Dec 2005
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    Exclamation Air Force and College

    Air Force Reserve
    +
    College
    +
    Wars in Iraq,
    Afghanistan,
    War On Terror=
    BAD MIX

    Do yourself a favor, if you want the military go ACTIVE duty. With our commitments overseas you will be lucky if you can finish a college semester without a deployment overseas as a reservist. Go Active for a couple of years, do the medic/healthcare thing on active duty, take advantage of the Community College of the Air Force or another college that offers distance learning to active duty service members, get some credits, get out finish your degree, become a Paramedic and take it from there. Good Luck.

  22. #22
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ddietz View Post
    The Air Force has the only Fire Fighting gig that is most like a municipal department. You will learn allot and can work on your degree which you should. If you want to come back to CA and work take your 4 years and run while you are young or you will be like me a 20 year Assitant Chief with a pile of certs that California does not recognize. If you are determined you will make it happen but remember LA just had 20,000 people apply for fire fighting jobs last open testing. I often feel I should have gotten out after 4 years, I got lucky and was stationed in CA after my first 4 years and tested for many cities, I came close a couple of times but I eventually had take another assignment out of state. If you want it you have to stay focussed, and work hard. Theres allot of fun to be had and allot of hard dirty work in the military, it's easy to lose that focus.
    I donít believe itís all about the certs, experience, military or where ever life has led you. I really believe that where you make the cut or not has everything to do with if you learned how to take a firefighter oral board interview that is like no other.

    I've seen candidates with great credentials. They had degrees, certificates, paramedic, volunteer, military, experience and every other merit badge you could imagine. But they couldnít present the package at the interview. And, if you can't present the package, you don't get the job . . . Period! Never! Ever!

    If youíre passing the written and agility, which are usually pass/fail, and youíre not placing high enough on the oral, thatís where the problem exists.

    What most candidates do if they donít place high enough on the oral is go back and try to pack on more credentials. ďOh, I have to finish my degree or get through that academyĒ They do little to nothing in gaining the skills for the oral board, which is usually 100% of the score. If you donít do anything to improve your oral board skills nothing is going to change, you will never, ever see that badge. The oral board is for all the marbles. This is where the rubber meets the road.

    Stop looking in the magnifying glass at others . . . and start looking in the mirror at your self. Thatís where the problem is.

    As Steve Prziborowski, Fire Captain - Santa Clara County Fire Department 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%.

    If youíre an officer trying to get on another department as an officer or chief check this out: http://www.eatstress.com/chieftim.htm

    Can you imagine a Navy Seal Medic who couldnít get hired?

    Yep, thatís right. This super qualified candidate couldnít get hired. Why? He couldnít pass the oral high enough to get called back.

    The cornerstone of what we do is to convince candidates to lace their oral board answers with personal life experiences. This alone will separate you from the other candidates. Because no one can tell your story. No one.

    I coached this Navy Seal. Like many candidates he was stuck in the process. He had a lot of clone garbage. At one point he held up one of those books with all the answers and said, "Should I still use the answers out of this book?" I told him, "Not if he wanted to get hired." On one of his answers I stopped him. OK, now tell me a personal story that can relate to this answer? The story he starts with we throw out. The second story too. No, no, not the clone stuff. Tell me your personalized story that no one else can tell. The light went on.

    He regrouped. Then he started telling the story of being on a mission at nignt in Afghanistan. He took me on the journey with him. The hairs on my arms and neck stood up. It was exciting, emotional. He relived it. I said, oh, my god. Thatís it. Rick said, you mean I can use that? Please do. It delivers the point in answering this oral board question. It will convince the panel you not only know the answer, you have lived it!

    At the end of the coaching session he had a new killer presentation. All his own stuff. Not a clone of everyone else. We didn't give him anything he didn't already have. He was just shown where it was.

    I told him if youíre not hired on your next interview you will be picked up soon by someone else. His next interview was the following week. I told Rick theyíre going to be ****ing all over themselves now trying to hired you before someone else does.

    Rick had his next oral the following week. The next day he was called back for the chiefís oral the following week.

    On Tuesday at 4:30 pm my phone rings. Itís Rick. You were right. I got the call.

    What got him hired? Not packing on more certs. He already had what it took. He just needed the necessary oral board skills.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

  23. #23
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    CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default

    I cant believe I am late to this party.

    You have already beat me to my first question- Focus on what you really want. DONE! You want FF/PM in the So. Cal. area and I cant blame you. (Lots of fires, strike teams, freeways and action)

    First- STAY IN COLLEGE. Get that "golden piece of paper" out of the way and done. No one can take away that degree and it never expires.

    Second- Your already hooked up with a great FD- Riverside City. They need good people including medics. Continue to make a positive name for yourself there, fly straight and get some ride-along experience.

    Next- The military. I totally respect the Armed Forces. But like you, I knew exactly what I wanted to do right out of high school and focused on it.
    The military will give you a great knowledge base and network to work from. BUT, sometimes they will promise you positions and training and once they get you locked in, things charge. And like Bob said, I have had high school friend strongly state "They are going into the military and coming back to be a Firefighter here!" Well, between there and here, a lot of life happens. The same guys get married, kids, debt, house, credit cards and lots of life. And "here" is not even close.

    Next- One you get college and everything else squared away, look at medic school. I am sure you know what to do there.

    Next- Look at getting on with Riverside/CalFIRE as a FF/PM. They run a lot of calls and the experience cant be beat over anything. I put a lot of stock in a Candidate's few summers on an ALS rig in Riverside Co.

    Next- Be careful on some of the advise you get in here. Respectfully, some people dont know the California employment scene as some of us locals. Its different here. And in the same respect, I dont give local (I said local) advice on getting hired in Texas, Florida, etc. I havent worked there so I dont know the flavor.

    Lastly- Girlfriends and marriage- You nailed it too.

    Most people getting out of high school lose their regular network of friends. Life can seem so lonely and different. (I admit, I was there) Some people need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend just to get by in life. (I was not there) I focused on my career and goals. I dated and fooled around some, but that wont pay my bills. So, I keep them in the backseat because I knew I was too young to get married and simply wanted to wait to make any sort of life commitment. Today, looking back, I am glad I played it that way. Having a wife, kids, divorce and/or other additions in my life would have just slowed me down or gotten in the way of what I wanted.

    Dog Pounders- Stop! This was life life experience only, please dont flame me for it. I am sure your wife and kids are the greatest thing to happen to you, but its not for me. Thank you.

    Besides- Getting married too young is expensive, a headache and drama. Just ask Britney Spears.

    I think youre on the right track. I would hang with Mom and Dad as long as you can, save up some money and keep the stress level low.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 04-22-2007 at 03:28 PM.

  24. #24

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    Default Iraq

    I am currently located in Downtown Fallujah, Iraq. I am a Naval Medic Stationed with the Marines. I have been here only a short time soo far and have a long way to go, I have seen legs blown off, crushed in skulls, GSW out the ***. Military shows you what no one else can, they teach through experience. I am trying to do college wile im in also, but have very little to no time. Military or college? I had the same question, I chose Military because it was something i always wanted to do, and it will help pay for my college. I came into the military with my 240 level 2 firefighter and EMT-B, I did the community college for Fire Science. For me I am glad i am doing this, but would liked to be able to do more college. If you have any questions on what im doing here and who im with my IM is Hunt1066 or e-mail Hunt1066@aol.com and i will respond

    HN McKenney USN/USMC

  25. #25
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    Talking FF in the AF about to graduate from college

    Iím a FF in the Air Force at Ramstein AB Germany. Iíve also worked on the civilian side for a couple of yearsÖ anyway hereís my two cents:

    First, Capt Bobís advice is gold, listen to it! And if youíre looking for more info from him, heís published a book about this subject (and yes, I do own it). Itís great stuff but a bit on the expensive side ($25) when compared to the other books of this type on the market.

    Second, itís possible to do College and Military at the same time BUT it depends on your job and your level of motivation. Most guys, however, rarely take advantage of the education but if you have the drive, youíll get it done. In fact, after almost 4 years in the military, Iíve only met a handful whoíve completed a bachelors or more. Iíve managed to get a 4 year degree in 4 years of the military but itís been rough (being single helps though). Right now I am on my final semester for my Bachelors in Applied Psychology through the University of Maryland University College. Iíve also completed my Associates in Applied Fire Science through the Community College of the Air Force. So both are possible.

    If you do decide to go military, I HIGHLY recommend the Air Force. The quality of life is much higher and though it does have its share of BS, there is much less. At times they send the Army firefighters over to work with us. Often Iím shocked at what these guys have to put up with day in and day out.

    Like many young guys, when I first got into the whole fire gig, I was very idealistic and not willing to budge and inch about my ultimate goal of working for a large city and I wanted it immediately. After traveling much of the globe (real travel with a backpack, hostels and etc), Iíve learned that there are a lot of things that make me happy. The greatest thing that Iíve gained out of the military is the chance to experience a lot of life before I find the career department in which I plan to retire.

    As I entire the twilight months of my enlistment, I look back with a lot of graditude and fond memories. I will miss these guys more than anything and I wouldnít change this experience for the world!!!

    Dan

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