Thread: College Degree

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    Question College Degree

    How many of you have a college degree? If you don't do you wish you had one? Whats a good major if you plan on becoming a firefighter?

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    I have one. Depending on what college you go to and what degree's then provide it can vary. A lot of people say that a Fire Science or anything related to fire would be a good one. Personally I think that if you get a degree in anything it shows that you have committed to something and are willing to commit to a job. In other words it shows that you didn't give up. I got my degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political science. Neither have anything to do with the fire service.

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    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.

    What’s the time line? If you’re 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 you’re 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
    Assistant Professor

    In my preferred world, a high school graduate will attend college and obtain an undergraduate bachelor’s degree PRIOR to getting a “real” 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 – 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 “what-if” game that reminds me of high school dating.

    Captain Bob’s approach to focus on only doing things to get the BADGE is like the suggestions I provide to younger wanna-be’s.

    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 parent’s 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
    _____________________________________________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Two friends, Dave and Scott were volunteers in their city. Dave had been convinced that he needed to get a degree in order to be hired. Scott told him to stay, become a medic and they would get on. Dave went off for six years, got his BA degree in business and still couldn’t get hired. Scott became a medic and was hired by his volunteer department. He now has 6 years seniority, made more than $100,000 each year with OT ($140,000 last year---that’s real money) and enjoys the good life, more toys than you could imagine and has traveled everywhere.

    Guess what? Dave was still trying to get a fire job after six years. Even after getting all the usual credentials. Firefighter 1, BA degree, 3 seasons with CDF, rode ambulance yada, yada, yada, Dave finally figured out he needed to become a medic (yes, he enjoys the medic side) to get hired. After getting his medic cert, he got hired. Where you ask? The department he was a volunteer for.
    _____________________________________________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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