Hello, I am 17 and senior in high school, and since I was 5, I have wanted to be what every firefighter I talk to calls "the greatest job in the world." Heading into my senior year...it was time to get serious. I applied last summer to a local fire department for their cadet program...and I am currently on the waiting list. I have talked to the 3 firefighter/medics that live next door and the next door down. I have talked to every fire chief in the area and some out of the area on what to do. I have spent the day at a near by station learning about everything there is to know, and I will be spending the night at one of the most busiest stations in the area...Youngstown Fire Department....in Ohio. I have for sure done my research..but one question I am not too sure about. College or no college. Some local places say its good..also Toledo, Ohio and the New York Fire Director that I had the pleasure to talk to. With that said...a captain from Youngstown, the biggest city in the area and Pittsburgh's assistant chief said college was not needed. I am wondering about everyones opinion. I am aware that in Youngstown and the station I spent the day at that it does not help you on the civil service test, and I know Akron, Ohio doesnt give u points either. I will be attending the 36-hour basic class in March and then get my certification card when I am 18 in July...If i dont go to college i will go for the full 240-hour certification in the spring of 09...If i go to college I will have to wait 2 years because the University of Akron does not certify you. Any response would be great..Thanks!
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11-18-2007, 10:20 AM #1
- Join Date
- Nov 2007
11-20-2007, 11:09 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2006
Well, it may or may not delay you but...Think about what an education will do for you down the road. When it comes time for promotions...you're gonna look better....theoretically.
PS. Got my Fire Science Associates before I got hired at my career gig, helped me get hired. Still workin on my BS
11-21-2007, 02:22 AM #3
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
My advice is that you are young enough to take the extra time to go to college. Get your AAS in fire science at least. The great thing is that there are places where you can go to school and be a live-in FF. We have a bunch here in Maine, a few in NH, where I went to school, and last I knew Montgomery Co. MD had a live-in program. I did the latter for a while and heartily recommend it. LOTs of calls, great experience, and veteran firefighters to learn from. While the degree may not matter to get on the job right away, you'll be glad you have it if you make this a career and are ready to try to get promoted. Much easier to do it now then when you are studying for promotional exams, working full-time (maybe with OT) or trying to have a family (if that's your thing).
11-21-2007, 09:58 AM #4
- Join Date
- May 2000
- SW MO
Is college required to get on a career department? No, not likely (at least not around here). Is it going to help you rise to the cream of the crop during test time? You're damn right.
Now here's the question: is a degree required to promote? Most departments around here are moving that direction. My career department requires 60 hrs. or an assoc. degree just to test for captain. A bachelors is required for the chief. They're already talking about the move to require a bachelors for any chief position. There are many, many departments out there that are moving in this direction or already have.
Is it easy to get on a department and get your degree while you're there? Hell no. You have to work around your work schedule to start with, and not all departments are willing to accomodate your school schedule. Then, what if you get married and have kids? It gets even harder.
Here's what I recommend of my Explorers when they ask me... You're young, get your college education while you're not tied down and don't have the responsibilities of a "family man." It's going to be a lot easier now than in a few years when you're trying to work around your schedule. At the same time, that time spent now is going to be worth it when you're ready to test for a job and later when you're ready to try to promote. You can gain experience working a vollie department while you're at school, which will help that much more.
11-21-2007, 11:48 AM #5
I have to agree with the others on this one. You're young enough where you can go straight into college and get AT LEAST an AAS in something, or (I would suggest) getting your BA. And something to remember is that it doesn't have to specifically be in Fire Science either. We have members at work with degrees in everything from Nursing to Psychology to Hotel & Restaurant Management to Human Resources. Some of those are master's degrees, to boot.
While it might not seem like the most exciting thing to delay getting a career gig to go to school, it will pay dividends in the long run. When you eligable for career advancement or promotion, you'll be in that group that's ahead of everyone else who doesn't have a degree. That's when you'll know you made the right decision to work on getting that college degree.
Best of luck during your decision process...Career Fire Captain
Volunteer Chief Officer
Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!
11-21-2007, 12:42 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
I've said it before and I'll say it again...
Fire Protection Engineering.PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.
11-21-2007, 04:12 PM #7
11-23-2007, 04:35 AM #8
I was getting my fire science degree, but one day I thought about where I wanted to end up in my firefighting career. I do want to go career, but I do not want to be on a truck for 30 years. Fire science just seemed to be a one road deal, unless you did get into the fire service then your degree was useless otherwise. I decided to change. So now I am taking classes through Ashford University to get my Bachelors in Organizational Management with a concentration in Public Safety Administration. Does a degree matter for promotions, yes it does. Go online to Firehouse.coms career section. Pull up some higher up jobs such as captain, battalion chief, chief. You will see that they almost all require a degree. Even in Mississippi it is almost a must. To be a chief in many departments now in Mississippi you have to have a college degree in some sort of business, managment, or fire science major. And I want to make it to at least battalion chief (district chief to some of you guys) in my career.
The fire service is having to catch up to the educational standards of the regular world. It is getting to the point that you almost HAVE to have some sort of college education to get anywhere these days. Plus I would feel a lot better knowing my superiors were educated people and not just some person who was next on the promotion list.
11-23-2007, 07:18 AM #9
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
A fire science degree can lead to a career in loss control, fire prevention, insurance claims, fire protection system design, fire investigation, etc. It will also help you as a fire fighter and fire officer in that you should have a higher understanding of the things you are taught in the academy and things you deal with on the job.
The simple fact of life is that there is no single degree program that is going to guarantee you a career in the fire service. But there is nothing PERIOD that will guarantee you a career in the fire service. This may sound harsh but, you might not get on at all no matter what. It may also take you years to get that job.
The point is that, in choosing a degree program, you must figure out a "big picture" and matriculate in an area where you have talent, skill and interest. You like training? What about a degree in corporate communications? You like technical rescue? How about a degree in civil engineering? Haz Mat? Get a degree in chemical engineering.
In my opinion, it really isn't what you get your degree in, it is important for kids to go and get your degree. There are those who profess to be offering "career advice" who will advise you NOT to go to college because you need to devote your full time efforts to get the "badge". This is follhardy advice. Get your degree while you are young and worry about the "badge" later.
Oh, yeah. Don't pay charlatans to provide you with "secrets" to get the "badge". The only person who benefits is them.PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.
11-23-2007, 07:48 AM #10
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
- metro Washingon DC
The academic journey IS part of the reward
Let me reinforce George's point that GETTING THE DEGREE is more important than WHAT DEGREE you want to complete.
80% of the folks who obtain a bachelor degree are NOT working in their field of study four years after graduation.
When I ran a large community college fire science program, about one-third of my students were 40 to 50 year olds. They accomplished much in their fire service career, becoming subject matter experts (SME) in hazardous materials response, USAR, fire investigation, etc.
Working in suburban Washington DC, many of them were working part-time as SMEs for the feds. They anticipated retiring from the fire department and getting a cushy federal job at $90K.
One problem - most had little formal education. No associates degree, no bachelor degree and no graduate degree. The few that did (degrees in Fire Service Admin, History, Business Admin and Music) were able to score those jobs. IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE WHAT THE DEGREE WAS IN, THE KEY WAS THAT THEY EARNED A DEGREE.
The ones that did not were looking at a $35K federal job as a low level technical specialist, reporting to a "know-nothing" 20-something with a degree.
Outside of the fire service, a bachelor degree is the key to initial employment.
There are exceptions to this general rule:
If you want to be a registered professional engineer, need to obtain the appropriate degree.
Need to have enough science and math classes to qualify for medical school.
Allied health professions (nursing, respiratory therapist, paramedic, etc.) also have specific requirements.
If you are under 25 years old, and are are considering a municipal fire department career, getting a bachelor degree is vital for your long-term career success.
.... but what do I know ...
AS General Studies
BS Fire Science Management
Masters in General Administration State and Local Government
BS and masters obtained while I was on the job
retired Captain II
-- now --
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
The George Washington University
If you told me at 25 I would be doing this at 50, I would check your glucose level.
12-04-2007, 11:13 PM #11
Something's Fishy HereUntil you've been on a Harley-Davidson, you haven't been on a motorcycle
12-13-2007, 09:43 PM #12
- Join Date
- Dec 2007
- Union Vale, NY
whether college is required or not...it's always good to have. and like someone else already said...it will look good.
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