Fire Science Associate’s Degree Programs – Course, Duration, and Cost

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Most of the fire science organizations and departments require professionals to complete formal training in fire science before getting hired. The fire science associate’s degree provides students with basic knowledge and skills to enter the highly competitive firefighting career. The associate’s degree in fire science also serves as the foundation to advanced fire science degrees and programs such as consulting, departmental management, teaching, etc.

Some colleges award the fire science associate’s degree as an Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science. This degree introduces students to various aspects of code inspection, fire prevention, fire suppression, arson investigation, fire engineering, departmental leadership, etc. One of the major requirements to enroll for this degree program is – the aspirant must have a high school diploma.

Why Pursue Fire Science Associate’s Degree?

Graduating with associate’s degree provides you with the following benefits:

  • At the time of recruitment, candidates who graduated with an associate’s degree in fire science are given preference over those having certification.
  • Moreover, this degree enhances your skills and knowledge about the fire science field and broadens your career path.
  • Degree holders are generally offered an excellent salary package.

From Where can you Take Fire science Associate’s Degree?

Aspirants can pursue an associate’s degree in fire science from:

  • Fire Schools
  • Junior Colleges
  • Online Universities
  • Community Colleges
  • Fire Academies

Before choosing any program, be sure that it is accredited by an authenticated agency. Accreditation ascertains that the degree and certificate programs offered by the schools, colleges, and universities meet all the required standards and the institution is qualified to participate in financial aid programs.

Community and Junior CollegesAccrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Online Programs and SchoolsDistance Education and Training Council
Accredited Fire School or College1.  Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education

2. The International Fire Service Accreditation Congress

The NFA (National Fire Academy) recognizes accreditations from 6 regional bodies approved by the CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) and the U.S. Department of Education.

Duration of Fire Science Associate Degree Programs

It takes 2 years of full-time study to obtain an associate’s degree in fire science. Students are supposed to complete 60 credit hours, including elective, major, and general education courses.

Cost of Fire Science Associate Degree Programs

The cost of fire science associate degree programs depends on various factors such as whether you choose to pursue it online or on-campus, whether you are an in-state or out-state student, etc. The fee of in-state students in different states varies from $9,000 to $25,000 while the fee for out-of-state students varies from $10,000 to $30,000. This fee may or may not include books costs and other costs.

Some colleges and professional associations such as the National Fire Protection Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs Foundation, the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, etc., provide many scholarships to help students cover the cost of their associate’s in fire science degree program. However, applicants are supposed to meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining the scholarship.

Coursework of Fire Science Associate Degree Programs

The coursework for fire science associate’s degree varies according to school. The curriculum is divided into classroom lectures and hands-on training. Those who pursue online fire science associate degree program have to complete their hands-on training on their own at the nearby fire academy or fire agency.

However, all the programs cover the following courses, in general.

1. Fire Prevention Basics

Students learn the basics of fire prevention, procedures of fire safety inspection, standard practices for fire safety, code enforcement, etc.

2. Introduction to Emergency Services

The coursework emphasizes on the emergency services terminology, regulations that are applicable during emergencies, and structure of emergency service organizations.

3. Water and Hydraulic Principles

Aspirants get an insight into strategies, challenges, and methods for the use of water supply systems. This course also covers suppression and foam agent delivery.

4. Building Codes and Construction

You get a comprehensive knowledge of code compliances, buildings design, and construction materials affecting fire suppression and combustion.

5. Protection/Suppression Systems

The curriculum gives students an overview of uses and types of sprinklers, spray systems, standpipes, and water mist.

6. Firefighting Strategy and Tactical Procedures

You learn how various factors such as extinguishing agents, type of fire, environmental conditions, and kind of structure affect the fire suppression tactics and strategies.

7. Fire Combustion and Behaviors

Students learn the chemical and physical properties of fire, what are the components that make water a fire suppressant, the scientific process how fire burns and ignites, etc.

Learning Outcomes

After completion of the associate’s degree, students will be able to:

  • Identify the causes of fire and apply tactics and strategies to emergencies.
  • Apply leadership and management principles to the operations of the Fire Department.
  • Operate and inspect automated fire suppression and protection systems.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of behavioral and cultural changes in Emergency and Fire Services.

Future Outlook

After completing the associate’s degree in fire science, students can opt for higher education and pursue bachelor’s degree. They can also work with local fire service agencies, armed forces, fire departments, construction companies, etc., as a firefighter, fire investigator, fire prevention specialist, fire instructor or fire inspector. The median annual pay of firefighters in May 2017 was $49,080 while median hourly wage was $23.60 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Excellent job prospects are predicted for fire science professionals in near future, but at the same time, there will be a tough competition to get the job. Thus, professionals with associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the related field will be in a win-win situation.


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