Firefighter Career in Alaska
Firefighting is a profession of vital importance in the United States, and the state of Alaska is no different. From forest fires to urban ones, these brave men and women are required continuously to put their lives on the line to save others. Therefore, firefighters need to be in exceptional shape, both emotionally and physically, ready to spring in action at a moment’s notice.
Furthermore, according to BLS, fire prevention is a line of work which is expected to grow 7% from the year 2012 to 2020. If you are looking to become a firefighter in Alaska, then you need to buckle up because it is not going to be a cake-walk. Since there are only a few spots available, you will have to fight tooth and nail to earn your jersey.
Firefighter Training in Alaska
During the training period, an aspiring firefighter is pushed to limits, both physically and mentally. Students are required to give equal regard to classroom work and physical training. In the classes they are taught about fire laws and regulations, methods of fire prevention, basic Biology and Chemistry principles, how to handle hazardous material, and many other such subjects. Meanwhile, on the training field, they are given live fire drills and trained to use various fireman gears like how to operate a water hose, axes, etc.
The aspirants are also prepared for various certification exams, like EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), which is a requirement to be a fireman in Alaska. Many colleges across the state provide multiple programs which you can opt to get ready for your certification exams. Meanwhile, firefighters wishing to advance in their careers can go for a fire science degree. To climb up the hierarchy, a fireman can apply for an Associates or a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Science as well.
These degrees help you apply and prepare you for jobs in the administrative wing. Furthermore, a master’s degree in Fire Science will help you to take up a research post which is very lucrative. Also, you can go in the other direction and aim to become a fire inspector or investigator, whose job it is to study the remnants of fire to try and find out if it was an accident or deliberate. Based on their findings, they are then asked to submit a report to the fire department they are linked to.
Alaska Firefighter Eligibility and Certification
To become a firefighter, you must
- be at least 18 years old
- hold a high school diploma or a GED
- have a valid driver’s license
- not have a criminal background
- have an EMT certification
- good communication skills
- possess impressive reasoning and problem-solving skills
Top Firefighter Schools in Alaska
Throughout the state, there are a few firefighter training academies which train and educate students to become firefighters along with preparing them for a life in the force. Below is the list of the most notable firefighter schools in Alaska:
Located in Barrow, this college has been providing skilled firefighters to the country for years now. It is a public institution which has a student population of 838. It has two courses to offer – a certificate course in Fire Science/Firefighting and an Associates’ degree in Fire Science/ Firefighting. It is a fairly reasonable college with an in-state and out-state tuition fee of $3,000. On top of regular, full-time classes, this college also offers an online learning program for those who have a job or live far away.
Situated in Fairbanks, this public college is widely known for training firefighters of astonishing physical and mental capabilities. It is one of the highest ranked colleges in the entire nation with degrees of great weight, and there are many reasons for the same. It offers both online and campus courses for an Associates’ degree in Fire Science/Firefighting. Going to this college will cost you $4,176 if you are from Alaska and $14,832 for an outsider. This degree majorly concentrates on municipal fire control, hazardous material control, emergency medical services, and wildland fire control.
UAA offers Associate of Applied Science in Fire and Emergency services technology degree for those students who are planning a career in emergency services, or professional firefighters looking to climb up in the hierarchy. The course covers topics like building construction, safety and survival, and fire prevention. It is a sixty credit degree which is spread over the following subjects:
- EMT A130 Emergency Medical Technician I – 8 credits
- FIRE A101 Principles of Emergency Services – 3 credits
- FIRE A105 Fire Prevention – 3 credits
- FIRE A121 Fire Behavior and Combustion – 3 credits
- FIRE A206 Building Construction Issues Related to Fire Protection – 3 credits
- FIRE A214 Fire Protection Systems – 3 credits
- FIRE A221 Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Safety and Survival – 3 credits
- FIRE A295 Fire and Emergency Services Practicum – 3 credits
A student is required to score at least C in all the Fire and EMT subjects to get the degree.
Firefighters in Alaska earn an average income of $58,420 annually and an average hourly wage of $28.09. This window, however, can move up and down based on multiple factors. Annual firefighter salaries in Alaska usually start at $34,840 and climb up to $80,590. On the other hand, the hourly wage for firefighters in Alaska begins at $16.75 and climbs up to $38.75.
Firefighters get paid on the basis of their experience too, as shown below:
Source: Career Explorer
There are 147 fire stations in Alaska which have got only 1,150 firefighters employed. Given the low industry growth numbers, it is safe to say that there aren’t many posts available for firefighters in Alaska. So, you will need to put your best foot forward and make sure that you are in a tip-top physical state. Please don’t underestimate the value of the written exam either, as it also holds a major role in the selection process.