How to Become a Firefighter in Texas – Schools and Degree Programs

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Firefighter Career in Texas

One of the questions that come to mind while considering enrolling for firefighting courses is; what does it take to become a firefighter in Texas? Firefighters offer their services during emergency medical conditions like fire and accidents. Their profession is emotionally exhausting, but rewarding too. In case of emergencies, they need to work for extremely long hours. Their job responsibilities include rescue operations, maintenance, preparedness, hazardous materials awareness, etc.

The advantages of pursuing a career as a firefighter are:

  • It gives you the immense pleasure of serving the society with your valuable services.
  • Moreover, some fire departments and agencies provide continuing education and advancement opportunities to firefighters.
  • Along with a good salary, these professionals get various non-monetary benefits such as paid time off, sick leaves, dental coverage, disability insurance, retirement packages, etc.

Firefighter Texas Education Requirements

Well, there are certain educational requirements that aspirants are supposed to fulfill. These are as follows:

  1. Obtain a High School Diploma

    Candidates must be of 18 years to enroll for high school diploma or GED. A criminal background check is also a mandatory requirement to get a diploma in high school.

  2. Get Certified as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)

    Aspirants must have an EMT certificate to obtain a certification in firefighting. A clean criminal record, good vision, and strong physical stamina are some of the pre-requisites to enroll for EMT certification program.

  3. Earn Certificate or Degree in Firefighting

    Get into the Fire Academy Texas to obtain a certification or degree in firefighting. You can choose the program according to your career aspirations.

How Long does it take to Become a Firefighter?

The duration to become a firefighter depends on various factors such as what firefighting position you are looking for, competition in the firefighting job market in your area, how efficient you are in your studies, etc. It may take 5 months to 7 years to become a firefighter in Texas.

If you have a diploma in high school or GED or equivalent, it will take 3-4 months to achieve the EMT certification and a few months to complete the application process. If you undergo advanced pre-employment training, it may take up to 5 years. In case, you want to become a full paramedic firefighter, you will have to pursue 4-year bachelor’s degree in fire science, and it may extend the duration of becoming a firefighter to 7 years. The probation period may vary from 6 months to a year.

Volunteer Firefighter in Texas

To become a volunteer firefighter, aspirants need to complete 110 hours of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) course or other relevant courses accredited by the NFPA.

Working as a volunteer firefighter gives you a lot of advantages in your career. Some of them are as follows:

  • You get acquainted with the working environment.
  • Aspirants acquire requisite skills that help them in completing their regular firefighting tasks.
  • Some firefighter departments and agencies pay hourly wages or stipend to the volunteers.
  • As you get in touch with many experienced firefighters, your professional network expands, which might help you get a better job.

How Much do Firefighters Make in Texas?

As of September 01, 2018, Texas firefighter salary was between $32,430 and $54,050 (according to salary.com). Their average salary was $43,240. According to indeed.com, as of September 19, 2018, firefighters in Texas made an average annual salary of $49,304, which was 17% above the national average wage.

The mean annual and hourly salary of a firefighter, as per the BLS (as of May 2017) was $53,480 and $25.71, respectively. The average annual salary of these professionals at 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile was $30,400, $39,380, $52,420, $65,450, and $79,640, respectively.

Firefighter Jobs in Texas

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017, Texas was one of the states with the highest employment level in firefighting. The state employed 27,900 firefighters, and the employment per thousand jobs was 2.35.

Firefighters have a promising future in the state of Texas; however, aspiring candidates will have to face a cut-throat competition to enter this field. A large number of firefighter retirements will result in job openings for these professionals in the coming years.

Firefighter Training Program

The Texas Commission on Fire Protection requires students to complete 471 hours of training in firefighting. Firefighter training programs in Texas are available at three levels:

Certificate: Certificate programs in fire science are of one year and typically include classroom lectures and practical training at a local training facility or a fire academy. The certification courses cover public safety, incident management, equipment handling, emergency operations, fire safety, etc. You can consider pursuing Firefighter I and II certifications, Rescue Technician Certifications, etc.

Associate’s Degree: Aspiring candidates need to study for two years to complete an associate’s degree in fire science. This degree program makes students eligible for entry-level firefighting jobs. The curriculum is designed to provide knowledge about the chemistry of fire science, rescue procedures, basics of fire extinguishing, fire codes and laws, EMT basics, etc.

Bachelor’s Degree: This 4-year degree program is the best option for those aspirants who are working as a firefighter and looking for advancement in their career or those aspirants who want to learn the management aspects of this field such as fire research and prevention, personnel management, and disaster planning.

How to Become a Certified Firefighter in Texas?

To work as a certified firefighter in Texas, aspirants need to follow the general and specific guidelines provided by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.

Step 1 – Acquire a High School Diploma or Equivalent

Obtain a GED or high school diploma, or GED from an accredited school. Various educational institutions have different requirements that students must fulfill to get enrolled.

Step 2 – Work as a Volunteer Firefighter

Working as a volunteer fireman makes it easy for you to get into this profession. Moreover, you obtain an on-job experience and also get opportunities to build professional contacts.

Step 3 – Earn a Fire Science Degree

Depending on your career aspirations, you may choose to pursue an associate’s (2-year) or bachelor’s (4-year) degree from an accredited college. The programs are designed to instill practical as well as the theoretical knowledge.

Step 4 – Obtain Firefighter Certification and Apply for Job

Clear the firefighter certification conducted by your state. Once you acquire the certification, start applying for the firefighting jobs.

Top Texas Fire Academies and Schools

Looking for the top firefighter academy or firefighter programs in Texas? The below-given list will help you arrive at the right decision.

  1. Amarillo College

    Amarillo College is headquartered in Amarillo, Texas and has a technical training center, an outreach center, and six campuses. The college offers certificate and associate degree programs in Allied Health, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services, etc., under its Fire Protection Technology Program. The college also grants financial aid to the eligible students. The highly interactive online courses provided by Amarillo College are convenient, fast, and affordable.
    Address: P.O. Box 447, Amarillo, Texas 79178
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The programs offered by this college prepare students for higher education. They can also enter the workforce immediately after completing the course from Amarillo College.

  2. Austin Community College District

    Austin Community College aims to provide flexible and affordable education to students to equip them with job skills and help them advance their career. The college offers associate and baccalaureate degrees in various streams and is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Under its Fire Protection Technology Program, the college imparts hands-on instruction in a state-of-the-art facility.
    Address: 5930 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, Texas 78752
    Course Offered: Associate and Bachelor Degrees
    Key Highlights: The coursework provides advanced knowledge and required skills to work as Municipal Firefighters, Municipal Firefighting and Prevention Supervisors, Forest Firefighters, Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists, Fire Investigators, Fire Inspectors, etc.

  3. Blinn College

    Committed to education excellence and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board, Blinn College was founded in 1883. The college is recognized at the national level and offers programs in Emergency Medical Services, Vocational Nursing, Dental Hygiene, etc. The college has a partnership with Texas Engineering Extension Services for providing fire science programs in its Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station. Here, eligible fire academy students can also receive financial aid.
    Address: 902 College Avenue, Brenham, Texas 77833
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The Fire Science Program of the college is recognized by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. Students receive 12 weeks of classroom instruction in life safety and fire protection along with hands-on training with firefighter apparatus, equipment, and props.

  4. Central Texas College

    Central Texas College was established in 1992 as a charitable non-profit corporation. The college aims to generate community support for the programs offered by it to the staff, faculty, and students. With the presence at over 100 locations, the college has a worldwide reach. It offers courses in Fire Protection Technology and Associate of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Administration. The associate degree course covers many aspects, including principles of basic emergency management, firefighting strategies and tactics, fundamentals of fire protection, etc.
    Address: P.O. Box 1800, Killeen, Texas 76540-1800
    Course Offered: Certificate Programs and Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: After completing 12 semester credit hours of Fire Protection Technology program, aspirants may fulfill the primary job requisites of a municipal fire department.

  5. College of the Mainland

    Dedicated to student success, College of the Mainland is a learning-centered educational institute that focuses on the economic and intellectual prosperity of the diverse communities. The Fire Technology Program of the college offers AAS degree in Fire Technology and Continuing Education. Various weekend courses that are designed on the basis of the curriculum of the State Firefighters and Fire Marshal’s Association (SFFMA) are also conducted for veteran volunteer firefighters.
    Address: 1200 Amburn Road, Texas City, Texas 77591
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: Fire Science Online ranked its Fire Science Technology Program at number 34 in the nation for ROI (Return on Investment).

  6. Collin College

    Collin College is the only public institution in the county that offers over 100 certificates and degrees in various fields. The college serves about 53,000 continuing and credit education students each year. It provides Fire Academy and Fire Science programs for students who want to become a firefighter. The Fire Academy program includes EMT training. After completing the Fire Officer Certificate programs, students can apply for state certification examinations for Fire Officer I, II; and Fire Instructor I, II.
    Address: 3452 Spur 399, McKinney, Texas 75069
    Course Offered: Certificate Programs
    Key Highlights: The Fire Science program prepares students to take up a leadership role as Fire Officer. Students gain technical knowledge required to overcome the fire-related problems. The program fulfills the requirements of the TCFP (Texas Commission on Fire Protection).

  7. Houston Community College

    If you want to become a firefighter in Houston, Houston Community College is the best pick. The college provides affordable, high quality and innovative education to students to prepare them to work in a technological and global society. The Fire Science and Safety Program offers technical competencies in life safety, fire service management, fire prevention, fire suppression, etc. Certificates and degrees options under this program are Fire Instructor – Occupational Skills Award, Fire Officer I Certificate Level 1, and Firefighter – AAS/Online Option.
    Address: 3100 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002
    Course Offered: Certificate Program and Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The certificate and degree programs provide knowledge about rescue techniques, fire ground operations, hazardous materials awareness, tools and equipment, etc.

  8. El Paso Community College – Northwest Campus

    El Paso Community College was opened in 1994. It is accredited by the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission) and aims to prepare students for personal, professional and academic growth through affordable, quality, and accessible education. The college offers courses in basic firefighting, fire inspection, fire management, and fire science. The college also offers distance learning options and financial aid.
    Address: 6701 South Desert Road, El Paso, Texas 79932
    Course Offered: Certificate Programs and Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The certificate course in firefighting prepares students for performing duties of fire inspections. The fire management degree prepares students for management and supervisory role in the fire service.

  9. El Centro College – Dallas County Community College District

    If you want to be a firefighter in Dallas, Texas, enroll in Dallas County Community College which is one of the largest community colleges in the state. El Centro College of Dallas County Community College District offers Fire Protection Technology program which is accredited by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The college gives CE (Continuing Education) such as Fire Officer I, II; and Arson Investigation.
    Address: 801 Main Street, Dallas, Texas 75202
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The fire science curriculum is designed by the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy to help students pursue careers in fire management and emergency services.

  10. South Plains College

    South Plains College is a 2-year community college that offers advanced courses in various disciplines. Through it has short-term training and workforce development programs, the college helps students achieve marketable skills to meet job requirements. The Fire Technology program of this college comprises Basic Fire Academy Level 1 Certificate (25 credit hours), Advanced Fire Technology Level 2 Certificate (20 credit hours), and Associate of Applied Science in Fire Technology (15 credit hours).
    Address: 1401 College Avenue, Box 5, Levelland, Texas 79336
    Course Offered: Certificate Programs and Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: All the firefighting programs offered by the college cover advanced fire service topics that help students gain immediate employment after completion of the course.

Other Texas Fire Schools

  1. McLennan Community College
    Address: 1400 College Drive, Waco, Texas 76708
    Official Website: www.mclennan.edu
  1. San Antonio College
    Address: 1819 North Main Avenue, San Antonio, Texas 78212
    Official Website: https://www.alamo.edu/sac/
  1. Tyler Junior College
    Address: 1327 South Baxter Avenue, Tyler, Texas 75701
    Official Website: https://www.tjc.edu/
  1. Odessa College
    Address: 201 West University, Odessa, Texas 79764
    Official Website: https://www.odessa.edu/
  1. Hill College
    Address: 112 Lamar Hillsboro, Texas 76645
    Official Website: https://www.hillcollege.edu/
  1. Southwestern Adventist University
    Address: 100 West Hillcrest Street, Keene, Texas 76059
    Official Website: https://www.swau.edu/
  1. Lone Star College System
    Address: 5000 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77381
    Official Website: http://www.lonestar.edu/
  1. Navarro College
    Address: 3200 West 7th Avenue, Corsicana, Texas 75110
    Official Website: https://www.navarrocollege.edu/
  1. Kilgore College
    Address: 1100 Broadway, Kilgore, Texas 75662
    Official Website: www.kilgore.edu
  1. Vernon College
    Address: 4400 College Drive, Vernon, Texas 76384
    Official Website: https://www.vernoncollege.edu/
  1. Wharton County Junior College
    Address: 911 Boling Highway, Wharton, Texas 77488
    Official Website: https://www.wcjc.edu/
  1. Weatherford College
    Address: 225 College Park Drive, Weatherford, Texas 76086
    Official Website: https://www.wc.edu/

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