Helping prevent and fight fires or determining how they started leads to a number of careers in the fire safety and protection service industry. Although this field can be rewarding, it may not be for everyone, as it has physical and mental standards for all employees.
Fire safety and protection can be an interesting field that includes the career tracks of firefighters, fire inspectors, fire investigators, fire prevention specialists and hazardous material workers. Firefighting requires someone who has good judgment, courage and mental alertness.
Required Skills and Abilities
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), applicants for municipal firefighting jobs must generally pass written exams, tests of strength, physical stamina, coordination and agility (www.bls.gov). They must also complete medical examinations that include drug screening.
In some fire departments, a degree may be required and/or can lead to a promotion. Some topics covered in classes may be fire dynamics, fire safety analysis, hazardous materials, fire arson investigation, fire protection, fire hydraulics and fire prevention.
Fire protection and safety classes are available through undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The following are some degree options you can pursue:
- Associate’s Degree in Fire Prevention
- Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science with a Prevention Emphasis
Today, online programs are very common, including fire safety and protection. Although some parts of the program may have in-person requirements, the following are some of the online options offered:
- Online Fire Protection and Fire Science Degrees
- Online Bachelor’s in Fire Science
- Online Fire Inspector Classes
Many career opportunities can come from studies in fire safety and protection. These are just a small sample of career options:
- Fire Protection Engineer
- Fire Protection Inspector
- Arson Investigator
- Fire Training Instructor
Certification Options and Requirements
For some careers in fire and safety protection, you must earn a certification, such as the following:
- Fire Safety Certificate and Certification
- Fire Inspection Certification
- Firefighter Certificate and Certification
- Safety Engineer Certification
The median annual wage for firefighters was $49,620 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,170, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,920. Employment of firefighters is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Employment of fire inspectors and investigators is also expected to be slower-than-average at a rate of six percent; however, opportunities for hazardous materials removal workers are projected to grow 14% in the 2012-2022 decade. Wage data from 2013 reveals that fire inspectors and investigators earned a mean income of $58,100 while hazardous materials workers made $42,220, according to the BLS.