Pursuing A Certificate In Fire Science
Overview: The Certificate Degree
Students new to the firefighting career will benefit from earning certificate degrees from accredited colleges, which offers targeted training and introductory coursework to give them a good foundation of the field of work they’re about to get themselves into. Those seeking advanced positions in the firefighting field will also be at an advantage if they have postsecondary education.
Those wishing to learn fire science but dreading those elective classes will enjoy the certificate program. It cuts to the chase and only requires students to take relevant coursework, sans the general education classes that associate or bachelor’s students have to take in order to earn their degrees. Certificates will meet employer requirements for entry-level firefighting positions.
Certificates in Fire Science
Fire science and emergency first response certificate programs are available through many community colleges, fire schools, and online institutions. These programs can meet basic state educational requirements at the entry-level. Students looking to pursue a certificate in the fire science field can expect to take anywhere from four to ten classes depending on the scope of the program.
Fire science certificate programs will shed light on theory and tactics in firefighting, fire behavior, prevention engineering, emergency medical services, rescue operations, and hazardous materials handling, to name a few.
Why Go for a Fire Science Certificate?
Employment requirements for firefighters will vary from state to state, but generally speaking, most employers require that aspirants have some sort of postsecondary education and basic career training before bringing them on board. Pursuing a fire science certificate will allow you to not only prepare for employment on a general level, it will also teach you the basics of fire science which will allow you to excel in the workforce. Also, if you plan to move up the ranks and take on a managerial or supervisory role in the future, having a certificate will give you one step up, closer to earning a higher degree, such as a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
Certificate programs usually take around a year of full-time study to complete, and the best part is that they do not require students to take general education courses unrelated to fire science like associate degree programs do. Prospective firefighters may look into getting a certificate in the following fire science fields:
- Airport Firefighter
- Fire Instructor
- Wildland Firefighter
- Fire Investigator
- Department Administration
- Apparatus Driver
- Rescue Technician
If you are looking to possibly transfer course credit from your certificate degree into a higher degree program in the future, it is highly advised that you speak with a school counselor to make sure that all the classes you take will transfer over with other degree-granting schools.
Fire Science Certificate Programs: Coursework Breakdown
As you’re conducting research on the different certificate programs available for fire science, you may be wondering what kind of coursework you’ll be expected to complete during your year of study. To give you a better idea of what you can expect, we have put together a list of common courses along with a short description of what each entails:
- Fire Investigation
- Learn how to prepare a location for investigation and analysis after a fire has been put out.
- Get an overview of ignition, spread, and expansion of blazes.
- Familiarize yourself with processes for commercial and industrial settings, watercraft, vehicles, and dwellings.
- Wildland Fires
- Explore the different causes of wildland fires, as well as fire behaviors and techniques for putting out these fires.
- Firefighting Operations
- You can’t be a firefighter without knowing the different firefighting techniques, such as using water and fire-suppression agents to suppress flames, safety procedures, and equipment use!
- Code Enforcement
- Learn the formal building and fire codes that come in handy on the job.
- Law & Fire Service
- Get acquainted with topics such as worker’s compensation, criminal liability, labor regulations, emergency services, investigatory procedures, and more.
- Fire Administration
- Learn about fire leadership theory and incident management systems.
- Fire Service Fitness
- As a firefighter, you’ll have to be physically fit and maintain your stamina and endurance — and that’s where this class comes in to make sure that you meet all fitness levels required of prospective firefighters.
- HAZMAT Response
- Learn how to use protective clothing, respiratory devices, and decontamination procedures.
Earning a Fire Science Certificate Online
Distance learning is becoming a popular means for students to earn their degrees online. With evolving lifestyles and innovative technologies, students are able to juggle their work, family, and personal obligations while pursuing their fire science certificate on the web.
Online fire science degree programs are designed to allow students who cannot meet on-campus to get a quality education in the field. For example, those with full-time jobs may find it difficult to set aside huge chunks of time for classes they need to complete in order to earn their certificate. Web-based learning allows students to learn at their own pace, and in their own time. It is extremely flexible and convenient, as long as students have reliable Internet and the ability to work independently with little to no hand-holding from professors or other peers.
Another advantage to online learning is the fact that students can virtually learn from anywhere in the world! Those living in remote areas of the country can log in from the comfort of their own homes and access lectures, training videos, class resources, and more — all online, 24/7.
In addition to wholly online courses, students also have the option to take hybrid classes, which combine both online learning with a hands-on element. Hands-on learning is critical for aspiring firefighters because the profession is literally all hands-on! It requires firefighters to be able to not only be knowledgeable in the field, but also be able to apply their knowledge at work. Hybrid classes allow students to meet occasionally in a training facility to practice equipment training, fire scene investigations, and emergency medical procedures, for example. These are all prime tasks that all firefighters engage in on a typical work day.
The Importance of Accreditation
When researching colleges, accreditation is an important factor to consider for several reasons. Accreditation ensures that you are getting the best educational value for what you are investing monetarily. Accredited colleges are reviewed extensively by education agencies in each state to ensure that the institutions and coursework are up-to-date and of high quality. By attending a college that meets or exceeds training standards for fire science education, your degree will be easily recognizable by potential employers after graduation.
If you are thinking of continuing education at one point in the future, you will also want to think about the possibility of transferring college credits earned from pursuing your certificate. Generally, these credits can only be transferred between accredited colleges. By earning a certificate in a non-accredited college, you may not be able to get credit for completed courses and may have to retake them at the next level. To avoid spending more money and time than you have to on these classes, make sure that you’re getting your degree from an accredited college.