How to Become a Fire Protection Technician
DUTIES OF A FIRE PROTECTION TECHNICIAN
Fire protection technicians are responsible for coming up with solutions to protect people, homes, and buildings from fire and the damage that may result from it.
Employed by federal, state, and local firefighting organizations, these professionals use specialized modeling software to study the fire risks at certain places. Some also work with manufacturing firms to design, make, and deploy up-to-date fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and extinguishers. This profession requires a minimum of a high school diploma. Training and requirements of certification varies from state to state.
HOW MUCH DO FIRE PROTECTION TECHNICIANS MAKE?
Fire protection technicians can either work as fire inspectors and investigators or occupation health and safety technicians. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, fire inspectors make an average annual salary of $55,440, while occupational health technicians earn an average of $47,380 a year.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO BECOMING A FIRE PROTECTION TECHNICIAN
Step 1: Start as a firefighter.
Fire protection technicians begin their careers as firefighters and work their way up through rankings by showing optimal performance on the job, undergoing training and experience, and pursuing higher-level education. To be a firefighter, one must have at least a high school degree or equivalent, and pass a written and physical exam. Starting out as a firefighter will not only give you a solid understanding of the profession at a more general level, it will prepare you for other related jobs in the field should you decide this profession is for you.
Aspiring fire protection technicians are required to pass physical, stress, drug, and background tests prior to employment. This means that it is important to be fit and physically capable, and have a clean record. Aspirants should be able to work well under high-stress and dangerous conditions.
Step 2: Get into a fire protection technician training program.
Fire protection technician training programs are designed to provide more formal training to aspirants by employing classroom and laboratory hands-on experience with field work on real-life fire scenarios. Students can expect to train in special computer software programs used to determine fire risk based on variables in structural design, evacuation plans, fire alarm, building materials, and suppression systems. Additionally, training programs may also provide refresher classes in basic subjects like firefighting science, hazardous materials, rescue methods, and emergency medical service, for example.
In addition to training, fire protection technicians are expected to participate in public outreach. With this said, they have to acquire technical skills to develop and implement pre-incident plans, investigate fires, and demonstrate public fire education programs to spread awareness to the community. Technicians should be open to doing research when needed, and gather information from fire scenarios to finding more effective fire prevention technology in the future.
Step 3: Build new skills & earn your credentials.
Just like in any profession, building versatile skills and earning new credentials always opens doors to better work opportunities. While not all fire protection technicians choose a single specialty, you can consider the different paths you can take as one. For example, some work as fire inspectors and investigators or occupation health and safety technicians. Others may even consider going deeper and specializing in fire engineering. Regardless of which you choose to pursue, you’ll want to take technician training to go up in rank with your fire service organization. Promotion is a lot more likely after proven increase in value to your fire agency.
Credentials can take the form of new certifications or fire science degrees from four-year or post-graduate schools. Many states prefer hiring technicians who hold higher credentials, as it provides a standard basis of determining their knowledge and abilities. Going back to school is a great way to not only refresh knowledge and skills, but also to gain insight on new findings, techniques, and other useful information that are applicable on the job.
FIRE PROTECTION TECHNICIAN JOB REQUIREMENTS
Aspiring fire protection technicians must meet the following requirements to be considered:
- Have a high school diploma and preferably an associate’s degree
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have at least some college education
- Must undergo on-the-job training
- Be open to working in both indoor and outdoor scenes
- Be open to research and applying work techniques accordingly
- Be fit and physically capable