Montana is home to 263 fire departments with approximately 560 firefighters and 110 fire service supervisors working for the state. Those looking to explore the firefighting field have several career options to ponder. For example, they can look into becoming an entry-level firefighter, a fire investigator or inspector, or an emergency medical technician, to name a few. Supervisory roles are available as options for those with higher education and more experience in the field.

Yearly compensation varies depending on location, education, and experience, but here is a quick glance at salary figures for firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, and fire service supervisors in Montana at the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentile.

Montana Fire Service Careers 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Firefighters $18,420 $45,230 $57,940
Fire Inspectors and Investigators $31,900 $43,400 $69,170
Fire Science Supervisors $32,060 $49,600 $70,760


Hopeful firefighters in Montana have two choices when it comes to training and education; they can either choose to enroll in an associate degree program or earn a certificate in fire science. If you’re just looking to become an entry-level firefighter and not necessarily looking to go beyond this occupation, then the certificate route will suffice. It is generally less time-intensive.

Those considering advancing their careers will benefit from earning an associate degree from a community college. Generally, this degree takes two years of full-time study to complete, and delves into each subject a bit deeper than the certificate route does. However, those with an associate degree will be considered for higher-level firefighting occupations such as fire inspectors and fire investigators.

Both levels will provide students a solid understanding of firefighting, EMT services, and hazardous materials handling. Additionally, they will take basic core classes such as math and English, which are designed to provide them with strong communication and reasoning skills on the job, in addition to fire science knowledge and firefighting skills.


Montana is home to two universities that offer fire science training and degree programs.


Winters can get really brutal in Montana, so online learning is a great option for students looking to earn a fire science degree without having to deal with commuting issues or having to brave the cold to get to every class. However, because firefighting is a very hands-on profession, even most online classes will require students to meet on-campus occasionally to complete projects in-person to get the hands-on experience, however, most classes are designed so that students can learn most of the materials at their own pace, in their own place.

Reliable Internet connection, a drive to succeed, and excellent time management skills are required of students who plan to take the distance learning route. Most of the degree programs also require that students volunteer or intern at a local fire department to gain real-life experience in the profession.