North Carolina has many professional opportunities available for firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, fire service supervisors, and emergency responders throughout the state. In fact, the state has around 13,000 firefighters serving 1,000 fire stations. Prospective firefighters can begin their career as a firefighter by exploring the different community colleges and universities that offer fire science education in North Carolina.

The annual wages for North Carolina firefighters vary depending on location, education, experience, and certification levels. Take a look at the chart below to see the average yearly earnings of firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, and fire service supervisors in North Carolina at the entry, median, and advanced levels.

North Carolina Fire Service Careers 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Firefighters $19,980 $31,430 $47,940
Fire Inspectors and Investigators $31,260 $49,280 $63,900
Fire Service Supervisors $30,790 $48,920 $68,450


Whether you’re looking to earn a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree in fire science, North Carolina has them all! To earn a certificate in fire science, prospective firefighters will undergo training at a fire academy. Not only will they have to pass the written tests, they will also have to train for the physical exam, as being fit and strong is a required to meet the physical demands of fire science. In addition to academic and physical training, students are also encouraged to complete EMT training as well.

An associate’s degree will provide students with a solid foundation and overview of firefighting and different aspects associated with the job, such as hazardous materials handling, fire chemistry, and firefighting tactics and techniques, to name a few. Additionally, students will take general education courses and may also volunteer or intern for the local fire department to gain hands-on work experience. This experience will also give prospective firefighters a chance to network with current firefighters and really get a taste for what a day in the life of a firefighter is like!

Current firefighters looking to advance their career may consider going for a bachelor’s degree in fire science. This degree usually takes four years of full-time study to complete, and will cover both basic and expansive topics in fire science. Students may even get a chance to pick a specialization that interests them (some examples include fire investigation, technology, and engineering, to name a few). Similar to students at the associate degree, students will also be required to take general education classes if they’re not already complete from previous education. These courses are designed to develop strong communication and reasoning skills at work after graduation.


North Carolina is home to many college and university programs for students to choose from.


Fire science requires a lot of hands-on work, so even online education may require students to complete projects or tasks in person occasionally to get that type of experience. However, students with a busy schedule or personal obligations to attend to may benefit from distance learning. Online classes allow students to learn material at their own pace and place, which is very convenient. Students are able to juggle other things going on in life while earning their degree.

Web-based learning students are expected to complete and submit assignments via email, attend lectures virtually by watching videos online, and communicate with other peers and the instructors via chat platforms or discussion boards designated for each class. Even though online learning may seem like an easier alternative to the traditional classroom learning, it requires a lot of dedication, motivation to succeed, and exemplary time management skills on the students’ end.