Despite the small size of Rhode Island, the state is home to 76 fire stations employing approximately 1,620 firefighters and 610 emergency medical technicians and paramedics. These fire science professionals are responsible for protecting residents, land, and property of the state by fighting and preventing fires, investigating blazes, and providing medical response as needed.

EMTs and paramedics in Rhode Island make more than the nation’s average when it comes to annual salary. However, salaries for other fire science related careers may vary depending on location, type of department, education, and experience, to name a few. The chart below provides a quick glance at average yearly earnings of firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, and fire service supervisors in Rhode Island at the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles.

Rhode IslandĀ Fire Service Careers 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Firefighters $18,500 $51,210 $61,030
Fire Inspectors and Investigators $42,310 $55,080 $72,490
Fire Service Supervisors $29,340 $52,610 $96,860


Formal education in fire science can be obtained through two colleges in Rhode Island. Students looking to earn an associate’s (2-year) degree can attend either the Community College of Rhode Island or Providence College, while those looking to pursue a bachelor’s (4-year) degree will benefit from studying at Providence College.

All entry-level firefighters are expected to be certified EMTs. Students who still need to complete this step can earn a certificate through a certificate program offered at a fire science institution. Once you become certified, you can continue your education either with an associate or bachelor’s degree. Both levels will expose students to the core fundamentals of fire science, but the bachelor’s level will delve in deeper on each topic and often times allow students to pick a specialization that they’d like to focus their education and career on in the fire science realm. For example, students can choose to specialize in fire prevention, investigation, or protection, to name a few.

Not only is formal education important to a firefighter’s success, extensive training is imperative because the profession itself is very hands-on. Not only will students be trained on the field to perform real-life duties of firefighters, they will also have to pass a physical exam to prove that they are fit and suitable for the high demands of the job.


Since Rhode Island is a relatively small state, it has fewer institutions that offer a fire science education compared to a bigger state in the U.S. Rhode Island is home to two colleges that offer fire science programs:


While students used to only learn fire science in the traditional classroom settings, more and more are taking advantage of online learning programs that many colleges now offer. Rhode Island students can take fire science classes from virtually anywhere with a reliable Internet connection. Online programs come fully online or hybrid. Hybrid classes are preferred for fire science studies, as the industry requires hands-on experience that one may not get from just learning everything entirely online. Classes that can be taken entirely online are general education or elective classes that don’t require any hands-on experience.

Distance learning is a great option for busy students or current working professionals looking to advance their career and pursue higher education while attending to their everyday obligations, whether it be family matters or work, for example. Students can work at their own pace and set a study schedule that works best for them. They will be expected to virtually attend lectures by watching videos, completing assigned readings, and projects assigned by the professor. Additionally, classroom discussions with peers may take place on an online discussion board that count toward participation points.