South Dakota is home to 282 fire departments employing around 500 firefighters and 900 EMTs and paramedics. Aspiring firefighters can begin their career to protect residents, land, and property from fire loss and damage by pursuing a fire science certificate or degree. Not only do firefighters in South Dakota work in rural and urban settings, they are also found working in hospital settings and private ambulance agencies.

Annual salaries for South Dakota firefighters vary depending on a variety of factors, including education, location of employment, and experience levels. Take a look at the chart below to get a general idea of the average yearly earnings for firefighters and fire service supervisors in the state at the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles.

South Dakota Fire Service Careers 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Firefighters $26,360 $39,170 $57,230
Fire Service Supervisors $33,290 $47,220 $65,050


Students can obtain mandatory fire science training at their local fire training academy, or explore programs available at community colleges nearby. Coursework at community colleges generally take two years of full-time study to complete, and covers the fundamentals of fire science including fire safety, fire chemistry, firefighting techniques and tactics, and hazardous materials handling, to name a few. Students will also take general education and elective courses like math, history, and English, all of which are designed to develop strong reasoning and communication skills. Fire science programs often have a technical portion to it, where students are expected to receive hands-on training in fire labs.

In addition to training in fire labs, students are highly encouraged to volunteer or intern at their local fire department to gain hands-on experience and network with working professionals in the field. Not only will students get the chance to put what they’ve learned from the books into practice, they’ll also get a better idea of what a day in the life of a firefighter looks like.

While South Dakota does not have any universities that offer a bachelor’s degree program and above, the associate degree will prepare students for higher learning if they choose to continue. Students in the state can consider out-of-state colleges that offer online degree programs in fire science, if they want to go beyond the associate level.


Students in South Dakota can either complete a 2-year program at a community college or a 4-year program at an accredited university. See the list of 2-year colleges offering fire science programs in the state:


South Dakotans who prefer a flexible schedule for learning can consider taking convenient distance learning programs in fire science. Keeping in mind that fire science is a field that requires hands-on and lab experience, students will still be expected to participate in projects in a classroom setting occasionally to conduct lab experiments and gain hands-on experience in the firefighting field. However, most of the learning will take place online.

Some online coursework students will have to take include the core basic subjects, including math, English, and fire science classes. These classes are generally entirely online, and do not require students to meet on campus to complete any tasks in person. Students will be expected to participate in online class discussions, communicate with their professors via Skype or e-mail, and submit assignments on the web when due.

Aspiring firefighters can choose online programs in the entry, medium, and advanced levels available at community colleges (2-year program) or four-year colleges and universities (4-year+ program), depending on their career goals.