Filled with metropolitan areas and rural towns, Tennessee has a high demand for skilled firefighters to protect residents, property, and land from fire loss and damage. In fact, over 5,400 firefighters work for the state in fire stations, agencies, and volunteer departments.

In order to become a successful firefighter in Tennessee, one must undergo extensive training and education. Prospective firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics can earn their certificate or degree at one of many community colleges, online training programs, or fire academies available in the state.

The annual wages for Tennessee firefighters vary greatly depending on experience, education, and location. Here’s a quick glance at yearly salaries for firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, and fire service supervisors in the state at the entry, median, and advanced levels.

Tennessee Fire Service Careers 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Firefighters $22,230 $37,190 $55,800
Fire Inspectors and Investigators $32,090 $50,690 $67,060
Fire Service Supervisors $22,900 $41,030 $67,730


Aspiring firefighters in Tennessee can either pursue their training and education at a community college or at a fire academy. Here’s a look at each option:

Community Colleges

High school graduates wanting to start a career in fire science can begin by attending community college and working toward an associate degree in the field. This degree generally takes two years of full-time study to complete, and will not only involve coursework in fire science, but also general education classes like math, history, and English, designed to provide students with strong reasoning and communication skills in the workforce. Fire science-related topics covered at the associate level may include history of fire science, fire chemistry, and firefighting tactics, to name a few. Many at the associate level will consider volunteering or interning for their local fire department to gain hands-on experience in firefighting while taking their required classes.

Fire Academies

Unlike other states in the country, Tennessee is home to several fire academies from which students in the state can obtain their required training. For example, the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy is fully equipped with classrooms, fire labs, and fire stations. Here, students learn about public safety, fire codes, and medical care in the fire science realm, and are able to put their new knowledge into practice through hands-on training. Since the nature of firefighting requires a person to be physically fit and strong, students may also be required to work out and meet intense physical requirements.


Tennessee is home to a handful of colleges and fire academies that offer fire science degree programs. Browse through our list of Tennessee institutions offering fire science programs to find your perfect fit:


Online education is an ideal way for working professionals in Tennessee to further their knowledge or brush up on current skills outside of working hours.

Tennessee fire science students have the option of enrolling in online courses, enabling them the flexibility and convenience of taking a class online at schedules that work best for them. Students are expected to communicate with their professors via email, chat programs, or Skype when needed, and to participate in online classroom discussions via an online portal. To turn in assignments, students generally email their professors at a designated time, or submit via online portal.

While most learning will take place online, it is important to keep in mind that students may be required to meet on-site to complete in-person projects or tasks to complete a class. These projects are designed to give students a taste of the “hands-on” work they may be required to be familiar with as a firefighter.