West Virginia is home to 405 fire stations employing approximately 1,000 fire service professionals across the state. A majority of the firefighters here not only fight, investigate, and prevent fires, they also perform duties of an emergency medical technician or paramedic to respond to critical conditions. Fire service personnel are found working in the state’s hospitals and professional ambulance companies as well.

The yearly earnings of West Virginia firefighters vary depending on experience, education, and location, to name a few. Here’s a quick glance at annual salaries for firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, and forest fire prevention professionals in the state at the entry, median, and advanced levels.

West Virginia Fire Service Careers 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Firefighters $20,590 $32,560 $47,310
Fire Inspectors and Investigators $26,780 $34,910 $51,810
Fire Service Supervisors $21,520 $36,590 $65,040


While it is not mandatory for students to have a college degree to become an entry-level firefighter, it is highly recommended these days, as the field is extremely competitive. New recruits will stand out from the pool of applicants trying to get similar jobs in the industry with a college education.

West Virginia colleges offer certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs in fire science. Students just out of high school and wanting to explore fire science will benefit from starting out pursuing either a certificate or associate degree in the field. The certificate usually takes around a year to complete, while the associate degree takes two years of full-time study to complete (students are required to also take elective and general education courses in addition to the usual fire science classes at this level). At both of these levels, students will be introduced to the core fundamentals of fire science, including fire chemistry, firefighting tactics and techniques, and fire investigation, to name a few.

Those looking to advance their career and eventually take on managerial or supervisory roles will benefit from earning a bachelor’s degree. At this level, students will also be exposed to the basics, but also get the opportunity to pick a specialization within the fire science field to focus on. Those who want to dedicate their career to the detective work aspect of firefighting, for example, may consider picking up a fire investigation specialization.


Before becoming a firefighter, it’s important for students to find the right college and program to suit their career goals. Narrow down your options with this list of West Virginia colleges and universities that offer fire science degree programs.


With technology becoming more pronounced in our lives, online education has become the norm for many students, especially those with busy schedules and personal obligations to attend to.

How does online learning work? In short, students are expected to watch lectures online (often in video format), and participate in class discussions with other peers and their instructors on the online classroom portal. Instructors can be easily reached via email for submitting assignments or asking questions for clarification on any topic covered in class. Since virtually everything takes place online, a reliable Internet connection is a must. Students with a drive to succeed, strong time management skills, and the ability to work well independently will thrive in an online learning environment.

General education and elective classes can be taken entirely online; however, some fire science classes may require students to meet in-person occasionally to complete hands-on projects designed to prepare students for firefighting. If not this, students may be encouraged to volunteer or intern for their local fire department to get a feel for what a day in the life of a firefighter looks like. Doing this will also allow students to network and “shadow” current firefighters and get an idea of what will be expected of them when it’s their turn to work.