Earning An Associate Degree In Fire Science
Overview: The Associate Degree
Generally, the associate degree program is comprised of sixty semester hours and takes approximately two years of full-time study to complete. Associate degree programs are available at community colleges, online institutions, and fire schools. In addition to gaining a solid foundation of fire science on a fundamental level, students are expected to also complete elective and general education coursework in order to graduate. To break it down, approximately a third of the program is dedicated to general education classes, elective studies, and major field courses, each.
Associate Degree in Fire Science
At the associate level, students studying fire science will get a well-rounded introduction to studies in topics such as fire suppression, fire prevention, arson investigation, fire engineering, code inspection, and departmental leadership, to name a few.
Benefits of an Associate Degree in Fire Science
Nowadays, it never hurts to have postsecondary education when applying for jobs. With the fire science field becoming more and more competitive each year, employers are really on a lookout for dedicated applicants who take their careers seriously and are driven to grow in the long term. Specifically, they want to see that students have completed a postsecondary program and emergency medical technician (basic) certifications. Those seeking specialized roles such as fire inspector and investigators will have to have either an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science, preferably with a specialization in chemistry or engineering.
By pursuing an associate degree, it shows that you have promise and persistence, and can complete two years worth of coursework at a higher level beyond high school. If you’re looking to eventually take on leadership or supervisory roles within the fire department, having an associate degree is a good start, and you may consider transferring these college credits over to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree, for example. If you are considering attending a four-year college in the long run, it is smart to consult a student advisor to ensure that all classes you take at the associate level will move over to an accredited four-year school.
Fire Science Associate Degree: Coursework Breakdown
Are you wondering what coursework you’ll be expected to take to earn an associate degree in fire science? Typically, a two-year associate degree program in the field will enlighten students in fundamental principles in fire causes, fire behavior, emergency tactics, fire suppression, wildland firefighting, and organizational structure on relatively basic levels.
Additionally, students will be expected to take elective and general education courses in a variety of subjects such as chemistry, communications, computer science, and psychology, to name a few.
Let’s take a closer look at specific courses and what each entail at the associate level:
- Basics of Fire Prevention
- Get a comprehensive overview of everything related to fire safety. Some topics include code enforcement, design oversight, occupant and building trade education, and inspections.
- Introduction to Emergency Services
- Familiarize yourself with the common set of regulations, skills, and emergency services terminology in the fire department.
- Fire Behaviors & Combustion
- Learn about what causes fires to start, how they react to elements like chemicals, temperatures, fuels, and materials.
- Protection & Suppression Systems
- Discover the uses and types of water spray systems used to suppress fires.
- Water & Hydraulic Principles
- Explore the challenges, methods, and strategies behind using water supply systems.
- Building Codes & Construction
- Get insight on code compliance, materials that affect fire protection, building design, and combustion and suppression.
- Firefighting Tactics & Strategies
- Learn the most effective ways to defeat a fire depending on what type it is, and in what type of environmental condition it’s in.
Online Learning: Associate Degree in Fire Science
Many colleges these days are recognizing the value of distance learning because students’ lifestyles are changing and technology just keeps getting better over the years. Online degree programs have allowed students more flexibility and in turn, they are able to juggle their work, family, and personal obligations while pursuing their fire science associate degree behind their own computer screen.
Online fire science degree programs allow students who cannot meet on-campus to get a quality education in the field. For example, those with full-time jobs may find it difficult to set aside time for classes they need to complete in order to earn their associate degree. The flexibility and convenience that comes with web-based learning makes it a great way for students to learn at their own pace, and in their own time. Online students can virtually learn from anywhere in the world! This becomes a great advantage for those living in remote areas of the country. Going to school has never been easier — students can now just log in from the comfort of their own homes and access lectures, training videos, class resources, and more — all online, 24 hours a day.
In addition to wholly online courses, hybrid style classes are also options for students. These classes combine both online and hands-on learning. Hands-on learning gives to-be firefighters the chance to apply what they’ve learned from lectures and the textbooks to make sure they are completely well-versed with the field. Students taking hybrid classes are expected to meet occasionally in a training facility to practice equipment training, fire scene investigations, and emergency medical procedures, to name a few.
The Importance of Accreditation
Accreditation is an important factor to consider when researching colleges, for several reasons. For one, it ensures that you are getting the bang for your buck in terms of quality education. Accredited schools are reviewed extensively by independent agencies to ensure that the colleges and class materials are up-to-date and of high quality. By attending a college that meets or exceeds training standards for fire science education, potential employers are sure to recognize your degree after graduation.
If you are thinking of eventually continuing education in the future to promote to a higher role in the field, you will also want to think ahead about the possibility of transferring college credits earned from pursuing your associate degree. Generally, these credits can only be transferred between accredited colleges. By earning an associate degree in a non-accredited college, you may not be able to get credit for completed courses and may have to retake them at the next level.