Fire science is the study of fire combustion and behavior, strategies for combating fire, fire prevention and protection systems, fire safety codes, and firefighting. Professionals in fire science and emergency services keep people safe from natural fires and arson.
An associate degree in fire science provides you with foundational knowledge about what causes fires and how fires behave in various conditions. Students gain the skills necessary to prevent fires and manage emergency situations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for firefighters and fire inspectors are projected to increase by 5% and 6%, respectively, from 2014 to 2024.
What are the best fire science programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Hutchinson Community College||Hutchinson, KS|
|2||Keiser University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|3||Casper College||Casper, WY|
|4||Lanier Technical College||Oakwood, GA|
|5||Volunteer State Community College||Gallatin, TN|
|6||Kansas City Kansas Community College||Kansas City, KS|
|7||Central New Mexico Community College||Albuquerque, NM|
|8||Hillsborough Community College||Tampa, FL|
|9||Southern Arkansas University Tech||Camden, AR|
|10||West Georgia Technical College||Waco, GA|
What Else can I Expect From an Online Associate in Fire Science Program?
Curricula for online fire science associate degree programs vary by school and concentration. Generally, these programs require 60 credit hours, comprising general education, major, and elective courses. Distance learners can complete most programs in two years.
WHAT WILL I LEARN IN A FIRE SCIENCE PROGRAM?
Although specific course requirements vary by program, below are three common major requirements in online fire science associate degree programs.
- Fire behavior and combustion: This course reviews the physical and chemical properties of fire, the scientific process of fire burning, and the components of water as a fire suppressant. Students learn how fires ignite and burn so they may better strategize to prevent and extinguish them.
- Introduction to fire prevention: Students explore fire safety inspection procedures, the history and philosophy of fire prevention, and standard practices for fire safety education and preparation.
- Principles of fire and emergency services: This course introduces students to the structure of fire and emergency service organizations, including the components involved in preventing and responding to fire and emergency situations.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO GET MY ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN FIRE SCIENCE?
Generally, earning an associate degree in fire science online requires 60 hours of coursework completed over two years. However, studying part-time can delay completion time, whereas taking more than the average course load can shorten the time required.
Transferring credits from other schools can also expedite program completion. By transferring previous college coursework or dual enrollment credits, students may begin major requirement classes much sooner and complete their online fire science associate degree quickly.
Some schools offer cohort-based programs, while others allow you to go at your own pace. In cohort programs, students who are admitted in the same year take courses together, where they build relationships and learn from one another. Individually paced programs allow for flexible start and end dates.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREES IN FIRE SCIENCE?
Hutchinson Community College
|Hutchinson, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
HutchCC offers more than 160 undergraduate programs and over 250 courses online. Students can pursue an associate degree or professional certification in nearly 20 unique areas of study, including an online associate in fire science.
HutchCC's 61-credit fire science program includes courses like emergency medical technician, fundamentals of fire prevention, and fireground operations. Students choose additional electives from topics like math, social sciences, and communications. HutchCC also offers fire science certification, academy training, and a fire officer program.
HutchCC supports distance learners through academic advising, tutoring, personal counseling, and career services. The college accepts applications on a rolling basis.
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Keiser operates 21 campuses in Florida along with a comprehensive online division. Students can choose from more than 100 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs, including an online associate in fire science in which graduates reported a 100% job placement rate for three consecutive years as of 2018.
Keiser's associate in fire science requires 60 credits of fire suppression, extinguishment, and crisis management coursework. In addition to major coursework, the curriculum includes electives in fields like communications, natural science, and the humanities. The program awards a terminal degree for fire science professionals.
Keiser accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers monthly start dates for online programs. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Distance learners can access library, technology, and career development resources through Keiser's Department of Student Services.
|Casper, WY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
As Wyoming's first college for women, Casper College offers more than 20 online programs. The college also offers dozens of hybrid programs that blend online and on-campus coursework. The Casper College Fire Association sponsors the college's certificate and associate programs in fire science.
Casper's associate in fire science requires 60 credits in general education and major coursework. Students must complete an internship in the field, which may include shadowing a firefighter on a 24-hour shift to experience "a day in the life." Graduates are prepared for entry-level fire department positions.
Most students complete Casper's online AAS in fire science in two years. First-time freshmen must complete a three-hour online orientation module before beginning coursework online. Casper admits students at the start of each fall, spring, and summer semester.
Lanier Technical College
|Oakwood, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
LTC serves over 5,000 students, more than 51% of whom enroll in online programs or courses. The college offers nearly 30 degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Graduates of LTR reported a 100% job placement rate as of 2017.
LTC's fire science technology degree requires 62 credits in general education and program-specific core coursework. The curriculum also incorporates electives in areas like social and behavioral sciences, language arts/communications, and the humanities/fine arts. Students must meet with program advisors each term to select courses.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Prospective students must also submit ACT, ACCUPLACER, ASSET, COMPASS, or SAT scores. LTC charges all students the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency.
Volunteer State Community College
|Gallatin, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Vol State serves more than 11,000 students across four campuses and an online division. Students may choose from more than 100 undergraduate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in five major study areas, including more than 30 online programs.
VSCC's associate in fire science is a natural next step for students who completed a technical certificate in fire science technology. The AAS in fire science requires 60-61 credits in topics like fire prevention, fire protection services, and principles of emergency services. The curriculum also includes a computer literacy requirement.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Vol State's resources for distance learners include academic tutoring and advising, virtual library tools, and veterans and military student services.
Kansas City Kansas Community College
|Kansas City, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
As Kansas's third-largest two-year college, KCKCC serves nearly 10,000 students. The college offers more than 100 degrees and certificates through three physical locations and an online campus.
KCKCC's AAS in fire science/fire fighting includes general education and major coursework, preparing graduates for Kansas state firefighter certification tests. The 66-credit program uses a hybrid delivery method, requiring some "academy-style" on-site firefighter training courses. The curriculum also includes a freshman seminar orientation requirement.
Students in the program pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. KCKCC offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The college's distance learners benefit from resources like library, advising, and technology support services.
Central New Mexico Community College
|Albuquerque, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
With an enrollment of more than 22,000 students, CNM is New Mexico's largest two-year school. CNM operates nine locations across Albuquerque and Rio Rancho and a distance learning department. The college's students may choose from more than 200 associate degrees, certificates, and training programs.
CNM's AAS in fire science follows the curriculur model of the National Fire Academy. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credits, culminating in a fire science capstone course. The program prepares graduates to sit for qualifying fire services, wildlife, and emergency medical technician certification exams.
Students may enroll in full- or part-time courses online. CNM offers start dates during each semester. All applicants must demonstrate strong physical and mental fitness and undergo a criminal history screening.
Hillsborough Community College
|Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
HCC encompasses five major campus locations and an online division, serving nearly 46,000 students as one of Florida's largest two-year schools. HCC offers more than 180 associate degrees and certificates, including more than 15 online and hybrid programs.
HCC offers its AS in fire science technology as a law, public safety, and security program. The curriculum includes 60 credits over four semesters, or two years. Coursework explores topics like fire prevention and investigation, firefighting tactics and strategy, and codes and standards. HCC rotates online fire science technology courses once each year.
Students who graduate with an associate in fire science automatically earn admission into the bachelor's program in fire science management at Northwood University. HCC admits students in any semester; however, each cohort must enroll a minimum of 10 registered students to proceed.
Southern Arkansas University Tech
|Camden, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Among the top two-year colleges in Arkansas, SAU Tech serves more than 1,800 students on campus and online. SAU Tech offers nearly 20 industrial and specialized career training programs, including 12 online degrees and certificates.
SAU offers an AS in fire science management and an AAS in fire and emergency response, both available online. Both degrees require 60 credits and prepare graduates to transfer to a bachelor's degree at Arkansas State University or one of three other regional partner universities. The programs also award certificates in fire science management and fire and emergency response.
Applicants must submit official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students must also be employed by the local fire department or volunteer fire department.
West Georgia Technical College
|Waco, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
A member of Georgia's technical college system, WGTC serves a seven-county area and enrolls more than 9,500 students on campus and online. As of 2017, roughly 47.2% of WGTC students took at least one course online.
WGTC's associate in fire science technology requires 62 credits in a five-part sequence of general education courses. The curriculum includes occupational coursework in subjects like fire administration supervision and leadership, fire service safety and loss control, and fire protection systems. WGTC also offers a fire science technology diploma.
WGTC requires prospective students to submit official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Students in the program pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency.
What Can I Do With an Associate Degree in Fire Science?
While firefighters generally have a high school diploma and emergency medical services certification, those who have earned an associate degree in fire science online are prime candidates for higher positions in fire and emergency services organizations. For instance, fire inspectors generally have firefighting experience and postsecondary education, and many departments prefer candidates for fire chief and captain positions to have a relevant associate or bachelor's degree. Below are three jobs that often require an associate degree or higher.
- Fire inspector
Fire inspectors ensure that buildings and other facilities are up to code and adhere to fire safety regulations. This job requires strong communication skills. Fire inspectors travel to conduct inspections in various facilities and may develop and present fire safety education programs.
- Fire chief
A fire chief handles the administrative aspects of fire prevention, safety, employee training, and emergency response procedures. While they also perform firefighting and rescue operations, these tasks are secondary to management responsibilities.
A fire captain manages a crew of firefighters, training new firefighters, inspecting and ordering equipment, and occasionally engaging in firefighting and rescue operations.
Higher level positions often require higher levels of education. For positions like fire chief, candidates with a bachelor's degree are typically preferred. These positions also come with higher salaries; fire inspectors make about $50,000 per year, while fire chiefs earn up to $122,000 per year. Below are three bachelor's degree programs applicable to the fire science and emergency services field.
- Emergency medical services
A degree in emergency medical services prepares graduates to work in emergency medicine or perform related managerial duties. The program covers topics like EMS administration, disaster management and event planning, and EMS legal issues.
- Fire administration
A fire administration program prepares students to think tactically about fire prevention, safety, and emergency response. The curriculum focuses on community risk reduction, the structure of fire safety organizations, the implementation of fire safety plans and education, and how fire behavior affects emergency response situations.
- Forensic science
A forensic science program introduces students to the analysis of forensic evidence and crime scene investigation. Combined with a fire science degree, this degree is useful for the investigation of arson crimes.
Employment Outlook for Associate in Fire Science Graduates
On average, salaries for fire science professionals increase by about $10,000 over 20 years of work, with greater growth potential for positions with managerial or administrative duties. For example, salaries of emergency management specialists usually increase about $20,000 over 20 years.
Fire Science and Emergency Management Positions by Experience
In both entry-level and managerial positions, an employee's experience affects annual earnings. The table below illustrates salary growth as professionals gain experience in the field.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Police, fire, or ambulance dispatcher||$34,000||$32,000||$37,000||$47,000|
|Emergency management specialist||$53,995||$48,000||$57,000||$73,000|
Professional organizations provide opportunities to network with other professionals in the field, participate in national disaster relief efforts, obtain training and certificates, and discover new careers. Information about fire behavior and the best fire prevention and investigation techniques is being constantly updated. Professional organizations help members stay up to date with changes in the field. Below are three professional organizations in fire science and emergency management.
Financing Your Online Associate in Fire Science Program
Financing and funding opportunities for fire science students include scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study programs. Fire science scholarships are often available from professional organizations, educational institutions, and charity organizations. Ask if your professional organization or school offers scholarships for fire science students, and complete the FAFSA to see if you qualify for federal aid.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.