Associate Degree in Fire Protection Technology
Explore the curriculum and requirements of associate's degree programs in fire protection technology. Learn about the employment and continuing education option for graduates.
Firefighters, fire code inspectors and fire investigators protect lives and property through their understanding of fire prevention and control. Prospective or active firefighters who have earned a high school diploma or GED can enroll in an associate-level fire protection technology degree program, typically awarded as an Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Technical Studies. These degree programs provide training in fire prevention and protection methods, with an emphasis on analytical thinking, decision-making and technical knowledge of building construction, flammable materials and fire detection systems.
Students learn communication and leadership skills, which they can apply in their practical training in firefighting methods and emergency response. Some degree programs also include internships or cooperative work arrangements with local fire departments to give students real-world training and experience in firefighting and associated duties.
An associate program in fire protection technology focuses on the practical knowledge and skills needed to effectively and safely prevent, fight and investigate fires. Courses in chemistry, math, computer science and writing support the concepts and skills learned in discipline-specific courses. A common fire protection technology curriculum may consist of the following courses:
- Hazardous materials
- Firefighting strategies
- Fire detection and inspection
- Fire codes
- Fire protection law
- OSHA standards
- Fire service administration
Popular Career Options
Although official training requirements vary from one municipality to the next, the knowledge base and practical skills taught in fire protection programs can pave the way for a variety of careers in firefighting or fire prevention, protection and inspection. Fire protection professionals can find careers in government agencies, private corporations and transportation facilities. Some possible career options in this field include:
- Municipal firefighter
- Fire safety inspector
- Fire prevention specialist
- Fire investigator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Firefighter job growth from 2012-2022 is expected to be slow at seven percent, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). Median earnings for firefighters were $45,250 in May 2012. Fire inspector and investigator job growth is also expected to be slow at six percent over the 2012-2022 decade. Median earnings for these inspectors and investigators in May 2012 were $53,990.
Continuing Education Information
According to the BLS, advancement in the fire protection and prevention fields is often dependent upon seniority, advanced training and continuing education. Fire departments typically require prospective firefighters to undertake academy training. Nearly all fire departments require recruits to obtain emergency medical technician training and certification ranging from EMT-Basic to paramedic, the BLS said.
If a firefighter wishes to take on roles of greater responsibility and enhance his or her knowledge, a bachelor's degree in fire protection or a similar field may be a suitable option. Topics covered can include industrial fire safety, elements of building construction and design, community fire prevention and fire services administration. Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers voluntary professional certifications in fire protection and inspection for industry professionals who wish to demonstrate their competence, as measured by nationally recognized standards (www.nfpa.org).
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