Fire Fighter Certificate and Fire Fighting Certification Programs
There are numerous certificate programs available to current or prospective fire fighters, depending on their experience level and specialty area. The information below describes certificate programs available to entry-level municipal fire fighters. Read on to learn how these programs can help graduates meet state fire fighter certification requirements.
Aspiring municipal fire fighters can complete two different levels of training through fire fighter I and fire fighter II certificate programs. These programs are usually offered at community colleges with fire training academies.
Students learn to perform such tasks as attaching hydrants to high-pressure hose lines and using extension ladders. They also receive classroom instruction in identifying and handling hazardous materials, such as flammables and explosives. Training programs may require students to undergo physical conditioning as well. Upon completing a fire fighter I or fire fighter II training program, students are prepared to take their state fire fighter certification examinations.
Applicants to fire fighter I and II certificate programs must also hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Additionally, some schools require students to complete a series of self-study prerequisite courses on the National Incident Management System.
To advance to fire fighter II programs, students usually complete fire fighter I certificate programs. However, some schools may accept applicants provided they've completed an introductory fire science course or are affiliated with a fire department.
Students in fire fighter certificate programs are given both hands-on and classroom instruction. In addition to coursework, they may learn to operate emergency vehicles or participate in live fire training. Common course topics can include:
- Fire systems
- Fire technology
- Hazardous materials
- Fire apparatus management
- Fire prevention
- Fire chemistry
- Fire fighter safety
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for fire fighters were projected to increase 19% from 2008-2018. This was due to the increasing populations of metropolitan areas. The need to replace volunteer positions was also expected to drive demand. The mean annual wage for these first responders was $47,730 as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov).
Certification and Continuing Education Information
According to the BLS, a high school diploma is often sufficient for entry into the fire fighting profession, provided applicants can pass written and practical exams. However, in some states, these exams are part of a mandatory certification process for basic or entry-level positions. In addition to earning passing exam scores, aspiring fire fighters typically need to complete state-approved fire fighter I and fire fighter II training programs. Other states may offer voluntary certification.
Fire fighter certificate program graduates looking for continuing education options might want to consider earning an associate degree in fire science or a related field. In some cases, credits earned in a certificate program may be applied toward one of these 2-year degrees. According to the BLS, earning this degree may improve an applicant's employment prospects.
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