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I am interested in becoming a firefighter, is that something I would need to go to college for? If so, what classes should I take in college and what school in MN should I attend?

I have applied to community college to major in fire science, is that a good choice I made?

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Jean’s Answer

Hey Sammie!

I love your question mainly because it reminds me of my nephew, Aaron, who did become (and is currently) a paramedic/firefighter, which I am still so proud of him for!!!

Aaron, didn't go to college but he did take A LOT of certification courses, via the community college and some private companies. He volunteered, spoke to firefighters/EMTs, etc. He started out as an EMT, working for a private ambulatory service.

After about two years, as an EMT, he applied to become a paramedic/firefighter for the city where he lives. He was accepted into the city's program and completed a (rigorous) 20 week training program and became a full-time paramedic/firefighter thereafter.

He's been a paramedic/firefighter for almost two years and he L-O-V-E-S it. He has saved lives, fought fires, and you can tell he found what he loves. He's recently taken it a step further and has become a member of a SWAT team, which leverages the skills he has accumulated over time.

Looks like you've received some great advice from other people responding to your question - do your research and decide what path is good for you.

Best of luck!
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Ryan’s Answer

Hello Sammie. I'm glad to hear you're still interested in both firefighting and furthering your education. Just so you know, very few fire departments require you to have a degree to become a firefighter. Those that do aren't usually too picky about what your degree is in, they just want to see that you had the drive and commitment to follow through and earn a degree regardless of what it was in.

My best advice is to get a degree in what you find interesting, not what you think someone else wants you to have. When you're writing a term paper at 2am, it better be something you care about or you're going to fall asleep! If you're not sure what you're interested in, that's fine. A degree in Fire Science is a great place to start. You usually get credit for things you have to do anyway, like a firefighter academy and EMT class. Plus, you know 100% of it will be applicable to firefighting.

Downsides to a fire science degree are 1) it's only really applicable to a career in firefighting, so if you change your mind your degree might not be worth much to other employers and 2) it's a little bland - if you want to stand-out compared to other applicants for firefighting jobs and promotions, you might want something more unique. There are actually many specialties within firefighting, and if you know for sure you're interested in one of those, you can certainly start studying it now.

General Firefighting: Fire Science, Emergency Management, Homeland Security, etc.
Wildland Firefighting: Forestry, Ecology, Natural Resource Management, etc.
Fire Management & Supervision: Business, Government, Politics, Leadership (if I go back to school it'll be for a degree in Business or Public Administration!)
Emergency Medicine: Pre-Med, Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, Sports Medicine, Counseling, etc.
Hazardous Materials: Chemistry, Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Safety and Health, etc.
Fire Investigations: Chemistry, Criminal justice, Sociology, Pre-Law, Paralegal, Technical Writing, etc.

Also, don't forget about the trades. Firefighters respond to a lot of house fires, gas leaks, and car wrecks. If you're the person on your shift that knows the most about building construction, plumbing, EVAC, electrical, automotive technology, etc. you'll be a big asset and your supervisor will love you!

Ryan recommends the following next steps:

If you haven't already, talking to a career counselor or other person from the community college's fire science department may be able to answer a lot of your questions, including what local departments are looking for in new applicants and what local schools would be good to continue your education after community college.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. All of this information will be super helpful for me in the future! I appreciate your advice. Sammie
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Nirvana’s Answer

In the majority of regions, it's essential for firefighters to possess a minimum of a High School diploma or a GED. In certain locations, the number of applicants exceeds the available positions. Therefore, having a degree in fire science could give you an edge and make you stand out among other candidates.
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