Fire Science Degree Programs in South Carolina

South Carolina fire science trainees and professionals are tasked with protecting residents and land from fire damage and loss. Trained firefighters, fire investigators, and emergency responders can find employment at one of the state’s 455 fire stations or at volunteer departments, hospitals, and private ambulance companies. Traditional colleges and universities as well as trade schools and online colleges offer a range of certificate and degree programs to prepare those interested in a fire science or related career or to help those who are currently in the field move up to leadership positions.


Annual wages for South Carolina supervisors, firefighters, investigators, and inspectors are established by the state or local government, but can vary based on service area size, budget, experience, and certification. The following list indicates earnings for firefighters, inspectors/investigators, and supervisors within the state:


South Carolina Fire Service Careers
10th Percentile
50th Percentile
90th Percentile
Firefighters
$20,010 $31,270 $47,140
Fire Inspectors and Investigators
$24,650 $35,570 $56,440
Fire Service Supervisors
$22,010 $37,380 $58,560

Fire Science Training Options in South Carolina

For many years, fire science training was offered through on-the-job training. Firefighters began with basic tasks in the firehouse, gradually working their way up to fighting fires. They might have earned a few certificates along the way, but formal education was often seen as unnecessary. But with advances and technological innovations in firefighting and emergency services, formal education is now considered an important part of entering the fire service.

Most students choose to begin with basic certificates, such as their EMT or CPR certification, and move up from there. The associate degree in fire science can either prepare students to seek work or get them ready for the bachelor’s degree program. Many who pursue the bachelor’s degree choose to specialize in areas like public service, administration, fire technology and the like. From there, the master’s degree offers students even more opportunity to gain the knowledge necessary to move into leadership positions.

Knowledge is very important, but what about skills? Colleges and universities often work closely with firehouses and emergency services facilities to help students get the hands-on training they need. Once the degree is completed, the training continues – those in fire services never stop learning, training and preparing for the next emergency that will come their way.

Programs for Fire Science in South Carolina

South Carolina offers opportunities for students to receive fire science degrees or certificates at colleges such as the following:

SCHOOL
TYPE OF DEGREE
DEGREE LEVEL STATE SCHOOL NAME PROGRAM NAME
Associate South Carolina Greenville Technical College Fire Science / Fire-fighting
Award (<1 year) South Carolina Greenville Technical College Fire Science / Fire-fighting

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEWS

  • Dale Johnston Division Chief/Fire Marshal Mount Pleasant, SC
    What's the best piece of advice you can give a future firefighter (or fire investigator, inspector, etc.) in your city or state?

    Stay in school and get your degree. Join a volunteer fire department for free training and experience while you are in college.

    What educational path would you recommend for firefighters or other fire service professionals in your city or state who wish to advance their careers?

    Start off with a two-year degree in fire science and move over to business management for your master’s degree.

    What makes firefighting and the fire services unique in your city or state? Please be as specific as you can.

    Wow good question. Weather a big one for us. We have summer storms with lighting strikes.

In addition, online colleges may have campuses in South Carolina might offer fire science degrees.

Spotlight: Horry-Georgetown Technical College

Program Name: Fire Science

Program Description: Horry-Georgetown Technical College offers a range of options for fire science studies, including certificates and degree programs. One academic path is an Associate in Applied Science in General Technology, specializing in fire science. This fire science technology program is available to current firefighters who have completed training through the Firefighter II level at the South Carolina Fire Academy or other approved National Fire Academy programs.

For those planning on more advanced education, there is a fire science transfer program offering an associate degree to use toward bachelor's degree studies. An agreement with Coastal Carolina University allows these students to transfer to the interdisciplinary studies baccalaureate program or other university programs. Also relevant for firefighters and first responders are Horry-Georgetown Technical College's associate degree in emergency medical technology and the certificate for paramedics. Other options of interest include an associate degree in either forestry management technology or timber harvesting.

For further information on Horry-Georgetown Technical College, see: http://www.hgtc.edu/academics/academic_programs/Public_Service_Tech/Fire_Science_Techology.html

Spotlight: Greenville Technical College

Program Name: Associate Degree in Fire Technology

Program Description: Designed for those who have little or no experience with real-world fires, this degree can help students understand the technology of fire. It is structured to allow students to take courses online, as well as on-campus. The program is an introduction to working in the fire sciences, including the dynamics of fire, firefighting techniques, fire investigations and codes, rescue, emergency response, hazardous materials, safety and salvage, and so on. This hybrid course can be convenient for those who needs hands-on training but don’t have the time to take all the courses in a traditional classroom.

To learn more, start here: http://www.gvltec.edu/fire_science/

Online Options for Fire Science Programs

Fire science programs were once offered only in fire stations and brick-and-mortar schools. But with online technology, students can take fire science programs entirely online, or choose a hybrid educational experience. For example, Greenville Technical College has web-based or on-campus delivery options for its associate degree in fire technology.

Distance learning can allow South Carolina students to continue juggling family and community obligations, the demands of a full-time job, volunteer work, and other integral parts of their lives while they work toward a degree on their own time and at their own pace. Many fire science programs are hybrids, meaning that students must earn some hands-on educational time, but they can also take courses online. This is especially true for programs designed to provide students with firefighting training as well as the knowledge they need for fire investigation, administration and the like.

In some cases, students can make use of “life credits” or “experience credits” to help them complete the degree. For instance, a student who has worked as a firefighter for several years can use that experience to fulfill the ‘hands on’ requirement of the degree, and thus might be able to take the remaining courses in an online format. Whether students choose online education, a traditional classroom setting or a combination of both, ensuring the school or program is accredited is an important part of the college search.