The Fire Science Online Methodology

FSO provides fire science students and professionals with information about every nuance of an education in fire science. We strive to be as effective in this goal as possible, and realize that our service can only be as good as our source data. As such, we only use tried-and-true data from some of the most trusted, government-backed sources available.

We receive a high volume of requests for the graphics used on our site. To accommodate these requests more efficiently, we have included the badge shown on all of our lists, here:

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Our Data Sources

Fire Science Online generally uses four primary sources of data, which are:

  • NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education. It provides consistent, reliable, complete, and accurate indicators of education status and trends.
  • IPEDS is the primary federal source for data on colleges, universities, and technical and vocational postsecondary schools in the U.S.
  • Carnegie Classification is a framework widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences, and also in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students, or faculty.
  • is a leading provider of career-related data on a national, state, local, and individual basis. PayScale’s team of statisticians continually refines data collection methods to maximize accuracy and integrity.

However, for this list we also used data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS is a federal agency tasked with gathering and analyzing a massive amount of a data about the economic state of the country. Their data, which is broken down by career type and region, is the most current source of salary information for today’s firefighters.

Methodology for the Fire Science Degree Programs that Really Pay Off

Identifying the fire science programs that offered students the highest return on their investment was a two-step process. First, average annual salaries, organized by state, were pulled for all applicable BLS occupation designations. These figures were averaged again to produce a single average annual salary for each state.

Then, using the salary information from BLS, we crafted our list using these criteria:

  • Annual tuition less than $10,000
  • Average annual salary greater than $50,000
  • Must have at least 35 active students enrolled
  • Various fire science programs reviewed
  • Fully-accredited schools only
  • Public and private schools included
  • U.S. colleges only