Fire Science Degree Programs in Arizona | Firefighter Training

Written by Kathleen Swed
Last Updated: Feb 5, 2020

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for firefighters is on the rise across the country, with a 5% growth projected for the occupation between 2018 and 2028. In Arizona, which employs the fourth-most rural firefighters in the nation, Projections Central projects a 6.8% rise between 2016 and 2026.

Arizona's dry climate creates seasonal wildfires, which both rural and municipal firefighters mobilize to contain. With a wealth of natural resources and cities and towns to protect, firefighting in Arizona is a crucial occupation. Firefighter requirements in Arizona vary by location. Read on for more Arizona-specific information on how to become a firefighter, fire science programs, resources for firefighters, and what to expect for firefighter salary and job growth potential.

Firefighter Requirements in Arizona

The specific firefighter requirements in Arizona depend largely on the city, county, or other local jurisdiction. Many cities -- including Mesa, Surprise, and Tucson -- require Arizona firefighters to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Sedona prefers applicants to hold a community-college certificate or associate degree in fire science. Phoenix, however, merely requires prospective firefighters to be 18 years old before beginning the application process.

Certification requirements also vary by location. Mesa and Surprise require applicants to hold emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, while Sedona requires Arizona state EMT, Pro Board Firefighter I and II, and hazardous materials certification. In Tucson, prospective candidates enter the city's firefighter academy for training and testing. Tucson's firefighter academy takes 20-22 weeks to complete, comprising classroom work, examination prep, and physical fitness training. Phoenix also administers its own written examinations.

Most fire departments require applicants to demonstrate physical fitness, but the nature of their testing may differ. Still, Sedona, Mesa, Surprise, Phoenix, and Tucson all require firefighters to pass the National Testing Network's candidate physical abilities test (CPAT).

Becoming a Firefighter in Arizona: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for Arizona?

    Specific training depends on jurisdiction. Some towns require firefighter, EMT, or hazardous materials training. Others prefer candidates to hold a community college certificate or associate degree. Some cities provide their own training.

  • Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?

    Many towns require firefighters to hold EMT certification, though some allow firefighters to obtain it after completing local training. Certain locations require hazardous materials and firefighter certification.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in Arizona?

    Exams vary by location. In Phoenix, the written exam includes reading comprehension and math, plus information from the city's fire recruit study guide. The CPAT requires prospective firefighters to complete a stair climb, a hose drag, forcible entry, and other physical challenges.

  • What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?

    Firefighters must demonstrate high levels of physical fitness. Many towns in Arizona require firefighters to pass the CPAT for firefighters, a physically demanding examination, before they can qualify for employment.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in Arizona?

    The Department of Forestry and Fire Management employs its own firefighters to fight wildfires in Arizona. It also dispatches municipal departments.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in Arizona?

    It depends on the specific requirements. In Tucson, firefighters train for 20-22 months through the city's firefighting academy. Other locations require only that firefighters complete EMT certification, which can take 3-6 months, or up to four years for those pairing it with a bachelor's degree.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in Arizona

Firefighter schools in Arizona offer a variety of opportunities for individuals seeking careers as firefighters. Some students may wish to obtain an associate degree in fire science, expanding their course options through general education requirements while training for specialized careers in hazardous materials, building inspection, and other areas.

Prospective students should research requirements for the particular jurisdiction where they wish to serve before selecting a program, since details vary depending on the location. The list below illustrates a small selection of firefighting programs in Arizona.

Arizona Western College

Program Name Associate in Applied Science: Fire Science
Program Description AWC's 64-credit associate degree in fire science prepares students for careers in firefighting, building inspection, hazardous materials, and rescue. Courses include principles of emergency services, fundamentals of fire prevention, and building construction; fire academy credits; and 22 credits of general education.

Central Arizona College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Technology
Program Description Designed for students who already hold EMT or paramedic certification, CAC's 65-credit associate degree in fire science technology prepares learners to investigate fires, operate equipment, understand hydraulic formulas, and summarize tactical operations. Courses include fundamentals of fire prevention, wildland fire, and firefighter tactics and strategy.

Eastern Arizona College

Program Name Fire Science Level II Certificate
Program Description Designed for students seeking firefighting careers in rural areas, EAC's 24-credit fire science level-II certificate program admits both new and in-service firefighters. Courses include basic wildland firefighting, first aid and CPR, fire department operations, fire apparatus and equipment, and fundamentals of fire prevention. This program offers students an opportunity to practice with current fire-suppressing technology through hands-on fieldwork.

Fire Science Colleges in Arizona

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Arizona

According to the BLS, Arizona employed 6,380 firefighters in May 2018, making the state the fourth-largest employer of firefighters among nonmetropolitan areas in the country. Considering the state's dry climate and the ongoing and increasing challenge of wildfires on a larger scale, Arizona may see an increase in its need for firefighters over the coming decade.

Firefighters in Arizona earned an annual mean wage of $45,150 in 2018, with an hourly wage of $22. The annual mean wage in nonmetropolitan areas reached $33,700, with an hourly wage of $16.

National Average Salaries for Firefighters

0-12 Months

Entry Level

1-4 Years

Early Career

5-9 Years


10-19 Years



Source: PayScale

Firefighter Resources in Arizona

In Arizona, firefighters benefit from online resources and organizations. Unions and professional organizations advocate for firefighters through legislative pathways, encouraging elected officials to understand issues like safety regulations. They also offer support and training, and they guide firefighters through the details of pension plans and insurance. These organizations often run conferences and events for firefighters throughout the state.

Firefighters in Arizona can also stay up to date with current conditions in the state by following wildfire predictions and preparation instructions through the Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

The following list offers a selection of resources for firefighters in Arizona.

Department of Forestry and Fire Management

In addition to employing firefighters to suppress wildfires, Arizona's Department of Forestry and Fire Management provides training, wildfire prediction services, and a firefighter relief and pension fund.

Professional Firefighters of Arizona

With a membership composed of professional firefighters, the PFFAZ hosts an annual conference and an annual legislative conference to educate elected officials on issues affecting Arizona firefighters.

Arizona Fire Chiefs Association

The AFCA supports firefighter leadership in Arizona and provides resources for its members. Resources include training sessions, job postings, a wildfire deployment plan, and an annual leadership conference and expo.

International Association of Firefighters

The IAFF provides support and advocacy to firefighters on an international level, offering its members access to education and training, job postings, grant assistance, and pension plan resources.

Arizona Bureau of Land Management

The Arizona Bureau of Land Management collaborates with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Department of Defense to protect the state's natural resources from wildfires.