Fire Science Degree Programs in Arkansas | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 5, 2020
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects approximately average growth for firefighters on the national level, estimating a 5% national increase in firefighting occupations between 2018 and 2028. Arkansas should experience a much sharper job growth for firefighters, however, with Projections Central projecting a 10.9% increase between 2016 and 2026. In a state where wilderness and municipalities collide, wildfire suppression and disaster response are becoming increasingly important.
Firefighter requirements in Arkansas vary by location, but individuals interested in pursuing careers in firefighting can expect to encounter some similar benchmarks regarding testing, physical fitness, age, and education. This page details common expectations and variations in firefighter requirements in Arkansas, plus information on firefighter courses in Arkansas, resources for firefighters, job growth potential, and salary data. Read on for more information on how to become a firefighter in Arkansas.
Firefighter requirements in Arkansas differ by local jurisdiction. Towns, cities, and counties typically oversee eligibility requirements for age, education, exams, and certifications. Prospective firefighters should research requirements for the location where they plan to seek employment.
Many jurisdictions require applicants to be at least 18 years old, as is the case in Fort Smith and Springdale. Little Rock and Jonesboro, however, require firefighters to be 21 before they can serve. Little Rock also sets an age cap, requiring firefighters to be under 34 at the time of their written exam. Most towns require firefighters to hold a high school diploma or GED.
Springdale prefers its firefighters to hold emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, while Fort Smith requires the credential after the first year of employment. Bentonville requires the credential upon application. Some cities mandate additional testing, administered either by the department itself or, as Fayetteville requires, through the National Testing Network (NTN).
Firefighters usually need to demonstrate physical fitness by passing an examination like the NTC's candidate physical abilities test (CPAT) for firefighters. Some fire departments require CPAT scores, while others run their own physical fitness tests.
Becoming a Firefighter in Arkansas: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Arkansas?
Firefighter training in Arkansas depends on the city or town. Many fire departments require firefighters to undergo physical fitness training, for example, and some prefer candidates who have completed a certain level of education.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Many fire departments require firefighters to complete EMT training. Some require EMT certification before application, as Bentonville does. Springdale, on the other hand, prefers, but does not require, EMT certification.
What is the test like for firefighters in Arkansas?
In addition to the CPAT, many departments require a written examination. In Fayetteville, firefighters must pass the NTN's Fire TEAM test, which includes components in human relations, mechanical aptitude, reading, and math.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters must maintain good physical fitness, and applicants often must pass a fitness test to qualify. The CPAT is a national exam required by some departments, and it consists of exercises like stair climb, hose drag, and equipment carry.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Forestry Division fights wildfires in Arkansas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also employs firefighters to fight wildfires throughout the country.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Arkansas?
It depends on the local requirements. EMT training can take anywhere from three months to four years, depending on whether it pairs with a degree or other certifications. Some fire departments impose looser requirements.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Arkansas
Arkansas offers a variety of degree programs for firefighters hoping to obtain an associate degree or certificate either before entering the field or after gaining employment. Firefighter requirements in Arkansas differ by location, so prospective firefighters should check the requirements for their particular area before committing to a program.
Some schools in Arkansas offer individual trainings or certificates in addition to associate degrees. Students can often roll their certificates into associate or bachelor's degrees. These programs represent a good starting place for firefighters in Arkansas seeking training opportunities.
Designed for firefighters and emergency responders, SAU Tech's 60-credit associate degree in fire and emergency response prepares students to administer emergency medical care and handle hazardous materials. Course requirements include fire service tactics, hazardous materials operations, building construction, and fire service rescue.
NWACC's 60-credit associate degree in fire science administration and technology prepares students for roles as entry-level firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and hazardous materials responders, along with leadership positions in the field. Courses include firefighter health and safety, fire service special operation, emergency medical technician, and general education requirements.
Designed to prepare entry-level firefighters for National Fire Protection Association levels I and II certification, BRTC's 60-credit associate degree in fire science requires courses in hazardous materials for firefighters, fire prevention, fire protection systems, exterior fires, and fire arson detection.
Fire Science Colleges in Arkansas
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Arkansas
According to the BLS, Arkansas employed 2,410 firefighters across the state in 2018. Projections Central projects Arizona's demand for firefighters to increase by more than double the national average from 2016-2026, so that number should increase significantly over the next decade.
Arkansas does not experience the high rate of wildfires present in some other areas of the country, but the state handles 1,000 wildfires on average each year. Because of the close proximity of towns and wilderness, wildfires represent a significant threat to state residents. As wildfires grow in size on average, Arkansas may look to employ more firefighters in the coming years.
Firefighters in Arkansas earn an annual mean income of $37,800 and an hourly wage of $18. Firefighter salaries in Arkansas outstrip neighboring states of Louisiana and Mississippi by about $7,000.
Like most professionals, firefighters can join organizations offering benefits such as training, insurance, scholarships, and camaraderie. Community service plays an important role in the firefighter occupation, whose unions work with legislators to advocate for safe working conditions and adequate health benefits.
Fire departments operate independently, but they often work together on state-wide emergencies or advocacy issues, for which reason the Division of Emergency Management offers liaison support. Many firefighters seek certifications to add to their skill sets through Southern Arkansas University Tech's Arkansas Fire Training Academy.