Fire Science Degree Programs in Colorado | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Demand for firefighters in Colorado is growing quickly. Though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 5% growth rate in firefighting positions across the country between 2018 and 2028, Projections Central more than doubles that figure in Colorado, estimating a growth of 13% between 2016 and 2026. With the increasing threat of wildfires in Colorado, firefighting has become more crucial than ever.
According to the BLS, Colorado also ranks among the top-paying states for firefighters, paying an annual mean wage of $61,160.
Firefighter requirements in Colorado vary depending on location. Review this page to learn more about how to become a firefighter in Colorado, including potential testing requirements for municipal and wildfire fighting, firefighter courses and academic programs in Colorado, resources for firefighters in Colorado, and in-depth information on salary and job growth potential.
Firefighter requirements in Colorado depend on the regulations set by each particular city, county, or state agency. Many fire departments, like Thornton and Colorado Springs, require firefighters to hold a high school diploma or GED. Poudre, however, prefers candidates to have earned some college credits.
Testing requirements vary by town, as well. Generally, firefighters must demonstrate physical fitness. Many jurisdictions in Colorado, including Colorado Springs and Denver, require candidates to pass the National Testing Network's (NTN) candidate physical abilities test (CPAT). NTN also offers FireTEAM, a test comprising human relations, mechanical, reading, and math questions. Denver and Colorado Springs require the FireTEAM exam, while Thornton requires firefighters to test through the Colorado FIREfighter Testing Consortium.
Many areas -- including Poudre, Thornton, and Colorado Springs -- expect firefighters to undergo emergency medical technician (EMT) training.
Firefighters looking to fight wildfires in Colorado must first obtain sponsorship from a local fire department, fire protection district, or county. Candidates must pass two wildfire training courses to obtain an interagency incident qualification card, at which point the sponsor can list the firefighter as available to fight wildfires in Colorado.
Becoming a Firefighter in Colorado: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Colorado?
It depends on the location. Denver offers an eight-week course to prepare applicants for the physical and written firefighting tests. The Colorado State Forest Service requires prospective wildfire-fighters to pass two specific courses.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Many departments require applicants to hold EMT certification before they can qualify as firefighters. Colorado does not grant reciprocity to emergency medical services credentials that were granted in other states; candidates must hold national certification.
What is the test like for firefighters in Colorado?
Many departments require physical fitness tests, a written test, and in some cases, an oral exam. The NTN's FireTEAM exam, required in Denver and Colorado Springs, tests candidates on mechanical knowledge, reading, and math.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters need to demonstrate good physical fitness to qualify. Many departments require firefighters to take the NTN'S CPAT examination or something similar, in which they must complete physical challenges like hose drag and rescue scenarios.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Colorado?
Firefighters who wish to fight wildfires in Colorado must obtain sponsorship from a local fire protection district and earn an interagency incident qualification card by completing two courses: the national wildfire coordinating group basic firefighter course and introduction to fire behavior.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Colorado?
Many departments require only a high school diploma or GED in addition to EMT training. EMT training can take several weeks, or longer if paired with a degree program. Denver offers an 8-week training program for firefighters.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Colorado
Some academic programs provide a foundation for firefighting, EMT, and other preferred or required certifications, satisfying firefighter requirements in Colorado. Many programs also offer test preparation courses, including training for commonly required physical examinations. By pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree, candidates prepare for entry-level positions and position themselves for career advancement and leadership in the field.
The list below illustrates a few examples of firefighter courses in Colorado. Since requirements differ by local jurisdiction, prospective students should research regulations for their desired location before selecting a program.
RRCC's 60-credit associate degree in fire science technology prepares students for careers as firefighters through general education and major courses in firefighter I, principles of emergency service, principles/emergency service, occupational health and safety, and principles of code enforcement. The program takes a flexible approach, allowing firefighters who are already working to substitute basic courses with advanced ones.
Designed to prepare experienced firefighters and first responders for leadership positions in the field, CSU's 120-credit bachelor's degree in fire and emergency services administration requires courses in fire service leadership, trends in fire science technologies, and integrated management simulations, plus suggested electives in policy and public administration, incident command systems, and economics in public finance.
Designed for entry-level and in-service firefighters seeking career advancement, Aims's 67-credit associate degree in fire science technology requires courses in EMT fundamentals, firefighter I, HAZMAT operations, vehicle extrication awareness, fire hydraulics and water supply, and physical test preparation. Students can also work hands-on through an internship, completing the program in two years.
Fire Science Colleges in Colorado
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Colorado
With 5,560 firefighters employed in 2018, the BLS ranks Colorado in the second-highest category in the country for firefighter employment, and in the highest category for salary. As of May 2018, firefighters in Colorado earned an annual mean wage of $61,160, with an hourly mean wage of $30, eclipsing neighboring states by as much as $24,570. The Southwest Colorado Nonmetropolitan Region is the fourth highest-paying non-metropolitan district in the country, with an annual mean wage of $54,940.
Colorado needs firefighters. The BLS projects only a slight rise in demand for firefighters across the country between 2018 and 2028, but Projections Central estimates a much higher occupational growth rate for firefighters in Colorado specifically. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, Colorado saw 1,328 wildfires in 2018; the Insurance Information Institute ranks Colorado third in the country for risk of wildfires.
In Colorado, firefighters can take advantage of many resources, both professional and state-run. Professional resources, including unions and firefighting associations, provide support for firefighters in the form of training, advocacy, and camaraderie. Because firefighters from various locales often work together in emergency situations, this support makes a difference.
Additionally, firefighters may wish to keep an eye on wildfire threats and conditions, and they may offer continuing education regarding the prevention of wildfires. State-run organizations coordinate wildfire suppression efforts, provide training, and educate the public about wildfire prevention.