Fire Science Degree Programs in Florida | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Prospective firefighters in Florida can expect to find a wealth of job opportunities in the state, those opportunities should only increase in the coming years. Already, Florida employs the third-highest number of firefighters in the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 22,690 firefighters worked there as of May of 2018, a number exceeded only by California and Texas.
Across the country, demand for firefighters is set to increase by about 5% between 2018 and 2028. In Florida, Projections Central expects a much greater need, projecting occupations for firefighters to grow by 13.6% between 2016 and 2026. On this page, readers can learn more about how to become a firefighter in Florida. The following sections cover firefighter requirements in Florida, frequently asked questions, information on courses and academic programs, and in-depth statistics on salary and job growth potential for Florida firefighters.
Specific firefighter requirements in Florida vary depending on the regulating body in each town or county, but because Florida offers statewide certification for firefighting, many fire departments require entry-level firefighters to obtain this certification. Florida's firefighter candidates must pass the firefighter minimum standards course or equivalent training from another state. Experienced volunteer firefighters may advance more quickly through the training.
Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Clearwater, and Miami all require firefighters to hold Florida firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. Testing requirements vary among cities. In Miami, applicants must pass written and audio screening tests, plus the National Testing Network's (NTN) Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT) for firefighters.
Orlando requires a medical exam, as does Fort Lauderdale, where candidates must also complete written and oral examinations. Clearwater requires candidates to pass the NTN's FireTEAM exam, which tests applicants on mechanical, reading, and math questions.
The Florida Forest Service oversees minimum certification for wildland firefighters, requiring applicants to take their courses in introduction to incident command system, basic wildland firefighting, and introduction to wildland fire behavior or Florida fire behavior training. Firefighters may take additional courses to qualify as engine leaders and strike team leaders.
Becoming a Firefighter in Florida: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Florida?
Certified firefighters in Florida must pass an approved firefighters minimum standards course. While course content varies, candidates can expect to need to demonstrate understanding of fire behavior, building construction, search and rescue, and water supply.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Yes, most fire departments in Florida require firefighters to hold Florida EMT and firefighting certifications.
What is the test like for firefighters in Florida?
Testing varies. Some locations, like Clearwater, require candidates to take the TNT's FireTEAM test, which comprises mechanical, reading, and math sections. Miami requires its own audio/written screening test, the CPAT exam, a stress test, and a psychological examination.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
While testing varies, firefighters in Florida should maintain good physical condition. Some departments require applicants to pass the NTN's CPAT exam, while others run their own medical and physical examinations.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Florida?
The Florida Forest Service trains firefighters through courses in introduction to incident command system, basic wildland firefighting, and introduction to wildland fire behavior or Florida fire behavior training. Engine leaders and strike team leaders must complete additional coursework.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Florida?
Certified firefighters in Florida must pass a minimum standards course, which comprises about 418 contact hours in a classroom. Course timelines may vary, depending on the source. Many locations require firefighters to hold EMT certification, as well, which can take three months to four years to complete, depending on how each candidate pursues certification.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Florida
Prospective firefighters in Florida can choose from a variety of academic programs to prepare for careers in emergency services. Some students may participate in vocational certificate programs for firefighting or EMT designations. For others, an associate or bachelor's degree program may allow for further specialization, preparing learners for leadership roles in the field.
Because requirements differ by location, students should research the city or town where they wish to work and understand its regulations before enrolling in an academic program. The list below offers a few examples of firefighter courses in Florida.
Designed for students pursuing entry-level firefighter and EMT positions, SPC's vocational program requires 698 contact hours of coursework, with core courses comprising basic firefighter I, basic firefighter II, and emergency medical technician training leading to postsecondary paramedic adult vocational certificate.
Offering specializations in fire management, emergency medical services management, and emergency management, UF's 120-credit bachelor's degree requires courses in fire and emergency services financial management, communication and information technology, ethical practices and leadership, disaster planning and control, and strategic planning for fire and emergency services.
With specializations in fire officer or fire prevention, full-time students can complete Valencia's 60-credit associate degree in 2-3 years, while part-time learners may take up to four. In addition to 15 general education credits, the program requires courses in fire science fundamentals, fire prevention, fire behavior and combustion, private fire protection systems, and fire-fighting tactics and strategy.
Fire Science Colleges in Florida
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Florida
According to the BLS, Florida employed 22,690 firefighters as of May 2018, trailing only California and Texas for total number of firefighters. Since Florida also ranks as the third-most populated state in the nation, it stands to reason that the number of firefighters would match.
Florida firefighter salaries fall in the second-highest category in the country, outstripping the state's southern neighbors with an annual mean wage of $53,340 and an hourly wage of $25. In metropolitan areas like Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, the annual mean wage reached $69,690 as of May 2018.
Firefighters in Florida can take advantage of many resources available to them in the state, including labor unions that assist in negotiations and advocate for protective legislation. Firefighter associations provide camaraderie, often promoting community service, annual conventions, and training opportunities. A fire chief's association underscores leadership in firefighting, while other organizations work to promote health and safety.
To stay current on fire-fighting conditions in the state, firefighters may also look to the Florida Forest Service for updates and tools for wildland firefighting and opportunities for in-state and out-of-state emergency deployment.