Fire Science Degree Programs in Georgia | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 6, 2020
The eighth-most populous state in the nation, Georgia employed 11,280 firefighters as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This places the state in the nation's top bracket for firefighter employment. Georgia's metropolitan area of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell is the eighth-highest metropolitan employer of firefighters in the nation, with 5,890 firefighters working there in May 2018.
Firefighter employment in Georgia is slated to grow at a rapid pace. While the BLS estimates demand for firefighters to increase across the country by 5% between 2018 and 2028, Projections Central projects Georgia's numbers will grow by 11.3% from 2016 to 2026.
On this page, readers can find information on how to become a firefighter in Georgia, with topics covering firefighter requirements in Georgia, frequently asked questions, academic programs, job growth and salary statistics, and a list of resources for firefighters in Georgia.
The Georgia Fire Standards and Training Council (GFSTC) oversees firefighter requirements in Georgia. Many departments implement additional requirements, but all Georgia firefighters must take a basic training course through either the Georgia Fire Academy or an approved local provider.
To qualify for the course, applicants must be at least 18, hold a high school diploma or GED, and pass the GFSTC's physical agility test. Candidates must complete CPR certification before beginning the eight-week basic firefighting training course. Students must take two online courses as a part of their training: national incident management system 100 and 700, offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Graduates may opt to take the GFSTC's firefighter I skills test, which local departments may or may not require.
Local departments oversee their own hiring processes, and some provide training for firefighter recruits. For example, in addition to state certification, Johns Creek, GA, requires a written examination, an oral panel interview, a background check, and a polygraph. Clayton County also requires a polygraph and written exam, and it provides training for qualified applicants.
Atlanta requires candidates to pass the National Testing Network's (NTN) candidate physical abilities test (CPAT) for firefighters, which includes challenges such as stair climb, hose drag, and search and rescue.
Becoming a Firefighter in Georgia: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Georgia?
Georgia requires certified firefighters to take the GFSTC's eight-week basic firefighting training course or a local equivalent. Candidates must also take two online courses through FEMA and obtain CPR certification.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Requirements vary, but most fire departments in Georgia require the GFSTC firefighting certification. Many do not require EMT certification in addition, though applicants should always check requirements for their local jurisdiction.
What is the test like for firefighters in Georgia?
The GFSTC firefighter I skills test requires candidates to demonstrate knowledge of proper equipment usage and requirements like primary search, escaping a hazardous area, and other hands-on skills.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters must demonstrate physical fitness. Training is a strenuous process, and many departments require applicants to complete additional testing, such as the CPAT or other physical agility tests.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Georgia?
The Georgia Forestry Commission oversees the training of wildland firefighters in Georgia, providing training for GFSTC-certified municipal firefighters, state agency employees, and affiliates.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Georgia?
Firefighters in Georgia must take the GFSTC's eight-week basic training course, including two online FEMA courses, unless their local department offers similar education to new recruits.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Georgia
In Georgia, firefighters can choose from a variety of educational paths. In addition to, or along with, GFSTC training, candidates may seek education in the form of certificate programs, associate degrees, or bachelor's degrees, setting themselves up for career advancement and leadership in the field. No degree can guarantee a particular position, but emergency services personnel pursuing higher education may qualify for positions in public management and emergency services.
Prospective firefighters should research local department expectations before choosing which educational program best fits their personal career goals.
Working in cooperation with the GFSTC, ATC offers a two-semester certificate program leading to firefighter I certification. The 15-credit program requires courses in emergency service fundamentals, basic firefighter, and hazardous materials operations. Applicants must be at least 18 and obtain a high school diploma or GED prior to graduation from the program.
Ideal for students interested in careers as firefighters, emergency services workers, and public management, EGSC's 124-credit bachelor's program requires 60 credits of major-area courses in community risk reduction, fire prevention organization and management, ethics in public service, managerial issues in hazardous materials, and national disaster management.
Designed to accommodate both new and experienced firefighters, Albany Tech's 62-credit associate degree requires courses in introduction to computers, introduction to fire service, firefighting strategy and tactics, fire prevention and inspection, hazardous material operations, and fire service hydraulics, plus general education courses in composition, social behavior, math, and humanities.
Fire Science Colleges in Georgia
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Georgia
BLS data shows that Georgia employed 11,280 firefighters as of May 2018. The state boasts the eighth-highest population in the country, with more than 10.6 million residents in 2019, explaining its large force of firefighters.
Georgia firefighters earn mid-range salaries when compared to the rest of the country, bringing home an annual mean wage of $38,060 in 2018 and a mean hourly wage of $18. These salaries are similar for firefighters in Georgia's neighboring states of Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina.
Firefighters benefit from resources such as memberships with professional organizations and advocacy groups that promote firefighters' interests to legislators and connect them with their communities. Professional organizations also offer insurance, professional development, scholarships, and networking opportunities.
Since Georgia's state government is directly involved in firefighter certification and testing, the state offers a variety of training and test preparation resources for its firefighters. The list below illustrates a few of the resources available for firefighters in Georgia, including state support, training centers, and wildfire alerts through the Forestry Commission.