With so many different landscapes, ranging from big city metropolises to sparsely populated tropical nature reserves, Hawaii is an ideal place to earn a degree in fire science or a related field. The state employs nearly 2,000 firefighters and has 11 fire departments, which means there are plenty of potential career opportunities. In fact, the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) is the 16th largest fire department in the country, and is always on the lookout for qualified new recruits.
In addition to robust job opportunities, fire science professionals in Hawaii earn some of the highest salaries within the field. Below are annual salaries for firefighters and first-line supervisors in the state, according to May 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Hawaii Fire Service Careers
|Fire Service Supervisors||$26,140||$43,400||$57,890|
Fire training is recommended for all prospective firefighters and fire professionals in the state of Hawaii. Students can obtain an associate’s degree in fire science or a related field by completing the appropriate coursework at one of the state’s participating academies or community colleges. Honolulu Community College even offers distance education as well as on-the-job training and professional credit.
There are many specific specialties within the fire science field, such as Fire Protection Technician, Fire Protection Engineering, Fire Inspection, Arson Investigation, and Fire Investigation, just to name a few. The range of required college courses may include the following: Intro to Fire Safety Engineering, Fire Protection Engineering Basics, Fire Engineering I and II, Principles of Fire Inspection, and Wildland Firefighting. Classroom learning prepares students for challenges and procedures associated with fire and rescue.
Degree programs in fire science are offered through Hawaii’s community colleges. Students who are interested in pursuing a firefighter, or related career, in Hawaii, should explore the options available at the following colleges:
Honolulu Community College is renowned for its hands-on programs, including automotive and aircraft maintenance, marine education, and of course, fire science. The campus is part of the nationally ranked University of Hawaii System, and has been educating students for nearly a century. If you are interested in fire science, you will definitely want to explore the Fire and Environmental Emergency Response program that HCC has to offer.
Program Name: Fire & Environmental Emergency Response
Program Description: The Fire and Environmental Emergency Response Program provides professional training for students who want to develop the skills, knowledge, and strategies necessary for fire science employment at the city, state, or federal level. Honolulu Community College recognizes that jobs, families, and other commitments preclude some individuals from maintaining a traditional class schedule, which is why fire science students are offered a wealth of flexible learning opportunities, including distance education, evening and weekend classes, and accelerated course offerings.
The program requires students to complete 42.5 units of Fire and Environmental Emergency Response credits, along with the basic general education courses. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded an Associate in Science Degree. Certificates of Achievement are also available for students who complete Emergency Medical Response training.
The Big Island—or the Island of Hawai’i—boasts a population of 185,000, and is home to the iconic cities of Kona and Hilo. It’s also home to one of our nation’s most popular and comprehensive fire science programs, courtesy of the University of Hawaii – Hawaii Community College.
Program Name: Fire Science (FS)
Program Description: The Hawaii Community College Fire Science program provides students with the necessary preparation for a career in fire and emergency services, with an emphasis on Fire Prevention and Investigation, Crash and Rescue, Structural Fire Fighting, Wildland Fire Suppression, Incidental Command System, and Fire Management and Administration. Students who complete the program will earn an Associate in Science (A.S.) Degree. Graduates will have the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Administration from Colorado State University, as part its distance learning program.
Courses within the Fire Science program help students to meet the minimum academic training requirements of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Standard 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications. In addition, they equip students for modern fire service strategies, tactics, and management, both for structural and wildland fires.
Web-based programs offer tremendous flexibility to individuals who struggle to balance their educational priorities with family responsibilities, community service, and/or another job. Honolulu Community College and Hawaii Community College both offer distance learning opportunities within their Fire Science programs, which enable students to take convenient hybrid courses with the majority of coursework completed at home.
Although Honolulu Community College and Hawaii Community College are both part of the UH system, each campus has its own distance learning portal with its own course catalog. Online courses and programs vary from one semester to the next, therefore, it’s important to compare options at both colleges and register early.
Joining Hawaii’s grand fraternity of respected firefighters means that you will stand among the 1,880 firefighting heroes who make a difference and save lives every day. Firefighters in Hawaii earn an average of $53,030 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and there is always plenty of room for growth. Firefighters in the upper 25 percent salary range earn $60,380, and the upper tenth can potentially bring in even more, at $69,790. Based on those numbers, it quickly becomes apparent that the firefighting profession offers notable compensation and a highly rewarding way of life.