Idaho leads the nation in forest service land, with nearly two-thirds of the state under the jurisdiction of the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. This picturesque state is home to some of the country’s most breathtaking green landscapes, but with so much forestry, Idaho is also prone to wildfires and, therefore, needs highly skilled fire service employees to combat and prevent fire loss and destruction.
In Idaho, fire inspectors and investigators tend to earn higher salaries than firefighters and first-line supervisors. Below are annual wages for fire service careers at the entry, median and advanced levels:
|Idaho Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$41,290||$64,020||$76,610|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$25,790||$42,360||$60,200|
Idaho seeks the most qualified candidates to become fire professionals, and that means you will need to pass a series of assessments, as well as checks on your background, physical health, and psychological condition. Even if you pass with flying colors, your work is far from over. In order to successfully advance in an Idaho fire science career, you must complete basic fire and rescue coursework at an accredited technical college with a fire technology program. Depending on your preferred branch of fire science, you may need a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree. Graduate degrees are recommended for more advanced careers, like research and government contracting.
Fire science is a broad category which encompasses a wealth of essential subjects, including:
Your required coursework will cover a range of important concepts related to fire and emergency response training. Your courses may include Fire Protection Technician I and II, Chemistry for Arson Investigation, Wildland Firefighting Basics and Fire Inspection for Beginners. By developing a cursory understanding of multiple related fields and practices, you will be better equipped to handle real-world emergency situations. The only question now is where to obtain this invaluable education.
Idaho currently offers comprehensive fire science programs at five of its accredited colleges. Three of these colleges can be found in the south, while University of Idaho is located in the north, and the College of Western Idaho has seven locations. Consider pursuing your education at one of the following institutions:
I would suggest you obtain your degree—it is necessary for the future of the fire service. I also believe that your continued education will provide you additional opportunities that can't even be thought of today. Enjoy the journey, smiles go miles and don't take yourself to seriously.
I would suggest a college or community college that specializes in training firefighters or a college or university where hands-on learning is what they are known for.
We have challenges that many other combination fire departments experience. I would say retention will continue to be a challenge for us. I also believe as leaders we must do everything possible to ensure safety is the forefront in everyone's minds and actions at all times while serving. One thing that does stand out in the great state of Idaho is the wide variety of outdoor activities available throughout the year. If you like the outdoors you'll love what Idaho has to offer.
The College of Southern Idaho proclaims itself to be one of the fastest growing educational institutions in the state. The campus offers associate degrees in more than 100 unique disciplines, including Fire Science. And with a student body of 7,000, you’ll have no trouble making valuable social connections.
Program Name: Fire Service Technology
Program Description: The College of Southern Idaho Fire Service Technology program is divided into 35 basic courses and 5 advanced courses, covering such critical topics as Safety, First Aid, Forcible Entry, Hose Techniques and Ladder Techniques. The program not only covers local fire procedures, but also national fire services.
In order to be eligible for the Fire Service Technology program, you must be affiliated with a local fire department. If you are unable to gain employment due to a lack of experience or education, you can obtain your eligibility as a volunteer firefighter. The hands-on experience will help to prepare you for the concepts and procedures that you will study in the classroom.
The University of Idaho has been educating students since 1889. The Princeton Review consistently recognizes University of Idaho as one of the Best Public Colleges in America, as well as one of the Best Values in Public Colleges and one of the Top 286 Green Colleges. Like the College of Southern Idaho, it is an excellent place to pursue a fire science education.
Program Name: Fire Ecology and Management
Program Description: Fire Ecology and Management is part of the university’s Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Services. It’s the most comprehensive fire safety program in the state, and it is an ideal option for anyone interested in Idaho fire careers.
The program features over 50 professional courses, covering a broad range of topics for every prospective fire career, including Ecology, Fire Behavior, Forest Operations, and Conservation Biology. With the completion of necessary coursework, you can earn your B.A. in Fire Ecology and Management.
Online distance learning has changed the game for many college students. No longer must your college prospects be thwarted by a day job or family obligations. You can study in your own time, from wherever you choose, and obtain your degree without the need for a traditional class schedule.
For instance, University of Idaho offers a Fire Ecology Certificate as part of its Masters of Natural Resources (MNR) online program. Additionally, schools like College of Western Idaho and Idaho State University offer fire and EMS programs through the Ed2Go online portal. Ed2Go is a nationwide online learning facility with real instructors and full academic coursework, which partners with various colleges across the nation to provide convenient distance learning options to students.
When you choose a firefighting career in Idaho, you will join the proud ranks of the more than 1,900 firefighters and 40 fire investigators located throughout the state. Firefighting professionals in Idaho typically earn close to $34,260 a year on average, and these numbers are on the rise. The highest quarter of firefighting professionals in the state typically receive $46,140 a year, while the highest tenth receive close to $57,580. The salary for an Idaho fire investigators or inspectors is higher still, averaging close to $53,000. The highest quarter of fire investigators receive $64,280, while the highest tenth receive close to $72,760.
While a promising salary provides a great incentive, the real reward is the career itself. When you become a fire professional, you don’t just assume a vocation. You become instrumental in the saving of lives, whether you’re in the field or just working to make Idaho safer. Start your education today, and see what it means to have a career that truly makes a difference.