Fire Science Degree Programs in indiana | Firefighter Training

Written by Kathleen Swed
Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020

Across the nation, demand for firefighters is on the rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the national demand for firefighters to grow on pace with other occupations between 2018 and 2028, increasing by 5%. Indiana enjoys a slightly higher outlook, with Projections Central estimating an 8% growth rate between 2016 and 2026.

Firefighter requirements in Indiana are set largely at the state level by the Department of Homeland Security's Board of Firefighting Personnel Standards and Education (BFPSE). All firefighters must undergo rigorous training before they can respond to emergency situations.

This page provides details on firefighter requirements in Indiana and some of the variations among local jurisdictions, plus information on academic programs for firefighters in Indiana, job outlook and salary data in the state, and resources for firefighters in Indiana.

Firefighter Requirements in Indiana

Indiana's BFPSE determines and oversees firefighter requirements in Indiana. To respond to emergencies in Indiana, firefighters must complete mandatory training covering topics including personal safety and apparatus familiarization, fire behavior, rescue and extraction, horse loads, fire steams, forcible entries, and hazardous materials operations.

Typically, successful applicants to local fire departments undergo this state-mandated training when accepted as recruits. In Indianapolis, the training takes 25 weeks. In South Bend, the academy lasts 21 weeks.

Although Indiana mandates strong standards, specific firefighter requirements vary by local jurisdiction. For example, applicants in Indianapolis must be 21 years old, while South Bend accepts applicants at 18. Both Indianapolis and South Bend cap applicant ages at 36.

Testing also varies among departments. Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and South Bend all require applicants to pass the National Testing Network's (NTN) Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT) for firefighters, a multi-part test consisting of stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, forcible entry, and ladder raise and extension. Fort Wayne also conducts acrophobia and claustrophobia tests. Most departments also require panel interviews and background checks, plus a written test that may include reading, math, and mechanical questions.

Becoming a Firefighter in Indiana: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for Indiana?

    Indiana's BFPSE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, requires firefighters to train in state-mandated curriculum covering topics in personal safety and apparatus familiarization, fire behavior, rescue and extraction, horse loads, fire steams, forcible entries, and hazardous materials operations.

  • Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?

    Some emergency medical services training is included as a part of fire-academy participation. South Bend's fire academy graduates leave the program with EMT certification, plus HAZMAT awareness.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in Indiana?

    To qualify for fire academy entrance, most departments require a written test. In Indianapolis, the test covers math, reading comprehension, memorization, and problem-solving. Most towns also require an oral interview.

  • What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?

    Firefighters should be in good physical condition. Most departments do not admit recruits to their fire academies unless applicants pass the NTN's CPAT examination, demonstrating physical strength and fitness through challenges like stair climbs and equipment carry.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in Indiana?

    The Indiana Department of Natural Resources trains and manages wildland firefighters in Indiana through its volunteer firefighting service.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in Indiana?

    If accepted as recruits, prospective firefighters in Indiana must proceed through their department's fire academy.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in Indiana

Indiana features a variety of academic programs in fire science. Firefighters seeking to update their skills might seek out a certificate program. Those seeking career advancement or a transition to another sector of public service, like homeland security, might choose an associate or bachelor's degree. Some academic programs provide state-mandated training, which firefighters must complete before they can respond to emergencies.

Though Indiana dictates statewide requirements for firefighters, standards still vary among cities. Prospective students should study expectations for the location in which they wish to work before enrolling in a degree program.

Ivy Tech Community College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science
Program Description Designed for entry-level students and experienced workers seeking career advancement opportunities, ITCC's 61.5-credit program takes four semesters to complete, or longer for students who need more flexibility. The associate degree requires major courses in introduction to public safety, computers apps in public safety, risk management, hazmat operations, and fire protection systems, plus general education requirements.

Vincennes University

Program Name Associate of Science in Fire Science and Safety Technology
Program Description VU's program prepares students for entry-level positions in the field, offering testing opportunities and certification in state-mandated areas. In addition to general education, course requirements include emergency medical technician, introduction to the fire service, firefighting strategy and tactics, and fire department administration. This associate degree feeds into VU's bachelor of science in homeland security.

Vincennes University

Program Name Fire Science and Safety Certificate
Program Description Ideal for in-service firefighters seeking to increase their skill levels, VU's 27-credit certificate program follows two semesters of courses in topics such as fire equipment and hydraulics, fire cause and determination, and firefighting strategy and tactics. Courses in this certificate program can count toward the associate of science in fire science and safety technology.

Fire Science Colleges in Indiana

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Indiana

The BLS reports that Indiana employed 7,430 firefighters as of May 2018, placing the state on the bottom edge of the top category for number of firefighters in the country. This category covers an employment range of 7,430-32,910, so it's useful to note that Indiana employed 2.44 firefighters per 1,000 residents. This places Indiana (and 24 other states) firmly in the middle zone for firefighter employment rates.

Firefighters in Indiana made an annual mean wage of $49,460, or an hourly wage of $24, in May 2018. This places Indiana in the second-highest category for firefighter salaries in the nation, keeping pace with its bordering states of Ohio and Michigan, though falling below average firefighter salaries in its western neighbor Illinois.

The BLS estimates that the national demand for firefighters will grow at a similar rate as all occupations on average, increasing by about 5% between 2018 and 2028. According to Projections Central, firefighting positions in Indiana will open at slightly higher rates, with an 8% rise between 2016 and 2026.

National Average Salaries for Firefighters

0-12 Months

Entry Level

1-4 Years

Early Career

5-9 Years


10-19 Years



Source: PayScale

Firefighter Resources in Indiana

Professional and volunteer firefighters benefit from resources such as organizational membership and state-sponsored websites, which contain plenty of information for firefighters. Moreover, firefighter associations promote camaraderie, often engaging in the community, working with elected officials to ensure better conditions for firefighters, and providing services such as discounted insurance benefits and industry news.

Since Indiana dictates its firefighter requirements at the state level, government sites listing training resources, guides, and recommendations can prove helpful for firefighters in all stages of their profession. The list below details the resources available for firefighters in Indiana.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security

Indiana's DHS oversees firefighter requirements in Indiana and provides a wealth of resources for firefighters in the state, including training information, recommendations, manuals, and guidelines.

The Professional Firefighters Union of Indiana

An affiliate of the International Association of Firefighters, PFFUI serves its members through a newsletter, scholarship opportunities, pension information, and legislative advocacy.

Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association

The IVFA provides its volunteer firefighter members with life insurance, award opportunities, fire-school sponsorship, local meetings, legislative advocacy, and an annual convention.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

The Indiana DNR manages wildfire suppression efforts in the state through its corps of volunteer firefighters, who work to prevent wildfires and provide support to wildland firefighters.

International Association of Firefighters

Associated with many local professional associations, the IAFF offers a plethora of resources to its members. Such resources include online learning, health and safety guidance, pension information, and an annual conference.