Fire Science Degree Programs in Kentucky | Firefighter Training

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Written by Timothy Levin
Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020

Firefighting makes an excellent career for students who want to serve in crucial community roles and help the public by responding to medical emergencies, housefires, natural disasters, and other hazardous situations. Prospective firefighters with these career aspirations should consider serving in Kentucky.


Since fires and medical emergencies continue to pose threats across the U.S., the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a steady demand for firefighters in the near future. From 2018-2028, nearly 18,000 new firefighting positions will open in the U.S. economy. This page reviews how to become a firefighter in Kentucky, exploring key topics such as hiring requirements, training, academic programs, and salary expectations.



Firefighter Requirements in Kentucky


Some states enforce or suggest minimum qualifications for firefighters, but the requirements to become a firefighter generally vary among cities, counties, and towns in each state. Similarly, firefighter requirements in Kentucky vary among departments.


For example, Lexington's fire department requires applicants to be at least 19 years old and younger than 35. As in most areas, firefighter candidates in Lexington need a high school diploma or the equivalent, and they must qualify for emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. Applicants who pass minimum eligibility requirements complete a written exam, the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), and an oral interview. Candidates must also pass a medical exam, a background check, and a drug screening.


In Louisville, firefighters must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid driver's license and a high school diploma or GED diploma. They must also take a written exam, a physical agility test, and a polygraph exam. Selected candidates complete a 27-week recruit training program. Firefighters in Florence need to be at least 21 years of age, and they must earn an approved firefighter certification.


Becoming a Firefighter in Kentucky: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for Kentucky?

    Fire departments in Kentucky typically require some training after a recruit is hired. Firefighters may need to complete training according to standards outlined by the Kentucky Fire Commission.

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

    Emergency medical services training is a common requirement across fire departments in Kentucky and other states. Most fire departments require at least EMT certification, and some expect paramedic certification, as well.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in Kentucky?

    Testing for firefighters in Kentucky varies among departments. Firefighters generally need to pass a written test and an interview. Some multiple-choice exams test basic aptitude for problem-solving, reading comprehension, and reasoning.

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

    Firefighters must maintain great physical condition, since they may need to stay active for long periods of time and carry heavy equipment. Fire departments generally require a rigorous physical fitness exam, such as the CPAT.

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

    Aspiring wildland firefighters may need to complete training courses following standards set by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Kentucky Emergency Management and the state's Division of Forestry deal with wildfires in Kentucky.

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

    The total time commitment to become a firefighter in Kentucky varies among departments. Some areas require candidates to earn EMT certification before applying. Minimum age requirements may also alter the time it takes to begin fighting fires.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in Kentucky


Fire departments generally require some kind of training, including a daily physical fitness regimen, classroom work, and practical training exercises. Additionally, firefighters must complete emergency services training through one of the many firefighter schools in Kentucky.


Firefighters do not typically need a college education, but a degree can impart the knowledge to secure a position or perform at a high level. Read on to learn more about courses in Kentucky for aspiring firefighters. Since education and training requirements vary among fire departments, make sure to research local regulations before enrolling in a program.

Eastern Kentucky University

Program Name Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Administration
Program Description This program, which holds accreditation from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, provides an overview of fire science, fire protection, and administration. Students may complete the degree on campus or online. Coursework explores topics such as emergency scene operations, disaster planning, arson and explosion investigation, and fire behavior.

Gateway Community and Technical College

Program Name Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Certificate
Program Description Students looking to earn a paramedic certificate must obtain EMT licensure before beginning this program. The 45-credit paramedic program includes 180 hours of clinical work and 360 hours riding in an ambulance. Students build skills and knowledge across advanced airway management, pharmacological interventions, and cardiac care.

Jefferson Community and Technical College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire/Rescue Science Technology
Program Description This program may lead to a job in the emergency services field or a promotion for working firefighters. The 64-credit program includes 18 credit hours of general education courses and 46 credit hours of fire, rescue, and emergency medical services classes. Students learn about topics including fire suppression, leadership, and technical rescue.

Fire Science Colleges in Kentucky

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Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Kentucky


Around 4,240 firefighters worked in Kentucky as of May 2018, but the BLS projects that number to rise considerably in the coming years. According to long-term occupational projections from Projections Central, firefighters in Kentucky can expect a 7.9% growth in opportunities from 2016-2026. That represents a significantly faster job growth rate than the national average for all occupations of 5%.


In terms of salary, Kentucky's firefighters earn a good deal less than the national median for the occupation. Firefighters in Kentucky take home $33,520 annually, while the national median pay for the profession sits at close to $50,000.


But the median pay does not tell the whole story, and firefighter salaries in Kentucky depend on many factors, including geographic location and -- as the table below illustrates -- professional experience. Firefighters in areas with higher costs of living tend to earn more, as do those with many years in the field. Local demand can also contribute to firefighter salaries.


National Average Salaries for Firefighters

0-12 Months

Entry Level

$40,657
1-4 Years

Early Career

$41,666
5-9 Years

Mid-Career

$48,760
10-19 Years

Experienced

$56,191

Source: PayScale

Firefighter Resources in Kentucky


Students, entry-level firefighters, and seasoned fire officers can all benefit from professional resources and organizations in the firefighting field. Local and national unions inform firefighters about their rights, compensation issues, and lobbying efforts. These professional associations also provide opportunities for firefighters to socialize and voice their concerns about the profession.


Government bodies like the U.S. Fire Administration and local agencies provide useful information on the fire problem in America. Through it and other government agencies, firefighters and departments can access data, publications, training, and professional development programs.


Kentucky Firefighters Association

Established in 1919, KYFA offers scholarships, information on legislative efforts, and a careers page. It also posts useful links to outside organizations and publishes relevant news through its Smoke Signals publication.

Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters

KPFF joins the members of 43 firefighting and emergency medical services unions in Kentucky. The organization works to advance the political interests of firefighters. It also hosts meetings, funds a scholarship, and posts news items.

Kentucky Association of Fire Chiefs

KAFC works to advance Kentucky's emergency services by supporting its leaders. The organization boasts information and educational resources. It offers a newsletter, along with fire prevention guides for chiefs to distribute to the public.

International Association of Fire Fighters

The IAFF represents over 318,000 firefighters and paramedics. It offers numerous resources and services, including scholarships, pension information, health and safety resources, a legal department, and a job center.

U.S. Fire Administration

USFA, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, supports first responders through funding, training, and education. It publishes reports, offers free public education materials, and boasts free training and education programs.