Fire Science Degree Programs in Maryland | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020
With a population of just over 6 million people, Maryland has a mid-range population size and firefighter workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters in Maryland out-earned those in neighboring states as of May 2018, bringing home an annual mean salary outpacing West Virginia by $24,960.
Maryland features a high population and concentration of firefighters near the Washington, D.C., area. It also employs a crew of wildland firefighters through the state Department of Natural Resources.
On this page, readers can find information on how to become firefighters in Maryland, with topics covering the state's firefighter requirements, answers to frequently asked questions about becoming firefighters in Maryland, and information on academic programs for firefighters in Maryland.
Firefighter requirements in Maryland vary by county, city, and fire department. Some departments, such as Beltsville and Rockville, allow junior members to join the fire department and begin training at age 16. Others, like Baltimore and Anne Arundel County, require applicants to be at least 18 years old.
Certification requirements for firefighters vary by location as well, though many departments requiring specific certifications train recruits through their own fire academies. Beltsville's volunteer fire department trains firefighters with no experience, and Baltimore does not require any credentials for entry-level firefighters. Frederick County trains recruits as part of a 28-week fire academy, as do Howard and Anne Arundel counties.
In Anne Arundel County, firefighter candidates must have at least six months of work experience to qualify, plus a high school diploma or GED diploma. Baltimore and Howard County require candidates to hold a high school or GED diploma, as well. Volunteer departments in Rockville and Beltsville do not require a high school diploma.
Other common requirements for firefighters in Maryland include a valid driver's license, written tests, physical examinations, and background checks. Some jurisdictions, like Baltimore and Howard County, require that recruits agree not to use tobacco products either on duty or off duty while employed as firefighters.
Becoming a Firefighter in Maryland: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Maryland?
Many fire departments in Maryland provide their own training through local fire academies. Training covers subjects like fire department organization, building construction, search and rescue procedures, and water distribution systems.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Many departments require EMT certification or some knowledge of emergency medical services, but many also provide this training as part of the fire academy for recruits.
What is the test like for firefighters in Maryland?
Frederick and Howard counties both require written tests comprising multiple-choice questions in human relations, mechanical aptitude, reading, and math.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters must be in good shape to adequately perform their duties. Most departments require candidates to pass a physical fitness/agility exam as part of the hiring process.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Maryland?
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources hires, trains, and deploys wildfire suppression teams in Maryland. To qualify, candidates must complete a 40-hour training course in wildland firefighting and incident command systems.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Maryland?
Fire departments in Maryland that train their recruits also pay them during the duration of the fire academy. Frederick County's fire academy takes 28 weeks, while Howard County's takes 26 weeks.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Maryland
Aspiring and in-service firefighters can benefit from an academic program in fire science or a related subject. Students seeking entry-level firefighting positions can obtain the necessary training to qualify for the position of their choice, while more experienced firefighters may seek opportunities for career advancement. Academic programs in fire science provide a strong foundation for work in emergency services.
Because firefighter requirements in Maryland differ among locations, prospective students should research the regulations set forth by their local departments before committing to a firefighter training program.
Ideal for career firefighters seeking career advancement and leadership opportunities, FCC's 60-credit associate degree requires coursework in fire protection systems, disaster planning and response, fire and emergency services administration, public safety leadership and ethics, firefighter I and II, and emergency medical services. Students can complete the program in four semesters.
Designed to serve both entry-level and in-service firefighters, PGCC's 60-credit associate degree requires courses in firefighter I and II, emergency medical technician basics, hazardous materials, engine company fireground operations, firefighter survival and rescue, and fire and arson investigation -- plus general education requirements for computer literacy, composition, and introduction to statistics.
Designed to provide an overview of emergency services that extends beyond the fire service, MC's 24-credit certificate program gives students a solid foundation through courses in principles of emergency service, fire behavior and combustion, building construction for fire protection, fire protection systems, and fire protection hydraulics and water supply.
Fire Science Colleges in Maryland
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Maryland
The BLS reports that Maryland employed 4,140 firefighters as of May 2018, placing it in the bottom half of U.S. states for firefighter employment. However, firefighter salaries in Maryland land squarely in the top category nationally, with firefighters earning an annual mean wage of $61,670 and an hourly mean wage of $30. These numbers exceed firefighter salaries in Maryland's neighboring states of Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
Firefighters in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area employed 5,800 firefighters as of May 2018. This metropolitan area straddles three states, and its firefighter force exceeds Maryland's state total by about 40%.
While the BLS estimates national demand for firefighters to rise by about 5% between 2018 and 2028, Projections Central projects little or no change in Maryland between 2016 and 2026.
By seeking out resources from professional organizations, state agencies, and training schools, firefighters in Maryland can increase their skills, network with colleagues, and engage in the communities they serve.
Professional firefighter organizations provide important services to their members, educating elected officials on issues of importance in emergency services and advocating for firefighters at the local, state, and federal levels. State agencies provide training for entry-level and in-service firefighters, plus wildfire updates and guidelines, job opportunities, and information on state certifications related to emergency services.