Fire Science Degree Programs in Massachusetts | Firefighter Training
Written by Timothy Levin Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020
To pursue a career that enables you to serve your community and ensure its safety, consider becoming a firefighter in Massachusetts. Firefighters risk their lives to protect the public from natural disasters, wildfires, housefires, and other dangers. They undergo significant emergency medical training and play a key role in responding to many types of medical emergencies.
Since fires and medical emergencies continue to plague the U.S. public, firefighters remain in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% increase in firefighting jobs from 2018-2028, leading to nearly 18,000 new positions.
This guide explores how to become a firefighter in Massachusetts and discusses training requirements, education options, salaries, and job growth potential. Below, you can also learn about some of the firefighter schools in Massachusetts and explore answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a firefighter in the state.
Firefighter requirements in Massachusetts vary among cities, counties, and towns in the state. Each fire department determines the qualifications that its candidates must meet in order to become career firefighters. While some expectations are standard across all or most fire departments in Massachusetts, the first step toward becoming a firefighter begins with researching requirements for the area in which you plan to work.
For example, firefighters in Boston need to sign up for a state civil service exam, which takes place every two years. Candidates must be at least 19 years old and no older than 32. They must also be Boston residents for at least one year prior to taking the exam. After passing the exam and joining the Boston Fire Department, firefighters enter a probation period during which they complete their training, earn firefighter 1 and 2 certifications, and become certified emergency medical technicians (EMT).
The Tewksbury fire department prefers applicants who already hold EMT certification or who are enrolled in an EMT course. The department also gives preference to applicants who have resided in Tewksbury for at least 12 months before the exam. New hires undergo a full physical and background investigation, and must attend the 10-week recruit training program at the Massachusetts Fire Academy.
Becoming a Firefighter in Massachusetts: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Massachusetts?
Some fire departments, such as those in Boston and Worcester, administer their own training programs. Other departments require employed firefighters to attend the Massachusetts Fire Academy, an initiative of the Department of Fire Services.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Fire departments across the country generally require some form of emergency medical services training, and Massachusetts is no exception. Some departments require that new hires earn EMT certification within one year after being hired.
What is the test like for firefighters in Massachusetts?
Written and oral exams vary between fire departments in Massachusetts. Some localities -- such as Boston and Tewksbury -- require firefighters to become civil servants, meaning they must take the civil service exam.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters must maintain great physical fitness to do their jobs effectively. To become a firefighter in Massachusetts, all recruits must take the state Physical Ability Test (PAT). The PAT encompasses seven activities, including a stair climb, hose advance, and forcible entry.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Massachusetts?
The Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry works with local fire departments and other agencies to prevent and suppress wildfires in Massachusetts. Bureau firefighters undergo training to use forestry tools, brush breakers, and other necessary equipment.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Massachusetts?
The time it takes to become a firefighter in Massachusetts depends on the hiring process and requirements at your specific department. Age restrictions, probationary periods, and certification requirements vary.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Massachusetts
In addition to training through the Massachusetts Fire Academy, many firefighter courses in Massachusetts can help prepare students for careers in the field. Aspiring firefighters need to earn an EMT certification, and some may also choose to become certified paramedics. Students can complete the emergency medical training required as part of a certificate or a degree.
Additionally, a degree in fire science or a similar field may provide the educational foundation you need to succeed in fire protection. Make sure to look up local regulations before enrolling in a program, since education and training requirements differ between cities and towns.
This associate program explores fire protection and fire prevention principles and methods. All fire science classes follow standards set by Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education, a U.S. Fire Administration initiative. Students explore topics including fire science history, current trends in the field, fire investigation, and building construction.
This online bachelor's degree in fire science prepares firefighters for senior-level leadership positions. Students learn about management topics, including legal issues, human resource management, emergency services finance, and administration. They also take classes on disaster planning, fire investigation and analysis, and community risk reduction. This degree completion program comprises 60 credits.
Certified EMTs looking for additional training and certification may earn this degree, which qualifies graduates to take the National Registry of Emergency Technicians Paramedic exam. Students complete coursework, lab-based activities, clinical experience, and an internship. They work under supervision to gain experience in hospitals, ambulances, and other healthcare settings.
Fire Science Colleges in Massachusetts
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Massachusetts
Firefighters in Massachusetts rank among the most well-paid firefighters in the country. They take home an average annual salary of $60,080, considerably higher than the national median salary of $49,620. In addition, the highest paid firefighters in Massachusetts -- those with earnings in the 90th percentile -- enjoy salaries of more than $86,770.
Firefighter salaries in Massachusetts depend on several key factors, including geographic location. For example, Boston's firefighters earn an annual mean pay of $62,900, while those in Springfield take home $51,490 on average. Some areas simply boast a higher demand for firefighters, a higher cost of living, or other characteristics that lead to above-average salaries. Additionally, as the data below demonstrates, firefighter salaries in Massachusetts vary depending on a firefighter's professional experience.
Firefighters in Massachusetts enjoy high pay and benefit from positive long-term job growth. According to BLS projections, these professionals will see a 4.5% increase in job opportunities from 2016-2026.
During the hiring process and after becoming a firefighter in Massachusetts, fire protection workers can benefit from various professional resources. National and local unions host meetings, connect firefighters with continuing education opportunities, inform firefighters about their benefits, and advocate for legislation that benefits firefighters. Through union and professional association meetings, firefighters can socialize, network, and discuss the challenges they face.
Unions also offer great resources for learning about trends and developments in firefighting. Firefighter organizations in Massachusetts, and agencies like the U.S. Fire Administration, publish newsletters and other resources that keep firefighters well-informed.