Fire Science Degree Programs in Michigan | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a growing need for firefighters across the nation, and Michigan is no exception. While the BLS expects the national demand to grow by 5% from 2018-2028 alongside other occupations, Projections Central reports a slightly better outlook in Michigan, with demand set to grow by 6.7% between 2016 and 2026.
Firefighter requirements in Michigan depend largely on the local regulations for each city, town, or county, and aspiring firefighters can benefit from training resources offered by the state and community colleges. Read on to learn more about how to become a firefighter in Michigan, including frequent firefighter requirements and some of the local variations. This guide also includes answers to frequently asked questions, examples of academic programs for firefighters and emergency services workers, and detailed job growth and salary data for the region.
Firefighter requirements in Michigan depend on the department to which an aspiring firefighter wishes to apply. Regulations vary widely by town, county, or other local jurisdiction. For example, an applicant in Grand Rapids or Troy must be 18 years old, with no age cap, while applicants in Michigan City must be between the ages of 21 and 35.
Educational requirements also vary from place to place. Michigan City, Troy, and Ann Arbor require candidates to hold a high school diploma or GED diploma, while Grand Rapids does not. Ann Arbor additionally requires candidates to apply with firefighter I and II certification and EMT certification, whereas Grand Rapids trains recruits in these areas as part of the department's three-month fire academy. Troy hires recruits without firefighter certification, but it requires that they obtain their credentials before the end of their probationary period.
Many departments require firefighters to undergo a physical fitness and/or agility test before hiring. Michigan City requires the National Testing Network's (NTN) Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT) for firefighters, which consists of challenges like stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, and ceiling breach.
Additional firefighter requirements in Michigan may include residential proximity to the station, a driver's license, background check, vision minimums, and interviews.
Becoming a Firefighter in Michigan: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Michigan?
Firefighters who undergo training through a department academy, such as in Grand Rapids, obtain firefighter I and II certification through live-fire exercises, equipment management, hazardous materials operations, and emergency medical services.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Some departments, such as Ann Arbor, require firefighters to hold EMT certification upon application. Others, like Grand Rapids, include EMT training as part of the fire academy. Michigan City does not require it.
What is the test like for firefighters in Michigan?
Locations that require written tests, such as Michigan City, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids, mandate that firefighters must demonstrate the ability to understand and communicate written and oral directions, math, and mechanical reasoning.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
To adequately perform their duties, firefighters must maintain good physical fitness. Most departments require applicants to complete a fitness test such as the CPAT.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Michigan?
Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employs a force of wildland firefighters that responds to an average of 500 wildfires each year. The DNR coordinates volunteer fire departments, DNR firefighters, and national forest service firefighters to suppress wildland fires in the state.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Michigan?
Grand Rapids trains firefighters through a three-month academy program. For other departments, such as Ann Arbor, applicants must obtain EMT and other certifications ahead of time. These certifications can take three months or longer, depending on how the candidate chooses to obtain them.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Michigan
Michigan features many academic programs for aspiring firefighters, including certificate programs, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees, many of which prepare firefighters and emergency technicians to obtain their firefighting credentials and better qualify for a wide variety of career possibilities.
Though no degree can guarantee advancement or a particular title, firefighters who pursue academic coursework and/or degrees may find more advancement opportunities as they gain experience. Because requirements vary by location, prospective students should always check local regulations before enrolling to ensure their chosen academic program aligns with their career goals.
Intended to prepare professional-track firefighters for firefighter I and II certification, LSSU's 124-credit bachelor's degree program requires major courses in fire cause and arson investigation, introduction to fire science, hazardous materials, tactics and strategy, fire service and the law, and fire protection hydraulics and pumps, plus general education requirements.
Designed for entry-level aspiring firefighters, LSSU's 62-credit associate degree can feed into the bachelor's degree for students who decide to continue their studies. Required courses include introduction to fire science, hazardous materials, fire protection construction concepts, fire protection hydraulics and pumps, and company level supervision and management, plus general education courses.
LCC's associate degree program consists of three possible pathways: the 69-credit national fire academy pathway, the 65-credit firefighter pathway, and the 70-credit fire service management pathway. Courses may include principles of emergency services, fire behavior and combustion, firefighter I and II, strategy and tactics, and fire officer I and II, plus general education requirements.
Fire Science Colleges in Michigan
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Michigan
According to the BLS, Michigan employed 6,640 firefighters as of May 2018, placing the state in the second-highest category for employment of firefighters in the nation. Neighboring states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all eclipsed Michigan's numbers -- Ohio by more than 12,000, though that discrepancy can be explained by Ohio's greater population.
Michigan firefighters earned an annual mean wage of $45,440 as of May 2018, with an hourly rate of $21.85. At pace with Ohio and Indiana, and higher than Wisconsin, Michigan firefighter salaries align with regional tendencies. Only Illinois paid firefighters more as of May 2018, which makes sense given Chicago's status as the third-largest city in the country.
Nationally, the BLS expects a growth in demand for firefighters of about 5%, aligning with the average for other occupations. Projections Central expects about the same in Michigan, with 6.7% growth expected from 2016-2026.
In Michigan, firefighters can take advantage of many resources available to them both in person and online. State agencies promote training opportunities and keep firefighters apprised of wildfire dangers in the state. Training centers can serve the needs of firefighters whose home departments do not provide fire academy training.
Professional organizations also offer crucial services to firefighters, including connecting with elected leaders and ensuring prime safety conditions through legislative action. Unions help firefighters to secure good contracts, obtain insurance, plan retirement, and connect with the communities they serve.