Fire Science Degree Programs in Minnesota | Firefighter Training

Written by Kathleen Swed
Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020

Ranked 12th-largest in the nation in physical size, Minnesota's geographic area spans 86,936 square miles. With extensive land to protect against municipal and wildland fires, Minnesota employs a large number of firefighters to match its geographical reach. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects national growth in the occupation to be around 5% from 2018-2028. Minnesota may exceed this rate, as Projections Central expects a 7% employment growth rate in the state from 2016-2026.

With oversight from the state, firefighter requirements in Minnesota are fairly streamlined when compared with those of other states. Regulations still vary by location, however. On this page, readers can learn details about firefighter requirements in Minnesota, including state minimums. This guide also provides answers to frequently asked questions on topics such as testing, wildfire fighting, and physical demands. Finally, the information below covers firefighter courses in Minnesota, occupational and salary data, and resources for firefighters in Minnesota.

Firefighter Requirements in Minnesota

In Minnesota, full-time firefighters must obtain state certification by completing International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) training in fire prevention, fire suppression, and hazardous materials operations. Firefighters in Minnesota may apply for certification once they begin working as a full-time, part-time, or volunteer firefighter. Minnesota firefighters must complete 72 credits of continuing education to renew their license every three years.

While the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education (MBFTE) oversees firefighter licensure in the state, individual towns and departments maintain their own hiring requirements. Some departments, like Burnsville and Apple Valley, prepare recruits for state certification through department-specific training, while Duluth and Brooklyn Park require applicants to hold firefighter I and II certification before they apply so that they qualify immediately for state licensure. Duluth, Saint Paul, and Brooklyn Park also require EMT certification prior to hiring.

Other firefighter requirements in Minnesota may include: written exams covering math, science, and reading comprehension; residential proximity to the fire station; physical fitness and agility tests akin to the National Testing Network's Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT); psychological assessment; a background check; and a high school diploma or GED diploma.

Becoming a Firefighter in Minnesota: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for Minnesota?

    The MBFTE requires all full-time firefighters in Minnesota to complete IFSAC training in fire prevention, fire suppression, and hazardous materials operation. Some departments provide this training, while others require applicants to obtain it before their date of hire.

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

    Though not a state mandate, many departments, like Duluth and Brooklyn Park, require firefighter applicants to hold EMT certification. Others require firefighter I and II certification prior to hiring.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in Minnesota?

    Written tests for firefighters generally require applicants to demonstrate proficiency in reading comprehension, science, math, and mechanics. Certification tests vary by program.

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

    Firefighters must maintain good physical condition. Many departments require physical fitness and/or agility tests as a part of the application process. Burnsville requires its own test, while Duluth requires the CPAT.

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

    Wildland firefighters in Minnesota must obtain training through the Department of Natural Resources and pass a fitness evaluation. Required training includes basic wildland firefighter, human factors on the fireline, and national incident management system overview.

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

    Though full-time firefighters in Minnesota must obtain state certification, training can vary. Burnsville trains recruits through a six-week academy; for departments that do not, applicants must seek out training through IFSAC-approved academic programs or other avenues. An associate degree can take two years.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in Minnesota

Aspiring firefighters in Minnesota can seek the training they need for state certification by enrolling in an academic program and completing a certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree in an area related to fire science. Graduates may qualify for entry-level firefighting positions while also preparing to advance as leaders in emergency services.

Prospective students should always research local regulations for firefighters, as requirements vary among departments. Before enrolling in an academic program, students should make sure they understand how the program outcomes will help them advance toward their chosen career.

Northland Community and Technical College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Technology
Program Description Designed to provide a strong foundation for aspiring and experienced firefighters, NCTC's 62-credit associate degree requires coursework in emergency medical tech, fire service, firefighter fitness, technical rescue, and hazmat tech -- plus general education requirements in composition, algebra, and chemistry.

Hennepin Technical College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Technology
Program Description Designed to prepare students for a variety of fire and emergency services occupations, HTC's 60-credit associate degree requires coursework such as fire department occupational health and safety, firefighter I and II, fire investigation, principles of emergency service, and apparatus operations -- plus general education requirements and technical studies electives.

Lake Superior College

Program Name Associate of Science in Fire Science and Administration
Program Description Ideal for firefighters seeking leadership positions or hoping to continue their studies in a four-year program, LSC's 60-credit program can be completed in two years. Students complete major coursework in fire behavior and combustion, fire protection systems, and elective options such as wildland firefighting, fire protection hydraulics and water supply, and firefighting tactics and strategy.

Fire Science Colleges in Minnesota

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Minnesota

The BLS reports that Minnesota employed 6,840 firefighters as of May 2018, placing the state at the top of the second-highest category for firefighter numbers in the country. Minnesota's numbers soar beyond neighboring North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa, where populations are significantly lower.

Combined with firefighter numbers for Bloomington, Wisconsin, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area of Minnesota ranks in the top ten metropolitan regions in the country for firefighter employment, with 5,800 firefighters working in the region as of May 2018.

Although Minnesota employs more firefighters than many states, they earned salaries in the lowest category in the country during the same time period, with an annual mean wage of $37,690 and a mean hourly wage of $18.12. Firefighters in Minnesota's bordering states all earned more, making Minnesota a regional outlier.

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 Minnesota

Minnesota firefighters can benefit from a selection of state-based resources. The state oversees minimum training requirements for full-time firefighters, and the MBFTE website offers one of many sources for licensing information and training sources for both entry level and continuing education. The state also keeps firefighters up to date on current wildfire dangers.

Professional organizations benefit both volunteer and career firefighters through their connections with elected officials. Typically, firefighter unions stay in constant communication with local and state legislative bodies as they lobby for firefighter rights. The list below illustrates a few examples of firefighter resources in Minnesota.

Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education

The MBFTE oversees firefighter requirements in Minnesota and offers a plethora of information on their website, including licensing information, training, state maps, and reimbursement information for firefighters attending conferences and seminars.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota's DNR hires and trains wildland firefighters in the state. The site offers additional resources, such as wildfire updates and information on where Minnesotans may be deployed when they are needed to fight wildfires in other states.

Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters

An affiliated chapter of the International Association of Firefighters, MPFF supports career firefighters through a member directory, contract assistance, legislative advocacy, and an annual convention.

Minnesota State Fire Department Association

Representing all career and volunteer firefighters plus fire departments in Minnesota, the MSFDA lobbies on behalf of firefighters. The organization also supports members through insurance, grants, a savings program, and members-only discounts.

Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association

The MSFCA supports fire chiefs and senior fire officers in the state through news and exclusive member content on the website, information and training for fire service leaders, and events such as an annual conference.