The state of Minnesota offers a number of opportunities to those interested in pursing a degree and career in fire science. With 714 fire departments, Minnesota had 5,700 firefighters and 180 fire inspectors and investigators as of May 2013. Individuals with the required training and certification can also opt for related careers such as emergency medical technician or paramedic.
Salaries for these fire science professions can vary, and often reflect differences in education, experience and certification. Specific location within the state can also make a difference. Below are salary figures for three different fire service occupations in Minnesota at the entry, median and advanced levels:
Minnesota Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$43,910||$64,230||$78,810|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$30,970||$46,720||$78,070|
For students serious about a career in firefighting, it’s best to earn a degree in fire science. Minnesota currently has five accredited schools that offer training in fire science, spread out across the state from Minneapolis to near the Canadian border. However, these schools provide only an associate degree in fire science or a fire fighter certificate; no schools in the state offer a four-year program.
Minnesota has a long but basic list of prerequisites, including a high school diploma/GED, background and criminal history check, drug screening, minimum level of computer proficiency and a valid Minnesota driver’s license. Perhaps most important, a Fire Fighter I certificate is needed before the individual applies, rather than is hired (as is the case with most states). Fire Fighter I and Fire Fighter II certifications can be earned after both a written exam and a series of practical skill evaluations, which a scholastic course in fire science can help prepare students for. For a more ambitious career as a firefighting professional, i.e. investigator, chief or prevention engineer, an associate degree or higher is suggested. An associate degree in fire science can be completed in as little as two years, depending on a student’s schedule.
Those pursuing a career in firefighting in Minnesota can earn their degree or certificate at one of the five schools below:
Don't focus solely on firefighting. A well-rounded individual can bring a lot of things to the table so pursue education in things that interest you or you are good at. Everyone trying to get a firefighter job already has studied firefighting—what makes you different?
Start out with earning your two-year degree in fire science, then build from there. Pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Look into broader areas such as emergency management.
The weather—it’s hot and cold. The geography—we have a city that is 80 square miles and is 30 miles long. It can take a long time for the next due company to reach a scene so companies are forced to operate on their own sometimes for quite a while. The fire service is always changing and developing here so many new ideas are coming down the line. Some are met with enthusiasm, others not so much.
Located in the outskirts of Minneapolis, Hennepin Technical College sees more graduates with fire science degrees than any other school in Minnesota.
Program Name: Fire Protection
Program Description: Combining technical knowledge and hands-on experience, Hennepin Tech’s Fire Protection program offers an education to prepare students for the firefighting profession. The school also provides certificates and transferable credits for those on a baccalaureate degree pathway. Classes are offered in the day or evening at the Eden Prairie campus.
For more information, visit the school’s Fire Protection page: https://www.hennepintech.edu/programs/overview/Fire_Protection
Minnesota State is a choice available for those looking only for certification as a firefighter.
Program Name: Fire Service Preparation
Program Description: For meeting national and Minnesota state qualifications, M State’s Fire Service Preparation program is built to prepare students for their firefighter careers and more. Students are instructed in the standards for a variety of fields, including hazardous materials, public fire education and technical rescue. Additionally, after certification, students are eligible to meet the national testing requirements for EMTs.
For details about at the program, visit: http://www.minnesota.edu/programs_majors.php?prog_code=282#/
This vast state covers a land area of nearly 80,000 square miles, allowing for areas of wilderness as well as urban metropolitan centers. For those without easy access to a college campus, online education could be a strong contender. No schools in Minnesota offer a four-year program, and none of the above Minnesota fire schools offer an online component, so distance learning programs at out-of-state online schools may be necessary. Columbia Southern University has options for online fire science studies, including a bachelor's degree in fire administration. A career as a firefighter also necessitates a physical exam, so students can reach out to their local fire stations for more information on where to gain hands-on experience.