With over 400 fire stations to fill, Mississippi employs almost 3,000 firefighters to protect against wild and urban fires. The state also has nearly 100 fire inspectors and investigators and approximately 2,060 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics.
Like many other professions, salary can vary, and often depends on the location and the employee's experience, certifications and education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that postsecondary education and certifications, particularly at the paramedic level, can expand career options for firefighters. Take a look at annual wages for those in the 10th, 50th and 90th percentile:
|Mississippi Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$27,240||$43,950||$60,590|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$22,400||$37,510||$69,650|
The desired fire science profession determines the amount of education and certification needed for Mississippi students. All firefighters must earn their career certification by taking the most basic course curriculum and passing standard examinations, but more advanced options also exist. While not necessary for all firefighters, various technical certificates — for example, in fire administration or community fire risk management — are available to those interested in specific careers. The Mississippi Fire Academy serves both aspiring firefighters and professionals working in the field, with a wide range of certificate programs and continuing education courses. While there aren’t a lot of options for fire science programs in-state, students can choose from either on-campus or online studies in a firefighting field.
Mississippi has a college with a fire science program, Meridian Community College, which offers certificates and degrees, depending on students’ goals and ambitions. For the associate degree at MCC, general education courses such as English or math may be delivered online through Mississippi Virtual Community College. While classes like math or speech may seem far from a fire science focus, general education studies are designed to help develop communication and reasoning skills, which could transfer to the workplace.
Mississippi houses a couple of institutions that offer degrees and career or technical certificates in fire science:
|DEGREE LEVEL||STATE||SCHOOL NAME||PROGRAM NAME|
|Associate||Mississippi||Meridian Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Award (<2 years)||Mississippi||Meridian Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
Set short-, medium-, and long-term goals and stay focused on them. These goals should be career-rounded! By that, I mean they should include critical areas like education, career advancement, and financial and family success. Evaluate your goals periodically and don't be afraid to challenge yourself.
I think you should first develop a path to get your education early, before personal commitments become another issue to work around. A good educational path for the fire service in Mississippi would be one that focuses on fire tactics, apparatus, and personnel management. A fire science degree program coupled with an executive fire officer program will set a great base for development.
Mississippi is a tremendous mix of rural and urban fire departments. However, the comradely professional firefighters have with the volunteer firefighters is unbelievable. The sprit of neighbors helping neighbors lives strong in Mississippi.
In the city of Meridian, MCC is the only place for firefighter training, but online delivery of some course work expands convenience for students.
Program Name: Fire Protection Technology
Program Description: MCC has various avenues of study depending on a student's professional plans. The basic curriculum for a career certificate involves the core courses in the Fire Protection Technology program. This takes about 30 hours to complete, and credits are transferable to the technical certificate and associate degree tracks. Fire Protection Technology courses may be available via digital media, and students are responsible for reading assignments and research projects. The instructional approach stresses critical thinking, decision making, information analysis and problem solving.
With an additional 15 hours of fire protection electives, MCC students can earn a technical certificate in community fire risk management, with course options in planning and delivering fire and emergency services. The technical certificate track in fire administration features elective courses in subjects like financial management and fire service supervision. Alternatively, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree by completing another 15 hours of general education course work.
To learn more, visit the MCC Fire Protection Technology page: http://www.meridiancc.edu/workforce-education/emergency-services/fire-protection/index
With a campus dedicated to physical training, the Mississippi Fire Academy features hands-on experience in firefighting.
Program Name: Various
Program Description: A division of the Mississippi Insurance Department, the Mississippi Fire Academy is an institution dedicated solely to training for firefighting. The main campus features an array of training grounds for various firefighting situations, making it the perfect place to “get your hands dirty” before the physical examination. The school offers certification training, rather than degree programs. The broad assortment of courses includes emergency medical services, fire administration and leadership, and fire officer and incident management. Courses can be applied for a foundational education in these fields, or as a first step toward a more advanced education elsewhere.
While its home base is in Jackson, the academy reaches out statewide, hosting classes in various towns. Recent examples of such offerings include automobile extrication (in Hattiesburg), firefighter self-rescue (in Monticello), firefighter safety (in Louisville) and engine company operations (in Moss Point). Extension classes for already employed fire professionals and other interested individuals include Airport Firefighter, Driver Operator, Chief Fire Officer Designation and Volunteer Firefighter Certification.
Visit the Academy's website for more information: http://www.mid.ms.gov/fireacad/fa_home.html
To increase accessibility to training, Mississippi Virtual Community College and Meridian Community College deliver selected courses online for enrolled students. Given the limited number of fire science schools in the state, distance learning is a valid alternative, especially for an associate degree or higher. Online colleges outside the state offer opportunities for certificates or degrees in fire science or fire administration. Firefighting certification requires a physical examination, so hands-on training is important. For those who are unable to attend courses on-campus full time, an online education can be complemented by in-person courses at the Mississippi Fire Academy.