New Jersey is among the top-paying states in the nation when it comes to salaries for firefighters, investigators and inspectors, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Some 4,170 firefighters and 1,040 investigators and inspectors staff the state’s 729 fire stations across the state. In fact, New Jersey’s investigators and inspectors comprise the largest number of such employees per service area in the United States. Degrees, certificates and non-credit courses in New Jersey are available for entry, mid and leadership-level firefighting positions.
Wages for inspectors and investigators at the top tier in New Jersey are among the highest in the nation. Take a look at annual salaries for three core fire service occupations at the entry, median and advanced levels:
|New Jersey Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Fire Service Supervisors
New Jersey City University and Gloucester County College are postsecondary schools that offer specialized fire science training. Degrees, certificates and non-credit courses are available at the schools. A Bachelor of Science in Fire Science, an EMT training certificate and a fire safety manager certificate are credentials students can earn. Gloucester Fire Academy, in partnership with Gloucester County College, provides training courses to emergency services workers. Students can also pursue a minor in fire science at schools like New Jersey City University while majoring in another field.
Many instructors for the courses have spent years working and/or teaching in fire science or emergency medical services. As an example, some of the professors are former directors of area fire departments, captains of the New Jersey Fire Department Bureau of Fire Prevention and fire department deputy chiefs. Colleges and universities like New Jersey City University also have had fire science courses taught by specialists who work in nearby New York. The school’s fire department has seen a faculty member who works as a World Trade Center Operations Manager, and another who is a retired Commissioner of the City of New York Fire Department. Courses these professors teach include introduction to fire science, emergency personnel fitness, hazardous materials and firefighting tactics. Adults who want to gain the training to work as emergency care specialists can take advantage of EMT programs.
EMT training is offered at dozens of sites in New Jersey, including Atlantic Cape Community College, Bergen County Emergency Medical Service Training Center, Camden County College’s Blackwood Campus, Cape May Public Safety Center and Morris County’s Public Safety Training Academy. The aim of the EMT training courses is to prepare students to gain the skills to work at the EMT-Basic level. At the end of the training, students can take the New Jersey State Certifying Examination. The EMT-B Core Refresher course is a continuing education course that trains currently practicing EMTs on new emergency medicine methods and strategies.
New Jersey has undergraduate credit courses as well as non-credit continuing education courses in fire science and EMT training. Below are postsecondary schools in New Jersey that offer fire science programs. Gloucester County College also offers EMT training.
|DEGREE LEVEL||STATE||SCHOOL NAME||PROGRAM NAME|
|Associate||New Jersey||Burlington County College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||New Jersey||Camden County College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||New Jersey||County College of Morris||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||New Jersey||Mercer County Community College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||New Jersey||Middlesex County College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||New Jersey||Ocean County College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||New Jersey||Passaic County Community College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||New Jersey||Sussex County Community College||Fire Protection, Other|
|Associate||New Jersey||Union County College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Award (<2 years)||New Jersey||Burlington County College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
Consider yourself a student to this profession; seek to learn everything you can. Once you have achieved a competency, share your knowledge with new firefighters. Remember where you came from and leave it better than how you found it.
Seek ProBoard certifications. They offer reciprocity and validity. Prevention, inspection, investigation, and EMT-B should be considered required knowledge for all career candidates. The more you know, and can do, the more valuable you are to an organization. Degrees in public administration or human resources will provide more value when you reach the 4 or 5 horn rank.
Any combination fire department (career and volunteer firefighters) is a challenge. There are challenges of diversity and expectations of service. Our region is firematically diverse—urban centers, industrial, suburban subdivisions, and rural/wildland in one 60 square mile area. Half is public water and half is unprotected.
Gloucester County College is a two-year postsecondary school that has degree and certificate programs. The college also provides career education in fire science and emergency medical technician training.
Program Name: Firefighter I
Program Description: The Firefighter I course at Gloucester County College is taught in conjunction with the Gloucester County Fire Academy. It adheres to the National Fire Standard Protection 1001, and lasts for approximately 16 weeks. Enrollment in the program requires that students be a member of a fire company, fire brigade or fire department. Taught in a classroom setting, the program provides training on fire science safety, techniques and tactics. Instructors are state certified. Optional, complementary courses include Incident Command I-300 and Surviving Modern Residential Fires. The modern fire environment, changes in building structure, functional areas and positions, and leadership and management are topics covered in the courses.
More information can be found at: http://fireacademy.gccnj.edu/courses.cfm
New Jersey City University offers education, arts and sciences and professional studies programs that cover a range of occupations, such as fire science. Some fire science programs are designed as a major, while less in-depth programs are designed as a minor.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Fire Science
Program Description: The Bachelor of Science in Fire Science degree program at New Jersey City University consists of eight core courses and 10 electives. The total number of credits available through the core courses is 24, while the electives offer a total of 15 credits. When pursuing a minor in Fire Science, students are only required to complete eight core courses.
Adults interested in working as firefighters, fire inspectors or fire investigators can gain introductory as well as more advanced knowledge and skills as fire science specialists by taking degree related programs. Included among the program courses are fire prevention and related codes, fire officer company management, fire department organization and hydraulic technology. Upon graduation from the program, students should have the skills to seek work as a firefighter or fire officer.
More information on the program can be found at: https://www.njcu.edu/firescience
To access fire science online programs, students may be required to use technology programs such as Blackboard. At schools like New Jersey City University, certain fire science program courses are supplemented with distance learning options. Guest lectures and professor trainings are delivered using video, audio and webcasts. Students are expected to attend all online lectures and discussions, even if they are attending school from home.
New Jersey residents wishing to pursue careers as firefighters, building fire managers, fire inspectors and fire investigators can benefit from earning online fire science degrees for a variety of reasons. Students have access to a wider range of choices than may be available in their home state. Also, individuals living in remote or rural areas may enroll in a dual program that combines classroom and distance learning. This could allow these students to gain firsthand training and practice while permitting them to study from home, balancing work and school, and avoiding the commute to class.