Fire Science Degree Programs in New Jersey | Firefighter Training
Written by Timothy Levin Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Individuals wanting to pursue rewarding and exciting career paths should strongly consider jobs in firefighting. Firefighters serve their communities by preventing and responding to various emergencies, including housefires, wildfires, and medical emergencies. Wherever they work, fire protection workers risk their lives to fill critical roles in their communities.
Demand for firefighters is growing across the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that from 2018-2028, well over 17,000 new firefighting jobs should open up. The BLS also notes that jobs for firefighters will continue to grow steadily due to the ongoing danger of fires and other hazardous situations.
This guide teaches you how to become a firefighter in New Jersey. Read on to explore information on training programs, salaries, and academic options. Below you can also learn the answers to some common questions about firefighter requirements in New Jersey.
In most states, requirements for becoming a firefighter vary by city, county, and town. Local jurisdictions determine the qualifications their new hires must meet regarding exams, residency expectations, certifications, and other requirements. In New Jersey, some requirements are standard across many jurisdictions in the state, but aspects of the hiring process vary among departments.
In Newark, firefighters must possess a valid New Jersey driver's license and a high school diploma or equivalent certificate. They must be between 18 and 35 years of age, meet residency requirements, and pass written and physical exams.
In Trenton, on the other hand, applicants take an entry-level firefighter exam approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The fire department offers the exam every two years, and candidates with a military background or volunteer firefighter status may earn extra points. Those who pass the written exam qualify to take a physical test.
Many New Jersey fire departments require firefighters to take a civil service exam, which includes a written component and a physical fitness evaluation. Read on to learn more about how to become a firefighter in New Jersey.
Becoming a Firefighter in New Jersey: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for New Jersey?
New hires must complete a firefighter training program approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety. Firefighters may complete training through their local fire academy or training center, as well.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
In some jurisdictions, firefighters must obtain and maintain emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. Some departments also require CPR training and certification through the American Red Cross of American Heart Association.
What is the test like for firefighters in New Jersey?
Some fire departments require applicants to take the New Jersey Civil Service Commission Entry Level Firefighter Examination. Veterans and volunteer firefighters earn extra points on their exam scores.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters must be in great physical shape, since they regularly complete strenuous tasks with heavy equipment. The New Jersey Civil Service Commission administers the physical performance test, which includes an obstacle course, a maze crawl, and a ladder climb.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service, part of the Department of Environmental Protection, responds to wildfires throughout the state. It employs full-time staff and close to 1,800 highly trained, part-time wildland firefighters.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in New Jersey?
The total time commitment for becoming a firefighter in New Jersey depends on several factors. For example, the Civil Service Commission only administers the firefighter examination every few years.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in New Jersey
Aspiring fire protection workers can choose from a variety of firefighter schools in New Jersey. Fire academies offer intensive programs, which prepare firefighters to tackle various emergencies in the field. Cadets participate in training exercises, attend classes, and build their physical strength and stamina.
Additionally, colleges and universities offer degrees and certificates to prepare firefighters to succeed in their jobs. Many fire departments require firefighters to complete EMT programs, and a degree in fire science provides valuable knowledge and skills. Below, you can learn more about firefighter courses in New Jersey, but make sure to research local regulations before enrolling in a program.
This bachelor's program, the only university-based fire science program in New Jersey, readies graduates for entry-level and advanced jobs in fire service. Students may take courses in person and online. They learn from retired fire officers, firefighters, and fire service professionals. Coursework explores topics including engine company operations, emergency personnel fitness, and fire investigation.
PCCC offers an associate degree in fire science technology, available both on campus and online. The degree comprises 60 total credits from general education classes, major requirements, and electives. The 27-credit major includes courses on subjects such as fire behavior and combustion, fire protection hydraulics, and building construction for fire prevention.
This certificate program qualifies graduates to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam. Those who pass can become certified EMTs, a common prerequisite for becoming a firefighter in New Jersey. The program teaches students to evaluate and address medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest, childbirth, trauma, and fractures.
Fire Science Colleges in New Jersey
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in New Jersey
Firefighters in New Jersey enjoy some of the highest salaries among fire protection workers in the United States. New Jersey ranks second in the country in terms of firefighter pay, and firefighters in the state take home a mean annual salary of $76,530. Firefighters in California earn slightly more, boasting mean salaries of $81,580.
Keep in mind that many factors affect firefighter salary in New Jersey. For example, firefighters in some parts of the state enjoy higher salaries than others. Firefighters serving in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area make a mean annual wage of $78,840, while those working in the Atlantic City-Hammonton area earn $74,130. The top 10% of New Jersey firefighters enjoy salaries above $114,000.
In the short term, Projections Central expects a 0.5% increase in jobs for New Jersey's firefighters. However, it projects a slight decrease in job opportunities in the long term, from 2016-2026.
See below for a sampling of some useful professional resources for firefighters in New Jersey. Whether a student, an early career firefighter, or a seasoned fire chief, these resources can help you stay informed about the field and develop your career.
Professional associations and unions help firefighters advocate for legislation, network, and discuss the challenges they face. Unions also publish news updates and offer continuing education opportunities to keep firefighters apprised of the latest trends in their profession. Local and national government agencies offer valuable information on regulations and the fire problem in the United States.