New Mexico is home to fire science schools and a wide range of professional fire service organizations that make the state attractive for degree seekers. Some 1,730 firefighters serve in nearly 250 fire stations across the state, responding to emergencies in urban and wilderness areas. Additionally, an estimated 1,390 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics work alongside firefighters to respond to emergencies, rescue operations, hazardous incidents and natural disasters.
Other key emergency services personnel in the state include fire investigators, fire inspectors, and fire prevention specialists. Wages vary by level of education, service area, and type of agency. Below is a glance at annual salaries for three core fire service occupations in New Mexico:
|New Mexico Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Fire Service Supervisors
New Mexico colleges and universities offer options such as an Associate of Applied Science Fire Science Technology, a Bachelor’s of Applied Arts and Science in Fire and Emergency Service Administration or an Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science. Some of the programs feature two concentrations, one that focuses on advanced fire science and another that focuses on emergency medical services. General education subjects such as analysis and argument in English composition, general chemistry and biology for health related sciences are required to graduate from the more advanced programs.
For example, Eastern New Mexico University requires a minimum of 128 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree in fire and emergency service administration. Courses associated with the program include personnel management, fire prevention organization and management and emergency management. At Dona Ana Community College, the fire science program is three-pronged, with developmental, technical and core components. Adults seeking to balance school and work have the option of taking distance learning courses at some schools.
Community colleges and four-year postsecondary schools provide fire science training in New Mexico. Undergraduate credentials, such as professional certificates in fire science, can also be earned at these schools.
If you truly want to be in this profession, don't stop trying. There is a lot of competition in this field, so keep making yourself the best applicant (i.e. take courses, volunteer, and apply for jobs whenever possible).
Get your EMT license, get a bachelor's degree (fire science, emergency medical services, emergency management, or public admin are great, but really any degree is useful for being well-rounded).
For the most part, we do it all—structural firefighting, wildland firefighting, hazardous materials, emergency medical, heavy rescue, etc. The rural nature of New Mexico makes us resource thin, so those that exist are well rounded.
The Fire Science Technology program at Dona Ana Branch Community College is developed in conjunction with the New Mexico Firefighters Training Academy.
Program Name: Fire Science Technology
Program Description: Degree and non-degree continuing education courses are offered at Dona Ana Branch Community College. The school operates three campuses and four learning centers. Fire Science Technology is among the college's numerous specialized career programs.
At Dona Ana Community College, the associate degree program focuses on fire investigation, theory, management and prevention. Courses could cover the principles of emergency services, wildland fire control, fire suppression tactics and strategies, building construction and fire behavior. Some courses may take place at the New Mexico Firefighters Training Academy (NMFTA) located in Socorro. Given the focus on investigation, students also explore subjects related to criminal justice and law enforcement.
While the degree program's emphasis is on careers other than firefighter, this curriculum can provide basic firefighting foundations for those entering the field. Individuals planning to gain a Firefighter I credential can obtain a Certificate of Completion from DABCC and then apply for certification through the NMFTA. The college advises aspiring firefighters to seek additional operational experience and training at the NMFTA.
More information is available at: https://dacc.nmsu.edu/
The University of New Mexico's fire science programs are designed to equip students with in-depth fire science and emergency medicine knowledge and skills.
Program Name: Fire Science
Program Description: Students who wish to explore firefighting and/or emergency medical services can consider the Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science. The degree program offers two concentrations: emergency medical services and advanced fire science. The coursework for the major is based on the United States Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) study material. Program participants also explore a range of general education classes.
While focusing on the emergency medical services concentration, students can gain the skills to enter careers as EMTs and paramedics. After completing the program, students can take the New Mexico EMT-Basic and EMT-I (Intermediate) licensing examinations. Courses associated with this concentration include clinical and field experience, introduction to statistics, human analogy and physiology for health sciences. Additionally, a bachelor's degree program is available in emergency medical services, and some of these courses may be delivered online.
The fire science concentration is designed to prepare students to enter careers as firefighters and fire officers or chiefs. Examples of courses associated with this concentration include elements of general chemistry, hazardous materials, wildland firefighting and incident safety officer training.
More information can be found at: http://losalamos.unm.edu/degrees-certificates/associate-of-applied-science/fire-science.html
New Mexico is a sparsely populated state, and students who want to work in firefighting careers may reside in areas that are not near colleges, universities or educational centers. Online fire science degree or certificate programs can serve these individuals, along with working professionals who see varied shift schedules. Hybrid programs offer a blend of classroom and web-based training, allowing students to gain hands-on experience as firefighters.
Brick-and-mortar colleges may provide a limited catalog of online courses, for example, certain general education subjects. Tools such as Mediasite, Blackboard and Instructional Television (IT) are used to deliver online course material. Selected correspondence courses are also offered through schools like the University of New Mexico. Additionally, some colleges and universities operate educational centers in more remote areas, giving students the opportunity to receive academic advisement as needed.