Fire Science Degree Programs in New York | Firefighter Training

Written by Kathleen Swed
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for firefighters continues to rise across the nation, with a projected growth of 5% from 2018-2028. While that projection falls in line with averages for other occupations, aspiring firefighters in New York can expect an even more promising outlook. Projections Central expects a 9.1% growth in demand from 2016-2026, a number that nearly doubles the national projections.

This page provides detailed information on the various firefighter requirements in New York, including local variations. Prospective students can also take a closer look at occupational outlook and salary projections for firefighters in New York, find answers to frequently asked questions, explore academic programs in fire science, and consult resources for firefighters in New York.

Firefighter Requirements in New York

In New York, fire departments with more than six full-time firefighters must hire personnel according to the state's minimum standards for firefighter hopefuls. Local jurisdictions can expand according to their needs. New York requires new firefighters to obtain certification by completing one of the prescribed courses, with options like basic firefighter training, initial fire attack, and hazardous materials first responder operations.

Firefighters in the state must renew their certification by completing 100 hours of continuing education every year.

In addition to state requirements, local jurisdictions maintain their own firefighter requirements in New York. Buffalo requires a high school diploma or equivalent, while New York City requires 15 college credit hours, military experience, or six months of work experience. Cortland requires a civil service exam, whereas Albany and New York City administer their own written tests. Age requirements also vary. In New York City, firefighter recruits must be between the ages of 21 and 29 (with some exceptions), while applicants in Buffalo must be 19, with no age cap.

Becoming a Firefighter in New York: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for New York?

    For departments employing more than six full-time firefighters, all career firefighters must obtain certification through the following courses: firefighting essentials or basic firefighter training and initial fire attack or intermediate firefighting and hazardous materials first responder operations.

  • Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?

    Many departments do not require emergency medical technician (EMT) training for firefighters. In New York City, firefighters must obtain a certified first responder with a defibrillation certificate (CFR-D) before their probationary period ends.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in New York?

    Written tests vary by location, though they tend to share similarities. In New York City, the test includes questions in reading, listening, problem-solving, and math.

  • What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?

    Firefighters must maintain good physical condition to adequately perform their jobs, and most hiring departments require candidates to pass a physical fitness or agility test to qualify.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in New York?

    The New York Wildfire and Incident Management Academy (NYWIMA) trains firefighters in New York specifically for wildland fire and disaster response.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in New York?

    Some fire departments offer positions as soon as a candidate obtains a high school or GED diploma, and they may recruit as soon as a candidate completes required training. Since New York City requires some college credit or experience, preparation may take longer for those wishing to work there.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in New York

Aspiring and in-service firefighters may seek to fulfill New York firefighter requirements by enrolling in an academic program leading to a certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree. Some departments, such as New York City's, even require firefighter recruits to hold some college credit. Earning a degree can provide a potential path toward New York firefighter certification.

Because every department expects different preparation from their firefighters, prospective students should carefully research local requirements and compare their career goals with program outcomes before enrolling. The list below offers a few examples of firefighter courses in New York.

SUNY Broome Community College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology
Program Description Designed for completion within two years of full-time study, SUNY Broome's 60.5 to 62.5-credit associate degree requires courses such as fire prevention and protection, firefighting tactics and strategy, legal aspects of the fire service, fire service hydraulics, and general education requirements.

Monroe Community College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology
Program Description Designed to prepare students for careers as firefighters, forest firefighters, fire inspectors, and other emergency services responders, MCC's associate degree program requires 60-64 credits in fire behavior and combustion, fire prevention and inspection, fire investigation, fire service instruction, and fire service hydraulics.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Program Name Bachelor of Science in Fire Science
Program Description Designed to prepare students to analyze and solve issues of fire safety, John Jay offers a 120-credit bachelor's program. Coursework for the major requirements includes introductory fire science, fire service hydraulics, fire safety administration, fire dynamics, hazard identification and mitigation, and water-based fire suppression systems.

Fire Science Colleges in New York

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in New York

According to the BLS, New York employed 11,880 firefighters as of May 2018, landing the state in the top category in the nation for the most numerous firefighters. For the fourth most populous state in the country, however, that number gives New York a low location quotient in comparison to the national average, with 1.27 firefighting jobs for every 1,000 occupations.

New York's metropolitan region employed the second-highest number of urban firefighters in the same time period, though the numbers are larger because the area combines with New Jersey's Newark and Jersey City areas.

The BLS reports that pay rates in New York's metropolitan region also ranked among the highest in the country, with an annual mean wage of $78,840. Overall, New York firefighters earned an annual mean wage of $73,710 as of May 2018, making it the fourth-highest-paying state in the country for firefighters. Salaries can vary widely depending on the area, however, with Albany-Schenectady firefighters earning an annual mean wage of $57,410, and those in Utica-Rome bringing in $61,920.

National Average Salaries for Firefighters

0-12 Months

Entry Level

1-4 Years

Early Career

5-9 Years


10-19 Years



Source: PayScale

Firefighter Resources in New York

Firefighters in New York can take advantage of a wealth of resources offered by state agencies and professional organizations. Because the state sets minimum firefighter requirements in New York, governmental training opportunities and resources abound, and both aspiring and veteran firefighters can benefit from the educational offerings.

Professional organizations and unions also provide important services for firefighters in New York. Given the dangers that accompany firefighting, legislative advocacy plays a crucial role in improving conditions and ensuring that elected officials understand the issues firefighters face in the field. Professional organizations also provide educational opportunities, camaraderie, and community engagement.

New York Wildfire and Incident Management Academy

Established in 1997, the NYWIMA provides training opportunities in wildfire management and disaster response, offering courses such as basic wildland firefighter training, portable pumps and water use, and basic air operations.

New York State Fire Prevention and Control

New York State oversees minimum standards for firefighters. The organization's website offers information on certification requirements and courses for new and in-service firefighters.

New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association

A chapter of the International Association of Firefighters, the NYSPFFA serves its membership of career firefighters through insurance programs, consultations, pensions, educational resources, and legislative advocacy.

Firemen's Association of the State of New York

Formed for the purpose of training volunteer firefighters, FASNY offers membership benefits such as insurance and discounts, scholarships, training opportunities, and an annual conference.

New York State Association of Fire Chiefs

With a membership that extends beyond New York to include firefighters and emergency services leaders across the U.S. and Canada, NYSAFC offers leadership training, conferences, scholarships, awards, discounts, and multiple professional publications.