Fire Science Degree Programs in North Carolina | Firefighter Training

Written by Melissa Sartore
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Firefighting in North Carolina is an in-demand occupation, with threats of fires emerging throughout the state. Across the country, firefighters should see a 5% occupational growth rate from 2018 through 2028, giving individuals with firefighting training and experience an opportunity for continued career opportunities.

To become a firefighter in North Carolina, individuals must meet requirements established by local municipalities and state agencies alike. Firefighters can work as volunteers or public employees. In North Carolina, all firefighters, regardless of category, must be at least 18 years old with a high school or GED diploma and a valid driver’s license.

Many firefighters earn degrees in fire science to hone their skills and build knowledge of how fires start, spread, and affect the landscape and population. They also learn to prevent the occurrence of fires. Firefighting professionals participate in emergency service training and take physical and written tests to prepare for the job.

Firefighter Requirements in North Carolina

Firefighter requirements in North Carolina include being 18 years old with a high school or GED diploma and a valid driver’s license. Beyond these, volunteer and paid firefighters need to meet standards set by towns, cities, counties, or comparable jurisdictions.

Becoming a firefighter in North Carolina requires a combination of physical ability and written competencies. To obtain a position as a firefighter, men and women complete a candidate physical ability test (CPAT), a standard assessment of physical skill and function. The CPAT covers eight events in 10 minutes and 20 seconds, which participants must complete in full firefighting gear. Firefighters must also demonstrate critical thinking, judgement and reasoning, mechanical aptitude, and spatial and directional orientation through a series of written exams.

In cities like Concord and Raleigh, North Carolina, firefighters must pass a written aptitude test, physical agility test, and background and reference checks. They must also participate in an interview before being hired. Locations such as Burlington, North Carolina, also require applicants to hold a North Carolina Emergency medical technician certification for consideration.

Certifications through the North Carolina Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal Fire and Rescue Commission prepare candidates for positions as firefighters. In North Carolina, individuals can earn certifications in subsets of the field, such as hazardous material handling, airport firefighting, and marine firefighting to meet the needs of specific locations in the state.

Becoming a Firefighter in North Carolina: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for North Carolina?

    There are no specific guidelines for training in North Carolina, though firefighters must be 18 years of age with a high school or GED diploma and a valid driver’s license. Additional requirements include a physical ability test and written examinations.

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

    Some firefighting positions in North Carolina require candidates to hold emergency medical training certification or related training. The Office of State Fire Marshal in North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission also offers extensive training and certification programs to develop and enhance firefighting skills and abilities.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in North Carolina?

    Firefighters in North Carolina complete written and physical tests. The written exams assess decision-making, spatial and directional orientation, critical thinking, and basic mathematics and vocabulary. The physical test includes eight exercises that mimic the duties of firefighters to assess overall ability and endurance.

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

    Firefighters in North Carolina need to be in good physical shape. The physical exam assesses ability when entering the field but firefighters need to maintain health and strength to carry out the duties of the job.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in North Carolina?

    Fighting wildfires in North Carolina is one option and the North Carolina Forest Service provides a training program for the task. Federal agencies oversee wildfire operations. The program in North Carolina trains rural fire departments to suppress and manage forest fires with assistance from a federal grant.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in North Carolina?

    How long it takes to become a firefighter in North Carolina depends on the individual. Firefighters must be 18 years of age, but they can complete coursework prior to that time and apply it to their certifications. The examination and interview processes also vary by location.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in North Carolina

Training requirements for firefighters vary by locality in North Carolina, but the Office of State Fire Marshal Fire and Rescue Commission offers courses and certifications to aspiring fire professionals. Individuals can pursue qualifications in fire instruction, hazardous material response, and fire investigation, among other aspects of the field. Cities like Raleigh and Burlington, North Carolina, house their own fire academies and rookie programs to prepare individuals with pre-professional and on-the-job training.

Colleges and universities in North Carolina also offer fire science and fire service programs that prepare firefighters for the profession. Academic programs coincide with requirements to earn North Carolina firefighter certifications while building knowledge and skills applicable to firefighting careers throughout the state.

Coastal Carolina Community College

Program Name Coastal Carolina Fire Academy
Program Description The Coastal Carolina Fire Academy covers the entire certification series for firefighters in North Carolina. The night and weekend program integrates online quizzes and requirements with three comprehensive written examinations. Practical skill assessment and physical testing accompanies written class components.

Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC)

Program Name Public Services Fire and Rescue Program
Program Description Fire and rescue courses at CVCC build fundamental knowledge of hazardous material management, driver operations, and firefighting skills. Classes introduce students to firefighting while allowing existing firefighters to continue their educations and build competencies in water, agricultural, trench, and wilderness rescue. CVCC also houses a fire academy, through which students can obtain firefighter plus hazardous materials awareness and operations and emergency medical technician credentials.

Fayetteville State University

Program Name Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Services Administration
Program Description Fayetteville State University offers a bachelor’s degree in fire and emergency services that builds knowledge of fire investigation, prevention, and management while simultaneously introducing students to political, legal, and administrative aspects of emergency services. Learners build critical thinking and problem-solving skills and participate in practical exercises to apply theoretical concepts.

Fire Science Colleges in North Carolina

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in North Carolina

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that firefighters will experience a 5% increase in occupations between 2018 and 2028. The continued need for firefighters allows for job growth and career opportunities in North Carolina, where firefighters earn an annual mean salary of $35,500. North Carolina employs nearly 15,000 firefighters, boasting the second-highest concentration of firefighting jobs in the nation.

Firefighters with additional training and experience can advance within the profession. Fire inspectors and investigators in the Piedmont, North Carolina area rank among the highest-paid in nonmetropolitan settings, earning more than $46,000 annually.

Cities and municipalities also work with volunteer firefighters. As individuals train and gain experience fighting fires, they prepare themselves to apply for fire academies and comparable training programs in anticipation of a paying job in the field.

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 North Carolina

Resources for firefighters in North Carolina prepare individuals for entry-level positions and to advance in the profession. With training and certification through state and local agencies, firefighters can work within a niche aspect of the profession or move into administrative and supervisory positions.

Professional associations and organizations for firefighters provide continuing education, networking, and mentorship opportunities with additional policy, news, and advocacy updates.

North Carolina Department of Insurance Office Of State Fire Marshal Fire and Rescue Commission

The OSMF in North Carolina provides information on certifications and training with resources for incident reporting, reports on policy updates, and lists of delivery agencies and instructors throughout the state. OSMF offers injury prevention programs, fire and rescue grant and rescue funding, and engineering and coding resources, as well.

International Association of Fire Fighters

The IAFF unites more than 320,000 firefighters and paramedics from around the United States and Canada through events, online education programs, and training opportunities. As an association dedicated to protect and lobby for fire and emergency service workers, the IAFF provides news and policy updates with specialized assistance offered through its Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery.

Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics of North Carolina

As an affiliate of the IAFF, the PFFPNC is the only statewide organization representing firefighters and paramedics in North Carolina. As an advocacy organization, PFFPNC actively lobbies on behalf of emergency service professional in Raleigh, North Carolina, holds fundraisers, and supports communities through a charitable fund.

International Association of Wildland Fire

The IAWF builds communication and provides leadership among wildland firefighting and resource management professionals. Tasked with facilitating scientific and technical knowledge, education, and professional networking, the IAWF offers issue updates, conference events, and publications to its members. These resources provide additional career, youth program, and fire ecology information for the public.

National Volunteer Fire Council

The NVFC represents volunteer firefighters and fellow emergency service personnel on a national level, focusing on health, safety, training, and support. The NVFC provides members with insurance policy resources, discounts on trainings and fire service products, and online training and networking opportunities.