Ohio is committed to the education and employment of those interested in fire science. Home to the fourth-largest cadre of firefighters in the U.S., Ohio has more than 17,500 employed at 1,100 fire stations across the state. Some 10,000 paramedics and EMTs also hold jobs in Ohio, along with 270 fire inspectors and investigators. Students can choose among two and four-year community colleges and universities to complete fire science certificates, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree to qualify for employment or departmental promotions.
The annual salaries for Ohio firefighters, inspectors and other first responders vary based on factors including, educational attainment, job experience, and location. The following chart shows salaries for Ohio fire service professionals at the 10th percentile, 50th percentile, and 90th percentile:
Ohio Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Fire Service Supervisors
Fire science certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees are offered at many of Ohio’s community colleges and four-year universities. Training beyond Firefighter and EMT certification enhances first responders’ knowledge and skills and can also boost job prospects. Case in point: Most fire departments in Ohio require at least an associate degree for promotion to officer.
First responders in Ohio benefit from the option of several two- and four-year schools that have earned the National Fire Academy’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) Recognition certificate. FESHE recognition is an acknowledgement that a particular emergency services degree program meets national standards of excellence for professional development education. Four community colleges in Ohio offer FESHE-recognized fire science associate degree programs. A hallmark of these programs is their six standardized core courses:
In addition, two Ohio universities offer FESHE-recognized fire science bachelor’s degree programs. The six core bachelor’s-level courses are:
Unlike smaller states, Ohio has no shortage of colleges and universities offering fire science certificate and degree programs. These schools provide firefighters and other first responders with credentials to facilitate entry and advancement in a career in the state:
Obtain your state credentials. This makes you more marketable and prepares you for taking employment entrance exams and testing.
By obtaining your state credentials (FF2 and Paramedic), you are well on your way to completing an associate degree at most state community colleges. This education also prepares you for participating in promotional testing, which puts you half way to a bachelor's degree so you can begin work on that goal. Many firefighters, once hired, get caught up in the technical aspects of the job, and while that’s all very important, you should explore the human resource aspects as well, if you want to advance.
Most of the calls we respond to are EMS related. The number of fires in our community has consistently decreased over the last fifteen years. Becoming a firefighter and expecting that you will be putting out a lot of fire is becoming more unrealistic. You must have other skills such as EMS, inspection and community education. We no longer sit in the firehouse waiting for a call. Firefighters must also be out in the public eye as much as possible to remind residents that they provide important public services other than emergency response.
*Denotes FESHE recognition
The spotlight sections below focus on individual colleges and universities in Ohio that offer fire science degrees.
Program Name: EMS/Fire Science
Program Description: Columbus State Community College’s associate of technical studies degree in EMS/fire science is a popular degree in Central Ohio, where many fire departments require both an EMS and firefighting credential. The two-year degree combines EMS and firefighting certifications as well as general education requirements and technical electives.
Courses include Paramedic I, II and III; Fire Behavior & Combustion; EMS Rescue Courses; and more. Prerequisites for EMS, fire and paramedic courses in the associate degree program include EMT certification, Firefighter II certification and a paramedic preparation course. Courses to prepare for these certifications are also available at the college.
For more information, visit the Columbus State EMS/Fire Science program page: http://www.cscc.edu/academics/departments/ems-fire/programs.shtml
Bowling Green State University offers an online degree completion program for fire service managers and leaders.
Program Name: Fire Administration
Program Description: The online bachelor's degree in fire administration at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is one of a few such programs in the country. Designed with chief officers in mind, the degree completion program emphasizes legal aspects of fire and emergency management, public health, interagency coordination of large-scale events, strategic planning, fiscal responsibility, applied research, analysis, communication skills and critical thinking. The degree meets a demand for a job-specific four-year degree in fire administration, as well as fire service professionals’ need to advance their careers.
Prerequisites for the cohort-based program include an applied or technical associate degree or equivalent as well as related work experience. There is no residency requirement, and there are no scheduled online meeting times. Most students enroll on a part-time basis and finish the degree in two to three years, depending on their availability.
Read about BGSU’s online degree completion program in fire administration: www.bgsu.edu/fiad
Online fire science education in Ohio is available to emergency services providers for the purposes of recertification as well as associate and bachelor’s degree attainment. Cleveland State University, for example, offers an online continuing education program as a result of changes to the Ohio Revised Code (ORC-4765) that now require emergency services providers to complete continuing education credits for recertification. Online courses include Firefighter I and II, Fire Safety Inspector, Fire/EMS Instructor, Emergency Medical Service (Basic EMT and Paramedic), Hazardous Materials, and Occupational Safety and Health. For recertification as well as degree-level courses, it’s important to note that fire science students are working professionals who have already completed in-person training. The knowledge gained in the online classroom supplements the hands-on training acquired from initial emergency services certification as well as experience earned on the job.