Oregon’s diverse environment can sometimes present challenges to the firefighters and first responders that operate out of the state’s 300 fire stations. Firefighters work in large city departments, wildland fire agencies, and rural departments to protect the coast, large agricultural valleys, and metropolitan areas. Proper fire science education and training is necessary to become one of the 3,010 firefighters in Oregon. Those interested in a related career, such as paramedic/EMT, can also find a number of academic and career opportunities in the state.
Wages for fire science professionals in Oregon tend to be higher than the national averages, but can vary depending on an individual’s education, job performance, certification, and specific place of employment. Below are earnings for firefighters and related fire science careers at the entry, median, and advanced levels:
|Oregon Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Forest Fire Prevention
Colleges, universities, community colleges, fire academies and technical schools offer fire science training, as do online schools and some high schools. Traditional fire science training culminated in a certificate, but today there are numerous options available for those who want to take their education further, such as the associate or bachelor’s degree. Through online colleges students can explore master’s degrees in fire science or fire administration. Students of related fields such as forestry may even pursue a PhD to enter teaching or research professions.
Most of those who enter fire science with the intention of working as a firefighter or emergency services professional begin their career with the required EMT or paramedic certification. EMTs can enter the job with a certificate, but paramedics often need an associate degree. They can then move into the bachelor’s degree program in fire science or enter the profession after graduation, going through in-depth and intensive on-the-job training. The bachelor’s degree program offers specialization for aspiring firefighters and other emergency service professionals, such as programs in fire technology, fire prevention or emergency services.
Oregon residents have diverse colleges and universities across the state to choose from when they pursue a degree in fire science. In addition to the many online programs available to students in any state, Oregon boasts a long list of fire science options, for example:
Develop a strong work ethic. The young people in our Fire Explorer post that impress us the most are the ones who spend time at the station looking for tasks to do or opportunities to learn something new. When you take on a task, even as mundane as washing a staff vehicle, it's your opportunity to make yourself shine along with the car. Don't just wash the outside—vacuum the inside and dust the dash. It's things like that that make you the person we want working for us. We can teach you what you need to know to be a firefighter, but you bring your own attitude towards work.
In Oregon, the best thing you can have on your resume is a Paramedic certification, and that requires an associate degree. The vast majority of entry-level positions in this state are for firefighter/paramedics.
Nearly every fire service agency in Oregon provides EMS and that is what forms the majority of our run volume (in our case, nearly 85%). Lane Fire Authority is somewhat unique in that we are in the midst of many changes and we need our personnel to be willing to adapt to these changes.
Oregon obviously has a big investment in fire science education, and these schools offer a starting point for choosing a degree or certificate program. Below are just a few of the programs that aspiring firefighters, first responders and other fire professionals can find in Oregon.
Central Oregon Community College makes education accessible to working professionals with options such as online or hybrid course delivery.
Program Name: Structural Fire Science
Program Description: This applied associate degree program focuses on numerous aspects of fire science and how fires relate to structures. The program is accredited by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training and is a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This degree is intended to prepare students for certifications, including hazardous materials, NFPA firefighter, and operations and incident command. The program develops professional, communication, management, knowledge and technical skills in wide-ranging aspects of fire science.
Related studies include certificate programs for Fire Protection Technology, Fire Sprinkler Inspection Training, Emergency Medical Technician - Basic and Firefighter I. Associate degrees are available in emergency medical services and municipal fire protection. OSU even offers a PhD in Political Science with a Fire Administration Track, featuring classes such as community relations in environmental emergency management.
To learn more about this program at Central Oregon Community College, visit: http://www.cocc.edu/structural-fire-science/
Program Name: Fire Services Administration
Program Description: Part of the Colleges of Business and Education at Eastern Oregon University, the bachelor’s degree program in fire services administration targets students wishing to enter management, leadership and other administrative areas in the world of fire science and emergency services. Courses include information on fire sciences, management techniques, fire prevention and protection, codes and ordinances, budgeting, public relations and political foundations. The program can be completed as a hybrid educational experience or can be taken entirely online.
To learn more, start here: http://www.eou.edu/cobe/fsa/
Several years ago, the only way to get a fire science degree was to take advantage of the degrees offered through traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. That has changed in recent years with the addition of online-only or hybrid degree options. Offered through online-only schools, colleges, universities, technical schools and other institutions, these programs allow students to juggle their life and employment or family obligations, while completing classes at a time that is most convenient for them. Online education offers flexibility, the ability for those in rural areas of Oregon to earn their education, and other potential advantages. Students can choose an accredited program to make sure they are receiving a solid education, no matter the format in which it is delivered.
In many cases, online fire science colleges do require a hands-on element, and that can sometimes be obtained through “life credits” or "life experience." Those who are working in a fire department, emergency services or similar positions may be able to use their real-life training to meet requirements for courses involving participation. In some cases courses can be taken entirely online, for programs focused on academic classes instead of in-person attendance and physical activities. A good example of this is a fire science administration degree.