Fire Science Degree Programs in South Dakota | Firefighter Training

Written by Timothy Levin
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Individuals seeking rewarding, challenging, and exciting careers after high school should strongly consider becoming firefighters. Fire protection workers take measures to prevent and suppress fires in homes, commercial buildings, and forests. They also serve their communities by responding to medical emergencies and other hazardous situations.

Now may be the ideal time to think about becoming a firefighter in South Dakota, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% increase in firefighting jobs across the country over the next several years.

Nearly 18,000 new firefighting jobs should enter the U.S. economy from 2018-2028, and South Dakota residents interested in pursuing those roles can learn how to do so on this page. This guide explores the major aspects of becoming a firefighter, including training expectations, academic programs, and firefighter requirements in South Dakota.

Firefighter Requirements in South Dakota

Firefighter requirements in South Carolina vary by local jurisdiction. Most departments in South Carolina set a minimum age of 18 and require candidates to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Requirements to become a firefighter typically vary among local jurisdictions. Aspiring firefighters in South Dakota must carefully research the hiring process and requirements in the particular county, city, or town where they plan to work. Many hiring expectations are similar across the state, but each fire department determines its own requirements. Read on to learn about firefighter requirements in some South Dakota fire departments.

In Sioux Falls, firefighters must be between 21 and 44 years old. They must annually pass the individual physical ability test. Their vision must be correctable to at least 20/30, and they must qualify to earn emergency medical technician (EMT) certification at the state or national level within one year of being hired. Applicants who meet minimum qualification requirements may sign up for the entrance examination, which is held biennially.

Firefighters in Aberdeen must live within 15 miles of City Hall. They must be 18 years old and hold a high school or GED diploma. They also need to complete an EMT program within 12 weeks. As in most fire departments, applicants must pass a written test, background check, physical fitness exam, and interview.

Becoming a Firefighter in South Dakota: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for South Dakota?

    Each fire department in South Dakota enforces its own training requirements. Some departments operate their own training academies. Additionally, the State Fire Service Training Program coordinates firefighter training courses.

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

    Firefighters across the country generally must train to perform emergency medical services. In South Dakota, firefighters often must obtain EMT certification through the state or the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

  • What is the test like for firefighters in South Dakota?

    There is no single exam that all firefighters in South Dakota must pass, but fire departments generally require a written exam and an oral interview. Some departments require firefighters to pass a civil service exam.

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

    Firefighters must maintain excellent physical condition. Most departments only hire recruits who do not smoke tobacco products. Candidates must also pass a rigorous physical exam to begin working.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in South Dakota?

    Firefighters in certain South Dakota departments may need to fight wildfires. The state's Wildland Fire Division also hires workers to fight wildfires. Wildland firefighters need additional training that follows standards set by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in South Dakota?

    The time it takes to become a firefighter in South Dakota depends on several factors. For example, you may need to wait until a position opens up or complete additional training before applying.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in South Dakota

Individuals looking to become firefighters can choose from a variety of educational programs. Aspiring firefighters typically need to enroll in one of the many firefighting schools in South Dakota. These academies combine training exercises, physical fitness programs, and traditional classroom work to prepare new recruits for the field.

Firefighters may also need to attend a community college or university program to gain EMT certification. Firefighters may also benefit from an associate or bachelor's degree in a field like fire science or fire administration. Remember to look up local hiring regulations before enrolling in firefighter courses in South Dakota.

Western Dakota Tech

Program Name Emergency Medical Technician Certificate
Program Description Western Dakota Tech's EMT program prepares students to take the NREMT exam. The program's curriculum also follows guidelines set by the Department of Transportation. Students can complete extra courses to qualify for the paramedic certification exam. They explore both life-threatening and non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

Riverland Community College

Program Name Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Technology
Program Description This program covers both technical and administrative topics, preparing graduates for a variety of entry-level fire science positions. Graduates may pursue NREMT, firefighter I and II, fire instructor I, or fire officer I certification. The 60-credit program explores subjects including fire prevention, stress management, vehicle extrication, and hazardous materials operations.

University of Sioux Falls

Program Name Bachelor of Science in Paramedic Technology
Program Description Graduates of this program can pursue paramedic certification. Students learn to respond to emergencies, perform medical services, and transport the sick or injured to hospitals. Core courses in the 128-credit program focus on topics like biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. Elective options explore subjects such as organic chemistry and human biology.

Fire Science Colleges in South Dakota

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in South Dakota

The BLS projects positive job growth for firefighters in South Dakota over the next several years. According to Projections Central, firefighters in the state will experience a 3.2% increase in job opportunities, close to the 5% growth rate the agency projects for firefighters nationwide. In the short term, from 2018-2020, Projections Central forecasts a 1.6% increase in firefighting positions in South Dakota.

By studying the job growth rate for firefighters in various states, you can determine the areas most likely to have ample job openings. You can also compare firefighter salaries across the country to figure out where you might earn the most. The median firefighter salary in South Dakota is $40,470 per year, about $9,000 less than the national median for the occupation. Firefighters earning in the 90th percentile for the state take home at least $69,790 yearly.

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 South Dakota

All firefighters -- including new hires and experienced fire chiefs -- should take advantage of the many resources available to them. Government bodies keep firefighters informed about the fire problem across the U.S. and in specific areas. For instance, through the U.S. Fire Administration, firefighters can access data and research on national fire-related issues.

State-specific agencies, such as South Dakota's Department of Agriculture, inform fire protection personnel on local fire prevention programs, training requirements, and other public safety concerns.

Professional associations enable firefighters to meet each other, discuss the problems they face, and strive for better pay. Learn more about some professional associations and other resources below.

South Dakota Firefighters Association

This organization aims to promote firefighter training and ensure public safety. It offers scholarships and publishes The South Dakota Firefighter, a monthly print publication.

Sioux Falls Firefighters Association

This local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) offers news updates, scholarships, and meetings. It also boasts information on health and safety issues such as high blood pressure and heart problems.

International Association of Fire Fighters

This union joins together over 320,000 paramedics and firefighters. Its online learning center offers courses on hazardous materials, code awareness, and behavioral health. Other member benefits include a leadership training summit.

U.S. Fire Administration

This agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, protects the public by supporting fire departments and emergency medical services. Firefighters can access training opportunities, news updates, research bulletins, and in-depth reports.

South Dakota Department of Agriculture Wildland Fire Division

Through this government site, firefighters can learn about wildland fire issues and protocols in the state. The site covers training requirements, fire prevention and suppression operations, and permit information.