Fire Science Degree Programs in Texas | Firefighter Training
Written by Melissa Sartore Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Firefighters provide vital services, controlling and putting out fires while offering educational programs to individuals and communities. Becoming a firefighter in Texas requires fundamental knowledge of fire service and science alongside physical and technical skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% employment increase for firefighters across the country through 2028.
The Texas Commission on Fire Protection exercises oversight over firefighter requirements in Texas. Aspiring firefighters in Texas must be 18 years of age with a high school diploma or GED certificate. Candidates must complete a basic fire suppression program consisting of a minimum of 468 hours of training. In Texas, firefighters must also hold emergency medical technician credentials.
Once future firefighters pass a basic skills test and undergo a background check, they can apply for positions anywhere in the state. Local and municipal firefighting departments and agencies sometimes maintain additional requirements to comply with state mandates.
The relative uniformity of becoming a firefighter in Texas allows for a plethora of training and educational options. The Texas Commission on Fire Protection oversees basic fire suppression programs that prepare individuals for firefighter positions. Aspiring firefighters can enroll in basic fire suppression programs through many independent fire academies, colleges and universities, and municipal agencies in Texas. Training programs typically integrate classroom work with physical, practical training.
Once students complete a basic fire suppression program, they must pass a cumulative written exam and a performance skills test. All firefighters in Texas must complete the Department of State Health Services emergency care attendant program or the American Red Cross responder training. After completing these requirements, firefighting candidates undergo a background check before applying for a Texas firefighter certification.
Aside from state requirements, cities, counties, and other jurisdictions in Texas also maintain specific requirements for firefighters. In Carrollton, for example, firefighters must hold a bachelor's degree or at least 30 credit hours of college coursework in a fire-related discipline. Austin does not accept applicants over the age of 35 at the time they take the written exam for firefighting certification. Many programs in Texas, including the program at Tarrant County College, integrate more training hours than required by the state to establish sufficient competencies.
Becoming a Firefighter in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Texas?
Texas requires all firefighters to hold a certification through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. To earn a certificate, firefighters must undergo an approved basic fire suppression program, pass an exam, and earn accompanying emergency medical qualifications.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Firefighters in Texas must complete emergency medical technician coursework. Programs offered through the American Red Cross, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and educational institutions meet this requirement. Learners should make sure their chosen program prepares them to fulfill the requirements for the location in which they plan to work.
What is the test like for firefighters in Texas?
The firefighter test in Texas consists of a written exam and a physical ability assessment. The written exam covers the basic fire suppression course curriculum such as fireground operations, rescue, preparedness, and hazardous material management. Fire academies also administer the exams under guidelines set by the state.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
The physical ability test in Texas features exercises that simulate tasks firefighters regularly perform. Candidates must perform a sequence of eight events, including hose dragging, ladder raising, and stair climbing, within approximately 10 minutes.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Texas?
Federal agencies such as the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service exercise oversight over U.S. wildfire operations. To fight wildfires in Texas, individuals undergo physical tests and educational programs administered by the appropriate federal agency.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Texas?
An individual can become a firefighter in Texas in as few as five months. Future firefighters must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. The well-defined application process streamlines hiring for applicants with all of the required elements.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Texas
Texas offers numerous options to train future firefighters. Candidates must complete courses and programs approved by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The Commission offers a map and a list on its website featuring active, approved fire protection training facilities.
Aspiring firefighters hoping to work within a specific city or location should consider enrolling in a basic fire suppression program in that area. City fire departments and educational institutions alike offer programs in places like Austin, Houston, and Amarillo.
Students must also complete an approved emergency medical technician program, notably one offered through the Department of State Health Services or the American Red Cross.
This basic fire suppression program integrates online coursework and hands-on weekend training. Students complete the program in 18 weeks, spending 16-20 hours each week online while building practical competencies with teams of fellow firefighters in practical exercises.
This program offers 25 courses for firefighters at all stages of their careers. Individuals entering the firefighting profession can complete National Fire Academy courses to build competencies for the certification exam offered through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. Active firefighters have opportunities to complete coursework in fire instruction, aircraft rescue and firefighting, arson investigation, and related subsets of the field.
Accredited by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, TCC offers a basic firefighter program that leads to certification as a firefighter in Texas. Applicants must be 18 years of age with a high school diploma or GED certificate, hold a Texas driver's license, and hold an EMT credential. Active fire fighters who opt to take the program for continuing education receive priority enrollment.
Fire Science Colleges in Texas
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Texas
With over 29,000 firefighters, Texas employs the second largest number of firefighters in the U.S. Firefighters in Texas earn a mean wage of $52,520 as of May 2018, above the 2018 reported nationwide mean wage.
The projected 5% increase in firefighting positions, as indicated by the BLS, may offer firefighters in Texas continued employment opportunities. Texas also serves as home to the highest number of fire inspectors and investigators and the third-largest group of firefighting supervisors in the nation, indicating opportunities for advancement within the field. Fire inspectors and investigators earn annual median salaries over $63,500, more than $3,000 above the national median wage for the field.
The Texas Commission on Fire Protection offers a list of current job openings at town, city, and county departments throughout the state.
Professional organizations and government agencies provide firefighters in Texas with information on career opportunities, networking options, and continuing education. Resources for Texas firefighters offer many benefits, including updates about state fire control and prevention and opportunities to participate in advocacy.
Local, state, and federal resources keep firefighters informed on requirements and training options, and provide tips to maintain safe and effective practices. Texas firefighters can also access relevant construction, engineering, budget, and risk management information to help them build thriving careers as emergency service professionals.