Vermont employs 280 firefighters and first-line supervisors and 570 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. The relatively low employment numbers suggests that proper education and training is necessary to join this network of highly skilled professionals. The state fire academy, as well as community and technical colleges and online schools offer degrees and certificates to prepare those interested in a fire science career.
Annual earnings of Vermont firefighters, investigators and inspectors, and supervisors are comparable to the national average. Below are earnings for the state’s firefighters and supervisors at the entry, median, and advanced levels:
|Vermont Fire Service Careers
|Fire Service Supervisors
Firefighters in Vermont are required to earn two certifications, Firefighter I and Firefighter II. Typically, students complete preparation courses held by the Vermont Fire Academy or another approved institution such as Vermont Technical College. They then take tests to earn the certifications. However, prospective firefighters also have the option to take “challenge” exams, which are designed for individuals who did not take an approved preparation course, but have obtained the necessary training through other means. There is also an alternate “joint” test for Firefighter I and II certification, for those students who took a single class that prepares for both certifications, rather than two separate classes. The Vermont Fire Academy holds certification preparation courses at fire houses across the state. Students interested in a list of available training programs can also contact the Vermont Fire Service Training Council (VFSTC), which administers training programs for firefighters.
While not required for firefighters in Vermont, many students choose to earn an associate degree in a relevant field with the goal of furthering their careers. Degrees in fire sciences and emergency management can prepare students to become fire investigators, emergency management professionals and community leaders. Several colleges in Vermont offer relevant two-year degrees, such as Vermont Technical College’s fire sciences program and the Community College of Vermont’s emergency management program. EMT and paramedic training courses are held in many colleges in the state as well, such as the University of Vermont.
Various Vermont institutions offer programs related to fire science and emergency services, for example:
Vermont Technical College (Vermont Tech) is a public college with multiple campuses across the state offering education in technology and the applied sciences, including an associate degree program in fire science.
Program Name: Fire Science
Program Description: Part of the Vermont State College system, Vermont Tech has a wide range of career training options. Its fire science program is one of the few in the state that offers an associate degree tailored to careers in firefighting and fire protection services. Recommended for students with a strong foundation in math and science, the two-year program includes classes such as the history and impact of fire, fire service leadership, firefighting strategies and tactics, and hazardous materials. It is designed to prepare students for certification in firefighting and emergency medicine, with an emphasis on leadership skills and community service.
Scholarships may be available for students in the fire sciences program, and graduates could go on to be employed in different positions in Vermont: firefighters; EMTs; fire, police and ambulance dispatchers; fire suppression and alarm system installers and technicians; and fire inspectors and investigators (after additional certification).
To learn more, visit: http://www.vtc.edu/interior.php/pid/4/sid/26/tid/565.
The Community College of Vermont serves over 7,000 students across the state with career-oriented education and fully online programs such as the associate degree in emergency management.
Program Name: Emergency Management
Program Description: Community College of Vermont (CCV) describes its two-year emergency management program as the ideal starting point for students looking to enter into the homeland security and emergency management field. CCV’s associate emergency management degree could be the first step in beginning careers such as risk management coordinator or emergency management planner. Students learn about making critical decisions in times of crisis, and managing community resources to respond effectively to disasters. Another class examines the National Incident Management System.
This degree program can be completed fully online, and students with a professional background in emergency management may be able to use an Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) process to translate their experience into credit hours. Program requirements incorporate general education classes and program-focused courses, with a minimum of 60 credits earned.
For more information on CCV’s Emergency Management program, visit: http://catalog.ccv.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=4&poid=104&returnto=652
Fire science training is primarily done in person due to the physical nature of the subject matter. However, certain elements of training for firefighters and emergency service personnel can be provided through distance learning. Conceptual topics such as disaster management, homeland security and leadership can be taught in online classes. The Vermont Fire Academy offers several free training modules and downloadable resources on topics such as response to traffic incidents and response to utility emergencies. These free materials do not translate to earned credit hours or certifications, but still provide much-needed training for Vermont’s students and professionals in the fire sciences. Vermont Tech also offers free online resources on the web/podcast page, with informative videos on sprinkler systems and alarm systems. For those looking for a formal education in a related field, CCV’s emergency management associate degree can be earned through exclusively online classes.