West Virginia’s 1,000 fire service professionals hold positions with 405 fire stations across the state, along with first-response personnel who are employed by professional ambulance companies or hospitals. In fact, many of the state’s firefighting personnel are qualified to perform double-duty as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. In addition to first responders, the state also employs fire inspectors to assess the overall safety of buildings and facilities, and investigators to determine the cause of fires and related incidents.
Salaries for fire supervisors, firefighters, investigators, and inspectors in West Virginia can vary. Here are recent salaries for three fire science careers in the state:
|West Virginia Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Fire Service Supervisors
Traditionally, new fire recruits are hired into a training academy after going through a competitive screening process. Earning a degree or certificate in fire science can boost one’s chances of success through that process. Schools across the state offer degrees at all levels, giving students in West Virginia a range of schools to choose from. West Virginia University offers professional development and additional training for fire professionals, including fire brigade training, aircraft rescue firefighting, mobile fire training and more.
For those new to the field, a certificate program offers basic knowledge of fire science and fire safety to professionals working in other fields who already hold a bachelor’s degree. An associate degree lays the foundation for students looking to get a foot in the door or continue their education to earn a bachelor’s. Most master’s programs are designed for experienced fire science professionals, allowing them to further their career through specialized training and upward mobility.
Education and training is the most important part of the job. There are no experts in the fire service due to the ever-changing fluid profession we are in.
Take every class that you are able to, but also formalize your education. If you want to advance, it is not just about fire—you need to have some management skills as well.
A college that helps with career planning can be an asset to new and prospective fire science students.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Management
Program Description: While American Public University offers an associate degree in fire science, this bachelor’s degree focuses on administrative and operative functions that fire professionals need to develop their careers. Students also learn about leadership and management techniques, as it relates to fire service. Decision-making, reasoning and problem-solving are all skills that students develop within this program. Graduates are ready for a career in firefighting or as fire investigators and APU offers assistance in finding appropriate internships and job placement.
Some students choose to major in a related discipline, but obtain a certificate in fire science. This program offers that option.
Program Name: Online Undergraduate Certificate in Fire Science
Program Description: Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree can concurrently earn a certificate in fire science. The career-focused certificate is helpful for professionals wanting to go into fire service, public safety and emergency management. The certificate or other related degree from American Military University gives students the knowledge needed to be successful in their careers and can help graduates move into management roles within their organization. Students learn cutting-edge fire science principles and methods while studying tactical fire operations, fire safety, firefighting leadership and management and community fire issues.
Online fire science programs are a convenient and effective option for current and prospective professionals in the field. An online program allows the student to continue to work and attend to personal responsibilities while earning a degree from the convenience of home. Students view lectures via Skype or Blackboard and communicate with instructors and peers via online chat and email. Online programs are often formatted in an asynchronous manner, allowing students to complete classes on their own time. In a fire science program, students may need to visit campus or arrange to visit a partnering fire department or facility to complete hands-on and physical requirements. This gives students access to real-world experience while still having the convenience of an online program.