Fire Science Degree Programs in Wisconsin | Firefighter Training
Written by Timothy Levin Last Updated: Feb 11, 2020
If you aspire to a career path with a healthy growth rate and above-average salaries, consider becoming a firefighter in Wisconsin. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% growth in firefighting jobs from 2018-2028, leading to almost 18,000 new jobs across the country. Firefighters earn an annual median income of close to $50,000, over $10,000 more than the overall median income in the U.S.
In addition, becoming a firefighter can lead to an immensely rewarding career. Firefighters risk their lives to suppress housefires, battle wildfires, and respond to medical emergencies. They undergo intense training and fill a crucial role in their communities.
This guide explores firefighter requirements, training programs, fire science degrees, and firefighter salaries; it also directs you to further resources on how to become a firefighter in Wisconsin.
Generally, individual fire departments determine the recruitment process and minimum expectations for their new recruits. You should carefully research firefighter requirements in Wisconsin to determine the qualifications for your specific city, county, or town. While many fire departments across Wisconsin feature somewhat similar expectations, localities may enforce some unique requirements.
For example, to become a firefighter in Milwaukee, you must be 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or GED certificate, and hold a valid driver's license. Candidates submit an application and take a written exam to be placed on an eligibility list. The best candidates then proceed to the Candidate Physical Ability Test and other evaluations. Successful applicants must become certified emergency medical technicians (EMT) before starting a 16-week training academy.
In Appleton, the basic firefighter requirements include a minimum of 60 college credits from an accredited university, technical school, or college. Madison's fire department recruits new firefighters approximately every two years. Applicants first take a video-based multiple-choice test on mechanical aptitude, reading, math, and human relations. Candidates must complete three interviews before passing a physical fitness test. Candidates who pass a medical exam and background check begin their employment with a 20-week recruit academy program.
Becoming a Firefighter in Wisconsin: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, the training you must complete depends on which fire department hires you. Attending a department's fire academy, the final step of the recruitment process, occurs after the hiring of a new firefighter.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Firefighters generally aid in the response to medical emergencies, meaning they must possess skills in emergency medical services. Departments generally require EMT certification, and some departments offer EMT training as part of their firefighter academies.
What is the test like for firefighters in Wisconsin?
Fire departments in Wisconsin decide independently how to evaluate new applicants through written exams and interviews. Written tests evaluate candidates' basic aptitude for firefighting, and also cover areas such as reading comprehension and basic math.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters in any state need to stay in excellent physical shape to do their jobs effectively. To become a firefighter in Wisconsin, you must typically pass a physical fitness exam and be a non-smoker.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources hires both full-time and seasonal wildland firefighters. These recruits must meet state physical fitness requirements, and may need to complete training according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's standards.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Wisconsin?
The time investment to start working as a firefighter in Wisconsin depends on your own qualifications and your fire department's hiring practices. For instance, some departments only hire every couple of years, and some require applicants to complete some college coursework prior to applying.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Wisconsin
Fire departments often offer their own training programs called recruit academies or training academies. Through these firefighter schools in Wisconsin, firefighters explore key topics such as common equipment and fire suppression strategy. They typically participate in drills, fitness programs, and classroom activities.
Some fire academies in Wisconsin train firefighters to become EMTs, but aspiring firefighters may need to seek medical training through a community college or university program. Future firefighters may also pursue a degree in fire science to acquire additional knowledge and skills. Be sure to research your fire department's training expectations and programs before applying to any firefighter courses in Wisconsin.
This bachelor's program prepares students for administrative roles in emergency management by building their skills in communication, critical thinking, leadership, and management. Coursework covers public personnel management, fire and emergency services leadership, community risk reduction, and fire prevention. Students also complete 41 credits of general education classes.
Applicants to this program must hold EMT and fire II certification. The program, which students can complete on campus or online, helps volunteer and career firefighters develop their careers and secure promotions. Full-time learners complete the curriculum in four semesters, taking classes on topics such as building construction, hazardous materials chemistry, and fire investigation.
Students who complete this program with at least a C average may take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification examination, a requirement for EMT certification in Wisconsin. The program trains students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, pathophysiological assessment, and incident response.
Fire Science Colleges in Wisconsin
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Wisconsin
According to the BLS, Wisconsin boasts a high concentration of firefighters, with approximately 9,450 firefighters working in the state as of 2018. The BLS projects that this figure will grow over the long term. Projections Central also expects an approximately 6% increase in firefighting jobs in Wisconsin in the coming years, beating out the overall job growth rate for firefighters in the U.S.
In terms of income, Wisconsin's fire protection workers earn a mean annual salary of $40,310. In Illinois, Wisconsin's neighbor to the south, firefighters earn a mean income of $56,710 per year. However, firefighter salaries in Wisconsin depend heavily on work experience and a firefighter's location within the state. Firefighters working in the Milwaukee metro area typically earn around $50,000 per year, while 10% of Wisconsin's firefighters take home $66,330 or more.
Firefighters looking to succeed in their jobs, meet one another, and learn about trends in firefighting should take advantage of resources such as unions and government agencies. Unions, whether they operate at the state, local, or international level, help firefighters organize, network, demand better benefits, and bargain collectively. Unions sometimes offer professional development and training opportunities in the form of conferences, online classes, and in-person sessions.
Government agencies help firefighters stay informed about official codes, regulations, and procedures. Government bodies also coordinate training programs and publish reports on fire-related issues.