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Advance Your Career Beyond Fighting Fires with a Fire Science Degree You can advance your firefighting career to fire leadership or forensic science roles when you decide to pursue a fire science degree.

fire fighter fighting building fire

Earning your degree in fire science prepares you to do more than fight fires—you may only need your high school diploma and local or state training to join the fire department. But if you want to grow your career in the field and move beyond basic fire and emergency service skills into public safety, higher-level management such as fire chief, fire captain, or forensics roles, you’ll want to make a degree part of your career plan.

So what degrees can you earn in fire science, and what will you be able to do once you earn it? Here’s a quick-and-easy guide to each degree type, how long it generally takes to complete the program, and some common career paths once you’re holding your college certificate or diploma.

Associate Degree in Fire Science

Time to complete: Two years

The Associate’s in Fire Science offers a solid introduction to a wide variety of topics under the fire sciences umbrella, including fire dynamics, fire prevention methods, codes and standards, emergency services, fire investigation, risk reduction, and building construction. An associate’s degree helps qualifying firefighters prepare for management positions with the fire service.

There are associate’s degree programs online as well as traditional classroom-based programs.

Bachelor’s in Fire Science

Time to complete: Four years

You’ll want to make sure whichever program you enroll in follows the FESHE (Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education) national curriculum. You may also choose from different tracks, which can point your career into management and administration, emergency and disaster management, or investigations and forensics.

Your curriculum is commensurate with the track you choose. For example, in the administrative track, you’ll take basic fire science courses, such as fire dynamics, building codes, and basic fire prevention strategies, but your coursework will be honed to classes that will help you succeed as a manager and administrator. Some examples may include the following:

  • Leadership
  • Political and Legal Aspects of Fire Protection
  • Personnel Management
  • Fire Prevention Organization and Management
  • Crisis Management

Those choosing a forensics track will study many of the same courses—especially arson and fire investigation—but you will not need to specialize in forensic science during your bachelor’s program. You will want to go on and earn a master’s degree with a focus in forensic science if you choose to become a forensic science technician or forensic lab director. You can find online programs for bachelor’s degree programs in fire science.

Masters in Fire Science

With a master’s degree in fire science, you’ll be prepared to lead and work in the areas of public administration, homeland security, emergency management, forensics, and fire engineering. Some of the most common master’s-level specializations include:

Your studies will focus on strategies, communication skills for managers, community risk reduction, and financial management in order to help you become a more effective leader to your staff, as well as other officials with whom you will work on a daily basis.

You’ll find plenty of online courses available at the master’s level, so you can continue to work in your fire department or forensics lab career while you pursue your degree.