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How to Advance Your Career in Fire Service

3 Min Read

For a highly competitive career such as fire service, ongoing training and education are the primary ways to get ahead. The career outlook for firefighters and leadership positions is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the industry will grow 5% by 2024.1 With a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree, professional firefighters learn skills and gain qualifications that substantially increase their prospects in the firefighting profession.

Careers in Firefighting

There are several advanced career opportunities available under the fire and emergency services umbrella such as:

  • Fire Inspector: Fire inspectors examine buildings, projects, alarms, systems, and more to ensure safety compliance
  • Fire Chief: Fire chiefs work collaboratively with other officials and public safety agencies to create policies and procedures; develop departmental goals; evaluate performance and advancement; manage departmental budget, and more
  • Emergency Manager: Emergency managers conduct equipment and facilities inspections; conduct risk assessments; compile, analyze, and present data related to safety and emergency systems; and collaborate with other public service entities
  • Training Officer: Training officers plan safety programs, supervise safety training, ensure training regulations, maintain training records, conduct loss prevention, coordinate training activities, and so forth

Skills needed to be a Firefighter

Similar leadership positions may appear under different titles such as district manager, fire captain, lieutenant, training officer, or executive officer. All of these firefighter careers require certain skillsets, including:

  • Management and leadership skills: Ability to design and coordinate programs, manage groups of individuals, work collaboratively with other departments, and be persuasive
  • Communication skills: Ability to communicate in multiple mediums (written and oral), listen to others, and demonstrate sensitivity in communicating with others
  • Problem-solving skills: Ability to analyze and think critically to identify problems, foresee outcomes, and design and implement viable solutions
  • Training skills: Ability to determine a need for training, design training programs, and oversee training that is in compliance with fire safety requirements

Depending on the specific career in firefighting, additional required skills may include:

  • Budget management
  • Grant writing
  • Program design

In addition to these skills, most advanced firefighter careers require years of experience and some form of higher education.

Best Degrees for Firefighters

A higher education specializing in fire science, public administration, emergency management, finance, human resources or public health, can make a candidate more desirable for advanced roles like a fire chief or emergency manager. A MPA degree with a concentration in Fire and Emergency Services will provide firefighters looking to advance with the degree qualifications as well as the skills needed. Specifically, coursework focuses on:

  • Executive leadership
  • Strategic planning
  • Fiscal policy
  • Public policy
  • Emergency management

Anna Maria College’s MPA degree program can be completed online in as little as two years. Given that the culture of leadership positions in fire and emergency services values a blend of educational and professional experience, the competitive edge provided by exceeding educational requirements with a master’s degree in the widely-desired concentration of public management cannot be overstated.

For more information on our online MPA degree, speak with one of our admissions advisers at 877-265-3201 or request information.



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