Careers in Fire Service

Utah Fire And Rescue AcademyOver the last two decades, careers in the fire service have changed drastically. Once considered a highly respected, yet low-tech blue collar career even by practitioners, the fire service has evolved. Today the profession is highly esteemed, highly technical and jobs are highly competitive.

Career paths in fire and emergency services can fall into a number of specialized categories. Structural firefighting, wildland firefighting, emergency medical services, technical rescue; fire prevention, emergency management and hazardous materials response are typical specialties within many municipal fire departments. State and federal agencies also perform many of these functions.

The process for getting hired varies among jurisdictions but usually involves a civil service test, a physical agility test and interviews. Usually the tests are mass events with sometimes hundreds of candidates. Since competition for these jobs is intense, application preparation is critical to doing well. Education, training and professional certifications can give a candidate the edge over the majority of candidates.

Many fire departments now require specific educational and certification qualifications before hiring and this trend is growing in response to tight budgets and a motivated body of applicants. Wildland fire agencies prefer those who have prior training and education but usually do not require these for seasonal workers. Nationally, the most common employment qualifications for structural fire departments are emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, Firefighter I certification or some amount of college coursework in the field. Those candidates with prior EMT experience and paramedic training often have a huge edge because of the cost savings for departments.

The fire and emergency services programs at Utah Valley University provide a unique and valuable resource to those who are serious about a career. Students seeking fire department jobs can receive an Associates of Applied Science along with the most sought after certifications: EMT; Firefighter I &II, Hazardous Materials First Responder; Paramedic and Wildland Firefighter.

For students who are looking for long term advancement in emergency services at the management level, the BS in Public Services Management is an innovative and highly focused program for adult learners and busy professionals. It is available to students worldwide through internet based distance learning.

UVU has been providing fire service training and education for 40 years and proof of quality is shown by the fact that UVU fire programs are accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the National Fire Service Professional Qualifications System.

For more information on how to prepare or advance in a well-paying, highly rewarding career in fire and emergency services contact an academic advisor at (801) 863-7700 or (888) 548-7816.