Firefighters aren’t rich. They’re incredibly brave, dedicated, and loyal, but they are not rich. In many areas, they’re volunteers. However, as firefighting and fire protection services have become more complex – from new technologies to organizational complexities in growing cities – firefighting has become more professionalized. Many cities now require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level firefighters, and even in departments that are staffed by volunteers, administrative positions tend to need a college degree to apply.
So back to the money – firefighters aren’t rich, but the pressure to earn a college degree means that working professionals in the field need to find programs that get them the credentials they need without putting them in debt. That’s why Bachelor’s Degree Center has ranked the Most Affordable Fire Science Degree Bachelor Programs for working adults who have an associate’s degree or other credits. Online programs provide flexible, convenient ways for firefighters to earn their degree and advance in their career, but affordable programs keep tuition costs reasonable and help professionals make the most of their degree.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Most Affordable Online Fire Science Bachelor’s Programs
Like all Bachelor’s Degree Center rankings, our ranking of the Most Affordable Fire Science Bachelor’s programs began strictly with accredited, reputable programs offering hybrid and online degrees. For putting the most affordable ranking in order, however, only one factor really matters: cost. Programs are in order of tuition rate, from current IPEDS data, beginning with the least expensive.
1. East Georgia State College
East Georgia State College offers low-cost BS in Fire & Emergency Services Administration degree program that can be earned entirely online. EGSC’s baccalaureate level online fire administration degree is accredited by FESHE, the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education initiative set forth by the federal government’s Fire Administration. Coursework for the major’s 60 credit units includes Fire Research, Disaster Planning, Public Service, Fire Investigation, a capstone project, and a practicum.
East Georgia State College is a member school of the University of Georgia system and was established in 1973. Through EGSC’s three rural campuses (Swainsboro, Augusta, and Statesboro), the school serves residents along Georgia’s coastal plains and is home to more than 3,100 students. Speakers of note who have spoken at East Georgia State College include Maya Angelo, President James Carter, Roslyn Carter, and a past UN ambassador Andrew Young.
Degree: BA in Fire and Emergency Services Administration
2. Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State University offers an online BS in Fire & Emergency Services Administration degree program that is recognized among the most affordable online fire science degrees. The Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) initiative and the Fire & Emergency Services Higher Education organization have awarded Fayetteville State University its accreditation certificate. Fayetteville State University is among the top-ranked online and affordable fire science program in the nation.
Fayetteville State University is a historically black university (HBCU) that was established in 1867. FSU holds the distinction as being a member school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the University of North Carolina System. Fayetteville State University offers nearly 80 undergraduate/graduate degree programs to its 6,000+-student population. Fayetteville State University is the 2nd Oldest state-funded institution of higher education in the state of North Carolina.
Degree: BS in Fire and Emergency Services Administration
3. Utah Valley University
Utah Valley University offers an affordable BS in Emergency Services Administration degree program that can be completed entirely online. The Fire Service Accreditation Congress (FSAC) accredits Utah Valley University at a national level. UVU’s fire science bachelor’s degree program offers students two academic concentration s from which to choose — Emergency Care or Emergency Management. Coursework includes Disaster Management, Master Planning, Politics & Regulation, Humanitarian Relief, a capstone and senior research project, to name a few.
Utah Valley University was chartered in 1941 as a vocation school. The school’s six campuses are home to nearly 40,000 students studying degrees offered in the Arts, Education, Business, Health & Public Service, Social Sciences, and Engineering & Technology. Utah Valley University is currently Utah’s largest institution of higher education. The school is home to one of the premier collegiate ballroom programs in the country.
Degree: BS in Emergency Services Administration
4. St Petersburg College
The School of Public Safety, Public Safety, Public Policy & Legal Studies offers St Petersburg College’s affordable Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree program in Public Safety Administration. Students graduate prepared for rewarding careers in fire services, emergency administration, law enforcement or emergency medical services, among others. Students must complete 60 credit units of classes directly related to the discipline of fire science, and coursework can be completed entirely online.
St Petersburg College is a member school of the Florida College System that was established in 1927. The school operates with eleven campuses in St. Petersburg, Largo, Clearwater, Seminole, Tarpon Springs, and Pinellas Park. SPC currently operates with 11 campuses across central Florida in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and Pinellas Park. St. Petersburg College partners with the Florida National Guard and the multi-jurisdictional Counter-Drug Task Force Training initiative.
Degree: BAS in Public Safety Administration – Fire Science
5. Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University offers an affordable BS in Fire Administration that has received accreditation from the FESHE initiative and is available exclusively online. Students are required to complete 132 credit units; which includes Principles of Fire Services, Combustion & Fire Behavior, Fire Research, and Fire Protection in Construction, among others. Columbia Southern University’s generous transfer credit policy allows for up to 90 eligible credits.
Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 as a for-profit school that offers online education exclusively. The many quality programs offered by Columbia Southern University have been received recognition by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Fire & Emergency Services Higher Education oversight agency. Columbia Southern University offers programs in partnership with Waldorf University located in Forest City, IA.
Degree: BS in Fire Administration
6. Eastern New Mexico University
Eastern New Mexico University offers an affordable Emergency Management Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences (BAAS) degree program that can be completed exclusively online. ENMU’s online fire science bachelors degree program’s majors include Fire & Emergency Services or general Emergency Management. Eastern New Mexico University’s fire science bachelors degree program is FESHE approved and requires the completion of 120 credit units and a capstone project that covers one of the following: Public Health Emergencies, Homeland Security or Topics in Emergency management.
Eastern New Mexico University was established in 1927. Eastern New Mexico University holds the distinction as being the largest regional institution of higher learning in the state. The school operates with five schools/college over three campuses located in Portales, Roswell, and Ruidoso. Eastern New Mexico University is designated by the federal government as a Hispanic Serving Education Organization.
Degree: BAAS in Emergency Management – FIre and Emergency Services
7. American Public University
American Public University offers a BS in Fire Science Management that has received accreditation by IFSAC — the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. American Public University’s online fire science bachelor’s degree program is convenient, flexible and affordable. APUS’ fire science baccalaureate program requires the completion of 120 credit hours across a four-year time period. American Public University’s credit policy allows for up to 90 transfer credit units if the credit units are eligible.
American Public University was established in 1991 and operates as a for-profit institution of higher learning that offers online education exclusively. APUS is organized into two schools — The American Public University and the American Military University. The school’s online student enrollment exceeds 48,000 students. US News recognizes American Public University among top tier schools offering an online baccalaureate program.
Degree: BS in Fire Science Management
8. Northwestern State University
Northwestern State University of Louisiana’s Global Campus offers NSU’s BS in Unified Public Safety Administration. Northwestern State University’s fire science bachelors degree program offers students the opportunity to select from three concentrations — Emergency Management Administration, Law Enforcement, and Fire & Emergency Medical Services Administration. NSU’s fire science major requires the completion of 49 credit units; while the baccalaureate degree requires the completion of 123 credit hours, which can be completed 100% online
Northwestern State University was established in 1884 as a normal teacher’s school. NSU operates with campuses in Natchitoches, Alexandria, Shreveport, and Leesville. The school’s rural campuses are home to more than 11,000 students. The Northwestern State University of Louisiana is one of the first 6 schools to be a member of the Joint Venture Program (JOVE) — a NASA partnership. Students at NSU participated in analyzing data regarding the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Degree: BS in Unified Public Safety Administration
9. Eastern Kentucky University
The Online Degree Program Division offers Eastern Kentucky University’s affordable BS in Fire, Arson & Explosion Investigation – a degree program that offers its coursework 100% online. EKU’s fire science bachelor’s specialty degree program is one of only a few programs of its kind in the country. Eastern Kentucky University’s online fire administration degree program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, however, EKU accepts up to 90 transfer credit hours, if eligible. Note: there are summer residency requirements, so students are advised to review program details online.
Eastern Kentucky University was established in 1874. Eastern Kentucky University operates in Richmond, Hazard, Lancaster, Corbin and Manchester, KY. More than 16,000 students study from Eastern Kentucky’s six schools/colleges. Military Times recognizes Eastern Kentucky University among the top “best vet colleges” in the country. US News ranks EKU among the top 30 regional universities in the southern portion of the United States.
Degree: BS in Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation
10. University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College offers an affordable BS in Public Safety Administration degree program that is available exclusively online. Classes in the 120 credit unit fire science bachelor’s degree requirements include Public Safety Legal issues, Public Safety Leadership, Public Safety Ethics, Decision Making, and Managerial Finance, among others. The University of Maryland University College’s fire science baccalaureate degree program has received accreditation from the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) initiative.
The University of Maryland University College is a public institution of higher learning that focuses on online education. UMUC’s online student body totals more than 90,000 students, worldwide. UMUC is one of eleven member schools of the University of Maryland System. The University of Maryland University College’s Global Campus is considered a pioneer in distance education, as it originally offered distance-learning programs using dial-up access.
Degree: BS in Public Safety Administration
Can I Get a Degree in Fire Science for Free?
Unfortunately, the answer here is usually no. However, if you’re already employed in fire safety, your employer may have a program that can pay for your education. Of course, just because you may not be able to get a free degree doesn’t mean that you don’t have free options. For example, you can find fire safety online training free. These internet courses will provide practical tips that you can use in your job. You can even find free online fire courses with certificate options. These programs let you earn a certificate instead of a degree. Start by looking up “fire safety online training free” and see what you come up with. Whether you just take a few courses or you seek free online fire courses with certificate possibilities, you can expand your fire safety knowledge and use that knowledge on the job.
Will I Make More Money with a Bachelor’s in Fire Science?
In short, yes. Having a Bachelor’s degree will qualify you for higher-paid positions in your field, depending on the specialization you choose. If you’re ready for a promotion and a bigger salary, getting a Bachelor’s degree is a vital step. Read on to take a closer look at some of the positions and salaries that you might obtain with a degree.
First, take a look at the average fire inspector salary. A fire inspector examines buildings to make sure that they’re up to current fire codes. The average fire inspector salary is $62,703. This job requires a lot of training, and it starts with getting a Bachelor’s degree.
Next, check out the average fire captain salary. Fire captains generally oversee activities at a fire station. They also direct fire crews during emergencies. Since fire captains must be confident in their knowledge and have lots of leadership and critical thinking skills, he or she must have a degree. The average fire captain salary is roughly $66,000. However, these salaries vary widely depending on where you live and how much experience you have. Fire captains who work in major cities often make much more than average.
Then there’s the fire investigator salary. Fire investigators examine the conditions that led to the fire. They help law enforcement officers determine how a fire got started. They usually enter the mix when law enforcement suspects arson. The average fire inspector salary is just over $62,000. This job requires a lot of critical thinking and analytical skill, so training is especially vital.
Next, look at the average fire safety officer salary. A fire safety officer often helps fire inspectors in their work, making sure that buildings stay up to fire code. A fire inspector will also respond to fire emergencies and help examine the cause of certain fires. The average fire safety officer salary is about $53,000, with opportunities for commissions and bonuses.
Now, look at the average fire administration salary. A fire administration officer oversees the organization of a fire station or a fire department. Fire administrators are often former firefighters. They stay on top of budgets, employment, communication, and more. The average fire administration salary is just under $45,000.
Finally, how much does a fire chief make? A fire chief is the head of a fire department. They oversee their teams and maintain leadership. Becoming a fire chief is a major honor that doesn’t happen without a lot of training and experience. In fact, most fire chiefs have advanced degrees. Therefore, those who want to become a fire chief must start with a Bachelor’s degree. So, how much does a fire chief make? On average, a fire chief will make about $72,000.