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Fire Protection Technology Careers

photo of firefighters at work

Job opportunities are available in small or large municipal fire departments, fire protection districts or industrial fire departments. Depending on your level of continued education, possible career paths include:

  • Certified safety professional by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals 
  • Emergency manager
  • Emergency medical service provider
  • Fire and arson investigator  
  • Fire equipment sales representative
  • Fire insurance appraiser
  • Fire officer
  • Fire or building inspector
  • Fire or emergency service instructor
  • Fire protection specialist
  • Firefighter
  • Hazardous materials technician
  • Occupational safety and risk manager
  • Rescue technician

Firefighters

Firefighters work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Airport fire teams
  • Chemical plant and other industrial site fire teams
  • Emergency medical service (EMS) units
  • Hazardous materials units
  • National park and forest fire teams
  • Urban and rural fire departments

Between alarms, firefighters:

  • Clean and maintain equipment
  • Conduct practice drills and fire inspections
  • Participate in physical fitness activitiesarticipate in physical fitness activities
  • Prepare written reports on fire incidents
  • Review fire science literature to keep abreast of technological developments and changing administrative practices and policies

Prospective firefighters face keen competition for available job openings. Best opportunities are for those who are physically fit and score the highest on physical conditioning and mechanical aptitude exams. Those who have completed some firefighter education at a community college and have EMT certification have an advantage in the job search.

Fire and Arson Investigators

Fire investigators determine and document origin and cause of fires to bring authoritative testimony to the courtroom to win a conviction in cases of arson. An arson investigator tries to determine who is responsible for setting a fire; a fire investigator (who is also often an arson investigator) attempts to determine the cause and origin of a fire. These jobs require knowledge of building construction and materials, effects of fire, evidence preservation methods, fire behavior and burn patterns. Many fire investigators have a background in law enforcement. To be certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a basic arson investigator, you must: 
 
  • Possess a current basic peace officer’s license from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education or documentation that you are a federal law enforcement officer (note that the colleges of DCCCD offers state-certified Basic Peace Officer training courses and certification)
  • Hold a current commission as a peace officer with the employer for whom the arson investigations will be done
  • Complete a commission-approved basic fire investigation training program
  • Pass the commission examination 

Safety and Risk Management Professionals

Safety professionals identify and evaluate hazards for their potential to cause harm to people, property or the environment, recommending controls to minimize risk. They work for private companies, government agencies and organizations in areas such as operations, manufacturing, transportation, construction and insurance services. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) offers the designation of Certified Safety Professional.
 
BCSP offers information on median salaries for certified safety professionals (CSPs), with current annual salaries reported at $98,000. The median annual salary of a CSP is more than $25,000 greater than that of the average occupational health and safety specialist, according to numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salaries and Projected Job Growth

According to America’s Career InfoNet, fire protection-related jobs offer the following average salaries in Texas. Your professional advancement will depend on your level of continued education and work experience, along with the size of city and part of the country that you work in.

Job Hourly Rate Annual Salary Projected Growth Through 2020

EMTs and paramedics

$14.28

$29,700 +35%
Firefighters $22.09 $45,900 +21%
Fire inspectors and investigators $28.03 $58,300 +21%
First-line supervisors of firefighters and prevention workers $33.68 $70,100 +20%
Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists $17.20 $35,800 +25%
Occupational health and safety specialists $32.60 $67,800 +18%
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers $24.66 $51,300 +20%