LEVERAGING A FIRE SERVICE CAREER
Firefighters are passionate public servants, often serving their communities for 25 to 30 years before retirement, but they don’t have to wait that long to get involved in other areas of public service. Since fire departments often interact with various levels of local government, firefighters can network and find opportunities where they can get involved in other areas of public service. A master’s degree that focuses on public service can help fire fighters branch out into areas where they see opportunities for positive change. An Master’s in Public Administration can set firefighters up to be leaders in their community—both in and outside of fire service.
PROMOTIONAL EXAM POINTS
Many firefighters test for promotion every two years, but sometimes these test are even more frequent. Working with a point system, the exams are scored based on a few different things, and one is education. The written exam also plays a role in ranking candidates, but a good score doesn’t always translate to a promotion. Given the benefits of moving up the ranks in fire service, it’s no surprise that many fire fighters choose to pursue a master’s degree to gain a competitive edge when it comes to advancing their careers. A Master’s of Public Administration is an excellent way to add additional promotional exam points.
After gaining years of experience and training, many firefighters shift into an educational role. They often start with training programs in their own fire departments, and eventually become involved in teaching for local vocational programs or even at community colleges. Four year colleges, though, require a master’s degree. Some local schools might make an exception if an instructor has other exceptional qualifications and experience, but this is rare. Four year institutions prefer instructors with doctoral degrees so they can maintain their high standards. So having at least a master’s degree is critical to firefighters who want to teach at higher level—and higher paying— institutions. The Masters of Public Administration is a common choice for firefighters in this position because it offers the opportunity to more forward in their career as both firefighter and an educator.
Benefits for firefighters can vary a lot between states and even between towns. Educational incentives, though, are a very common part of benefits across departments. From tuition reimbursement to a stipend for credit hours or degree levels, these incentives go a long way in making post secondary education possible for firefighters. A master’s degree is a common goal when considering these benefits because, with this degree, the return on investment—tuition reimbursement, stipend payout, or percent increase in salary—is the highest. So a Master’s in Public Administration fits this bill perfectly: maximizing benefits and career potential.
THE ‘GOLDEN’ RETIREMENT PLAN
One major advantage of fire service is the retirement planning that the job allows. From day one on the job, firefighters can plan for their future and find a strategy that will work for their current and future career goals, like becoming a fire chief in another state after retirement. This common strategy provides full retirement benefits, the salary earned as a chief, and more stable working hours. But for this plan to become a reality, firefighters might need a master’s degree. Right now, a bachelor’s degree is the industry standard, but a master’s degree makes for a more competitive candidate for a chief position and can make this path more secure. An MPA degree can secure a stable future while making career advancement possible today.
Interested in a Master’s in Public Administration? Check out these programs that specialize in fire service today.