Laws in many areas require those wishing to become a firefighter or fire inspector to have completed a firefighter certification course. In many instances, the certification program is administered by the local fire department but many people also take certification classes at community colleges. Generally, a certificate of completion from one of these courses enables someone to work as firefighter within a particular district or region although some colleges offer international certification classes that enable students to eventually work in different parts of the world
In house firefighter certification classes that are administered by regional fire departments are normally open to candidates who have reached legal adulthood. While certification sessions are often classroom-based, many departments require candidates to pass a physical test before enrolling in these programs. Thereafter, candidates are normally provided with on-the-job practical training as well as classroom-based instruction. In different areas, these training programs may last for a few weeks or even several months. Often, people who successfully complete the certification program are offered full-time firefighting positions.
Some community colleges offer firefighter certification classes that are designed to prepare students to work for the local fire department. In many instances, these courses last for a single college semester. Employees of the local fire department typically liaise with the course facilitators to develop the syllabus for the class and ensure that attendees receive the most up-to-date information. Many community colleges regard the firefighter certification class as a college level course which means that students can apply credit hours from these classes to various types of degree courses.
Universities in some countries offer three or four-year degree programs in firefighting science and related topics. In some instances, these programs double as certification courses. Many students enroll in these programs with the intention of eventually becoming firefighters while some individuals continue their education by taking other types of degree or advanced degree programs. Diplomas or certificates of completion issued to graduates are normally recognized as being valid by employers in many nations. Conversely, short-term community college courses are often only recognized by the fire department that partnered with the specific college to develop the certification course.
In some countries, industry associations exist in which firefighters, fire inspectors and other individuals involved in emergency management can enroll. Many of these organizations administer firefighter certification courses. These courses may prepare an individual to take on a specific role such as a fire chief or engineer while in other instances the courses cover firefighting science in general.
Aside from firefighting courses, laws in some countries mean that firefighters have to undergo some basic medical training. Consequently, firefighter certification courses are only valid if an individual also completes an emergency medical training course or a first aid class. In other instances, people who successfully complete certification classes have to gain some on-the-job firefighting experience before they become certified firefighters.