Firefighters fan flames of their education at Ivy Tech Community College

Firefighters fan flames of their education at Ivy Tech Community College
By: Beth Ireland Last Updated: January 27, 2020

Every firefighter goes through intensive training to receive the state certifications that qualify them for a job as a firefighter. Why not take those certifications and turn them into a degree? At Ivy Tech Community College, firefighters can do just that.

Obtaining a degree within the Homeland Security/Public Safety program has been made much easier for firefighters. Many of the state certifications that a firefighter must attain for their job can be “transferred in” for course credit, meaning the time it would take to finish a degree in Fire Science is drastically cut.

“Ivy Tech allows state certifications to be cross-walked in for course credit. Depending upon the amount of certifications that one has, the time it would take to complete a degree is shortened by a semester and sometimes two!  As long as fire fighters meet the academic residency requirement of taking 15 credit hours of course credit from Ivy Tech, they can transfer in many state certifications,” said Nicole Fech, Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Success and Department Chair of Paralegal Studies and Legal Studies, Homeland Security, and Public Safety.

Not only can firefighters “transfer” their certification work for course credit, but many who have been working in the field can also use their experience as credit through a Prior Learning Application. 

“We take your previous experience in the field and, if it’s appropriate, we’re able to allow the student to produce a portfolio and demonstrate that they’ve met the objectives of the course so that they can turn that in for course credit,” Fech said.

For many firefighters, their schedules make it difficult to attend classes, which is why Ivy Tech Community College offers online courses in eight-week sessions to accommodate their varied schedules.  

“We make it very convenient to obtain a degree while balancing a professional lifestyle,” Fech said. 

No matter what a firefighter’s end goal is, obtaining a degree is an important step in meeting those goals, and Ivy Tech Community College is an excellent school that will help students get there.

“If you want to move up in management at your station or agency, or retire and have a career in something that is parallel to your profession, you have to have the appropriate credentials under your belt,” Fech said. “If you take the courses congruent with your state certifications, you go in as a degree-certified firefighter, and you’re on a wonderful path to move up in your career.”

Of course, Fech encourages anyone who is beginning the process of becoming a firefighter to seriously consider completing courses while they are working on their certifications. 

“It’s so important to do this simultaneously,” she said. “I tell the students to take a general education course while they are working toward their state certification. I have so many firefighters who are ready to retire and they realize they don’t have a degree.”

Ivy Tech has a long-standing relationship with firefighters and knows that providing quality and affordable education and opportunities for the field is important. 

“We recognize and care for the firefighter profession and what they do for our communities,” Fech said. “This is a profession that is hands-on and technical and is important to every community. The fact tat we can provide education for fire fighters while they are receiving hands-on training for their state certification is a great combination for success.”

There is also a new program to help volunteer firefighters in our community attain a degree. Through the new Volunteer Firefighter scholarship, anyone who is a volunteer firefighter or EMS and meets admissions criteria can receive a full scholarship for any degree program at Ivy Tech.

The program is one more way that Ivy Tech Community College supports and honors those who serve their communities. 

“It’s another way to reach out to our community, validate, and highlight that sect of the profession,” Fech said. “They’re giving up time with their family to do this for the community, and this is a way to recognize those individuals.

For anyone interested in beginning their degree at Ivy Tech Community College, visit their website: https://www.ivytech.edu/