Should I Become a Fire Protection Engineer?
Fire Protection Engineers may often need to visit sites while working especially if they are employed in an industrial or a commercial location. Their job requires them to design and improve fire safety systems of buildings. Not only that, they also ensure whether the safety equipment is fully functional or not and if the safety procedures are being followed in accordance with the state laws.
|Major-Requirement||Fire Sciences, Environmental Health & Safety or Engineering|
|License/Certification||A Professional Engineering (PE) license may be needed|
|Experience/Training||At least 4 years of relevant experience|
|Key-Skills||Communication, Decision-making, Interpersonal and Critical Thinking Skills.|
|Annual-Mean-Salary-(2019)||$94,810 (Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors)|
|Job-Outlook-(2018-2028)||5% (As fast as average)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019)
Apart from completing the required education, training and licensure requirements, fire protection engineers are required to possess excellent analytical and problem solving skills. Their job demands that they figure out problems with safety procedures with a quick survey and find solutions to fix them. In addition to that, they need to be familiar with software such as AutoCAD, MicroStation and MS Office etc. because their job entails designing fire safety systems and creating reports of building surveys.
Steps to Becoming a Fire Protection Engineer
If you have the aptitude for saving lives, then here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
To build a career in this profession, you need to complete at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree in Fire Science or Engineering. The degrees must be accredited by the relevant authorities. For instance, the engineering degree must be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). There are several universities in the US that offer accredited degrees in these subjects. For example, the Purdue University Global offers an online bachelor’s degree in Fire Science with 180 credit hours, accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC). Whereas, the University of Georgia offers several types of accredited bachelor’s degrees in Engineering. For details on your desired program, you may visit the official website of relevant university.
Simply graduating with a bachelor’s degree is not enough to begin working as a Fire Protection Engineer. You must also take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam, otherwise called as the Engineer-In-Training (EIT) exam. It is conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and you may take this exam before or immediately after graduating from you bachelor’s degree.
After graduating and clearing the FE/NIT exam, you can begin working in the field as either an Engineer with a Fire Department or as a Firefighter under proper supervision. Gaining at least 4 years of work experience is crucial to becoming a licensed fire protection engineer. Working in the field would teach you about local codes and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
Although becoming licensed is not mandatory, it allows your job prospects to improve significantly. Not only that, having a license means you no longer need any supervision and can work independently. In addition to that, if you want to work with the US Government Agencies, you will be required to get a valid license. In case of Engineers, you can take and pass the Professional Engineering (PE) licensure exam.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Fire Protection Engineer?
To work as a fire protection engineer, it may take you anywhere between 8 to 10 years from completing the relevant education to becoming licensed with field experience. It is a time consuming process and demands patience and determination.
What Are the Requirements of Becoming a Fire Protection Engineer?
To become a Fire Protection Engineer in the US, all candidates must:
- Possess a bachelor’s degree in Engineering (with courses in Fire Science) or a relevant subject i.e., Fire Science
- Have at least 4 years of field experience in fire protection
- Have excellent communication skills
- Get on-the-job training
- Be physically fit
- Have strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Candidates may be required to obtain/possess a valid state issued license.
How Much Can I Make as a Fire Protection Engineer?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health and Safety Engineers earned an annual mean salary of $94,810 in 2019 which approximately amounts to $45.58 mean wage per hour. Furthermore, Oil and Gas Extraction was reported as the highest paying industry for this occupation by the BLS in 2019 with an annual mean salary of $123,870. Whereas, District of Columbia was listed as the top paying state in the US with an annual mean salary of $122,170.