If you have a passion for healthy living and physical activity, why not promote public wellness and physical education by training to be a coach, teacher, personal trainer, health facility manager, or recreation director.  Or you can prepare for graduate study in physical or occupational therapy, exercise physiology, or sports medicine.  Fire Science enables you to progress in your career as a firefighter.  Small class sizes mean lots of hands-on, active learning with professors who take a personal interest in their students’ well being and success.  

The fire service is a competitive field where multiple applicants vie for each available position. Many applicants do not have a college degree. As a result, a Southwestern student who graduates from the Fire Science program with an associate degree and both a firefighter and EMT certificate will be at a significant advantage in the job market, with opportunities in their chosen field.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that: “Employment of firefighters is projected to grow seven percent from 2012 to 2022. The aging of the population will lead to an increased demand for emergency responders as the elderly tend to use more emergency medical services. An increase in urban populations, where full-time firefighters are more common, also is expected to increase the demand for firefighters.”


Earning potential is heavily affected by geographic location. A certified firefighter could expect a salary between $21,000 to $61,000, while a certified fire inspector could make between $43,000 to $71,000. Emergency medical technicians can earn between $23,000 and $40,000.

Educational Qualifications

Upon successful completion of the degree program, the student will be a certified firefighter, EMT, and fire inspector. Students can also choose between obtaining a fire investigator certificate or a fire apparatus driver/operator certification. 

Curriculum Guide. To view general education requirements for this major, please visit the catalog.


A degree from the Kinesiology department prepares you for work in a hospital, school, fitness center, gymnasium, or in firefighting leadership.  It also serves as preparation for graduate education in physical or occupational therapy, exercise physiology, or sports medicine.  Additional certifications offered in connection with degrees in the Kinesiology department increase employment opportunities.

Sample Job Titles

  • Physical Therapist
  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • Trainer
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Recreational Director
  • Athletic Administrator
  • Fitness Specialist
  • Certified Firefighter
  • Fire Inspector
  • Fire Investigator

Expected employment growth of physical therapists 2010 to 2020

Faculty Profiles

Vesa Naukkarinen, MS

Associate Professor

Chad Hutchinson, MS

Assistant Professor

Paulino Santos-Andino, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor and Department Chair

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