Friday, May 18, 2007

Does a fire chief need a degree?

The position of fire chief is open in St. Paul, MN. The city of St. Paul lists qualifications for the new chief: bachelor's degree required, master's degree preferred. Only one person in the St. Paul FD meets these qualifications.

Does a fire chief need a degree?

The union has asked the city to lower the requirements so the job is in reach for in-house candidates. Currently only 1 is eligible. The city counters that thousands of unqualified people may apply if the bachelor's degree requirement is lifted.

The bigger issue: those in the emergency services need more education. The lack of education comes easily. Not all employers require degrees in their new hires. Some require degrees for promotion. The young person lands a career job. Bennies, retirement. He or she knows a degree is important--but now it is not a priority. Then the lure of overtime and the demands of a family continue the pull away from education. (Note: I speak from experience!)

Until an injury puts a person back on the job market. Or a provider retires at 45 and suddenly has no other skills or education. Or, as is the case in St. Paul, a promotional opportunity comes up. In all these cases its too late to start now.

Yes, emergency service providers have difficult schedules. Employers should step up to the plate with some scheduling concessions to make education easier. But with the quality, legitimately accredited distance education institutions out there, is there really an excuse for not pursuing a degree?

Take a look at:
Excelsior College
Empire State College

Both of these reputable, accredited schools provide distance education and mechanisms for evaluation of training and life experience toward college credit. And almost all local and state schools have some sort of option such as this.

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