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I'm seeking some wisdom from those older and wiser in life. I'm graduating this Spring with my BS in Exercise Science, and have decided that a fire career is what I want to pursue, but I still want to pursue my Master's Degree. I am currently a Seasonal Firefighter in California, and could work the season and go to school one semester a year-earning my master's over four years instead of two, or go into debt and earn my degree in two and have it done and for the rest of my life, still working but only for a few months instead of April-November. I am starting to feel less of a rush to get my master's done, but it is something important to me. Any tips from those that have been in this situation or have insight are welcome, as this is an issue facing many of today's students.

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Hello Katy,

This is a problem that plagues a lot of us in the workforce, not just the fire department. I would contact the univeristy you are hoping to go to and speak with an advisor about their options for completing a Masters. Graduate school makes universities enough money that they are usually very willing to work around your schedule. There is always the option of getting your Masters online. University of Phoenix has made this an art! As for getting it in four years or getting it in two, this is up to you. There is nothing wrong with taking a little longer to get a degree, but at the same time it is nice to just get it done. This will be your decision to make. If you feel you may not finish the degree if you space it over a few more years, then I suggest you get it done in two. If you feel that won't be a problem for you, stick with the work you love most and get the degree done in four. One thing I have been told by officers and firefighters in the fire departments in my area is that if you have your BA or BS, your good, that an MA or MS is just extra that really won't benefit you much in the fire department. I think this is true with the fire department itself, but it also opens you up to other options if that is what you are looking for (teaching, physical therapy, etc.). I have also spoken with folks from OSHA and NIOSH who have told me the same things about degrees. If you have your Bachelors, you're golden. Over time, you may feel a Masters isn't going to benefit you as much as the money you will spend to get it. It all depends on what your long term plans are.

I hope this helps! Basically, my point is, it is all a personal decision. Do what works for you and what will make you happier in the long run!

Be safe,
Jess

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