Published in the Hendersonville Times-News on Oct. 10, 2021
By Philip Hosmer
Dean of Public Safety Training
Blue Ridge Community College
Public safety professions provide a rewarding, service-oriented career where no day is ever the same. Common public safety careers include law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical services. There are many roles in each of these fields.
If you feel the call to serve your community, working in public safety may be a good fit. Right now is a great time to pursue one of these exciting careers: There are currently many job opportunities in each of these fields.
Is public safety the right career for you?
When talking to prospective students, I tell them that there are several qualities that make someone a good candidate for a public safety career:
Social skills: Communicating with others clearly is a vital part of the profession, particularly as you help community members through challenging circumstances.
Adaptability: Thanks to the tools, resources, and technology available today, all of these professions are growing. It’s critical to be adaptable and receptive to change.
Eagerness to learn: All of these fields require a great deal of continuous professional growth. Continuing education isn’t just important, but required. Public safety professionals have a certain amount of training they must complete to stay current in their field.
Ability to meet the physical demands: All public safety careers can be highly physical. You don’t have to be an Olympian, but you do need to be able to meet the physical demands of these jobs by the end of your entry-level training.
Which public safety profession is right for you?
One of the biggest recommendations I make to people interested in public safety—whether they want to be a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic—is finding someone already working in that field and shadowing or interviewing them. There’s no substitute for talking to and observing people doing jobs in the field to ensure it’s the right fit for you and something you want to do.
If you are looking for someone experienced to speak with, many of our faculty and staff are public safety professionals. We also have numerous connections in the community and are always happy to connect prospective students with people in the profession.
It is important to do your research because there are many misconceptions about these jobs from the media and Hollywood. This can help you understand what the profession is really like.
There’s a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction in helping the community and providing service to your fellow citizens, but there is also a great deal of sacrifice. The more prepared you are, the better you will face the challenges these careers have to offer.
What types of public safety careers are available?
Our Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Program trains people to be police officers and sheriff’s deputies. We also have a detention officer certification course for folks who want to work in local confinement facilities.
For firefighters, we offer the initial entry courses individuals need to become firefighters in North Carolina, and advanced courses for building upon those entry-level skills. We do that through the Henderson County Fire Academy each summer and individual classes offered throughout the year in both counties.
We also train students in the skills to start in entry-level positions as emergency medical personnel. Students can start with the emergency medical technician course (EMT). We also offer advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) and paramedic certification courses for those who wish to grow their skills further.
In addition to entry-level training and continuing professional education, several degrees and certificate programs are available. Blue Ridge offers degrees and certificates in emergency medical sciences, fire protection technology, public safety administration, and criminal justice technology. These degrees and certificates are an excellent way for existing public safety professionals to advance their careers.
Learn more about public safety careers
If you’re interested in public safety and feel called to serve in the community, we want to help you find the field that’s right for you. To learn more, visit www.blueridge.edu/public-safety.