Being a firefighter can be very difficult, but also rewarding. Firefighters battle fires and extinguish them while also ensuring the safety of civilians exposed to infernos. They are heroes. If you are physically fit and be passionate about saving lives, follow this guide on how to become a firefighter.
What Is a Firefighter?
Firefighters are first responders who are able to extinguish fires at a place of residence, business, or in nature. They make sure people and animals around fires are safe and taken care of.
What Does a Firefighter Do?
Firefighters control and put out fires that are damaging property and the environment. They also find and rescue people trapped in burning buildings.
When Not Fighting Fires
When firefighters are not on a call, they spend their time at the fire station inspecting equipment and making sure things are ready to go when they do get a call.
Although the main job of firefighters is to put out fires, they are also certified EMTs and can provide medical attention to someone in need. They also perform rescue services.
To drive a fire engine, all you need to have is a Class A license. It may come as a surprise because it is such a large vehicle, but because it is an emergency response vehicle, all you need is a regular driver’s license.
Essential Firefighter Skills
There are many skills you need to be a firefighter. These skills are very important and having a good skillset can result in saving lives. Some skills you must have to become a good firefighter are:
- Being a good leader means you can successfully lead a team of firefighters to efficiently put out a fire.
- Teamwork and Communication
- You must be able to work together with team members and communicate well with them to solve problems, put out fires, and save lives. You also may have to work with police officers on the scene to make sure they understand what is going on to protect people around the fire area.
- First Aid
- All firefighters have had EMT training. Knowing first aid is great because you are able to assist people who may have been hurt by fires.
- Problem-Solving Skills
- You must have great problem-solving skills because you will be dealing with complex, life or death situations.
- Be Mentally Fit
- Being a firefighter is a stressful job. You must be mentally fit to handle the work because you deal with high stress, dangerous jobs all the time. Your job is to save people and you must have that mentality. If you lose someone, it can affect your mental well-being, but you must be able to work through this to be successful at your job.
- Be Physically Fit
- You must be physically fit to become a firefighter. This job takes a toll on the body and you must have good stamina and be able to carry heavy equipment, and people. You might have to carry people up and down stairs in a building, break down doors and walls, and run up a lot of stairs. Being fit will make you a great firefighter and is a necessity.
Firefighter Salaries and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a firefighter in the United States is $50,840 per year. Firefighter jobs are projected to grow five percent by 2028.
What Jobs Can a Firefighter Do?
Although being a firefighter seems like the main job you can do, there are other roles you can do with firefighter training. If you are ready to leave the dangerous work behind but still be in the firefighting field, here are some jobs for you.
- Fire Inspector
- A fire inspector goes to different places and makes sure that fire and hazard codes are met and up to date
- Fire inspectors earn an average of $80,000 per year
- Forest Fire Inspector
- A forest fire inspector focuses on the outdoors to make sure that fires and other hazardous problems are prevented
- Forest fire prevention specialists make an average of $53,00 per year
- Since all firefighters are certified EMTs/paramedics, you are qualified to work those jobs. If you decide you do not want to be a firefighter anymore, then there is a place for you to become an EMT
- EMTs/Paramedics make an average of $35,000 per year
- Fire Chief
- A fire chief is in charge of a fire department. This position is earned by becoming a firefighter first and gaining years of experience. After you feel like you have earned the proper credentials and skills, and the trust of your fellow peers, you may apply for a fire chief position. You will be responsible for running the department, making sure day-to-day duties are completed, supervising firefighters at the scene, and training his firefighters
How Long Does it Take to Become a Firefighter?
It can take about three to six months to become a firefighter. It could take up to two years if you decide to get a fire science degree first.
How to Become a Firefighter: A Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Graduate High School
To become a firefighter, you first need to have a high school diploma or GED and be 18 years old. After receiving your high school diploma, you can start your application process. You also must pass a background check, drug test, and must be physically fit.
Step 2: Think About Getting a Degree
Although it is not required, some fire departments may want you to have a degree in fire science so that you fully understand the field you want to get into. If you really want to get ahead, you can even go for your bachelor’s degree. Here are some of the best schools to get a fire sciences degree.
Step 3: Get an EMT Certificate
States require firefighters to become EMTs. This is because you may have to do CPR or other medical tasks in the field. Getting your EMT training can take a few months.
Step 4: Join the Fire Academy
You have to join the fire academy, where you will learn everything about being a great firefighter. To get into the academy, you must take a series of exams. You must take a written test, physical fitness tests, and a mental health check. Passing your written exam, interview, and other tests will get you into the academy.
Find an academy near you that offers a great training program. During your firefighter training, you will learn safety procedures, how to put out fires, take physical exams, fire protection, and do some mock fire drills. All this prepares you for what you will do in the real world.
The academy takes about 12 to 14 weeks to complete. Those 12 to 14 weeks include 600 hours of training to make sure you understand what being a firefighter is all about.
Step 5: Apply For Jobs
After graduating from the fire academy, you can then go ahead and apply for jobs at a fire department. You can also do volunteer firefighting to gain more experience in the field.
After applying for jobs and getting interviews, make sure you nail them to get the best job you can. After getting a job, some departments may have you go through some extra training within their department.
Should You Become a Firefighter?
Being a firefighter is an important job. Though the training is extensive to make sure you are the best you can be, it is a rewarding job to have. If you are passionate about wanting to help people in many ways and want to feel a sense of danger, then being a firefighter is right for you.
Follow this guide and look up your state and local standards to become a firefighter and pursue your dream. Your future career as a first responder, a firefighter, and a hero is waiting for you.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.