How to Become a Firefighter (2023)

What is a Firefighter?

It’s probable that you already know what a Firefighter does, after all, it’s in the name.

However, Firefighters do much more than just fight fires, they also find and rescue victims, help in emergency situations, treat sick people, help with chemical spills, and teach citizens about fire safety.

Some Firefighters can be found teaching classes to youth, new Firefighters, and communities as well.

Firefighters are an important part of our society; they help keep us safe and are always there when there is an emergency.


There are many things that are required of a Firefighter.

Some of the job duties you can expect with this career include:

  • Find and rescue victims
  • Put out fires
  • Treat injured people
  • Prevent fire damage
  • Respond to alarms
  • Handle minor medical care and emergency issues
  • Take education workshops
  • Maintain educational knowledge
  • Enforce codes


The averages salary for a Firefighter in the United States is around $54,000 a year.

When just starting out as a Firefighter, or for those that work in smaller towns, the average salary can look more like $32,000 a year.

Firefighters that work in large cities or for longer spans of time, the pay can be much greater.

Some Firefighters can even make up to $100,000 a year in some areas.

Earning certifications and specializations can help Firefighters can higher promotions and raises.

As a Firefighter, you will likely work long hours and for long periods of time, and overtime is very common.

This means that your salary could vary weekly, even yearly.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $55,290











Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$52,260
New Jersey$84,930
New Mexico$39,940
New York$72,670
North Carolina$36,950
North Dakota$52,010
Rhode Island$62,860
South Carolina$39,750
South Dakota$49,090
West Virginia$36,850
Puerto Rico$27,250

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is New Jersey, where the average salary is $84,930.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Jersey - $84,930

California - $80,990

(Video) How To Become A Firefighter

Washington - $76,280

New York - $72,670

Colorado - $68,300

*Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Firefighter

Step 1Earn a High School Diploma

The first step that you are going to want to take on your quest to become a Firefighter is to earn a High School diploma.

Many people think that this is not an important part of life, but it is.

A diploma can be your stepping stone to a great future.

You’ll also need to have a valid driver’s license in order to work as a Firefighter.

Even though you will need to be 18 years old to work as a Firefighter, you can start training as young as 16 years old!

You’ll need to be physically fit before entering a recruitment program.

Step 2Take the Tests

You don’t need to earn a degree to become a Firefighter, although having a degree in fire science can be very helpful, you will have to take some tests.

You’ll need to take both physical and written tests in order to show mental and physical strength.

If you pass the first round of tests, you will likely be called in for more interviews.

Then, you’ll need to do even more tests to be considered for a Firefighter training program.

One of the tests that you can expect to take is:

  • Candidate Physical Ability Test- where you’ll be expected to perform a distance run in a certain amount of time, and climb flights of stairs at a rapid pace, as well as lifting over 200 lbs.

For the written test, you can expect around 100 questions testing you on things like:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Spatial awareness
  • Mechanical reasoning
  • Logic

Some jurisdictions require that you become an EMT before pursuing a career as a Firefighter.

Since this is different in every state, you will need to check your local government requirements.

Step 3Attend Fire Academy

Fire Academy can be difficult to get into, but once you are accepted, it’s time to learn the ropes of fire safety.

There are online training options, but we suggest doing in-person training if available.

Some of the things that you can expect to learn in a Fire Academy are:

  • Application in the Exercise of Leadership
  • Challenge of the Future
  • Decision Making
  • Effective Communications for Fire and EMTs
  • Fire Investigation

One of the cool things about Fire Academy is that it is typically free for people who are in the medical field or want to become first responders.

You won’t just get time in the classroom either, with this type of training, you can expect to do things like:

  • Basic rope rescue
  • Live fire training
  • Search and rescue
  • Vehicle extractions
  • Victim recovery
  • Water rescue
  • Car fires
  • Emergency egress

Most Fire Academy programs last several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the area where you earn your education.

Step 4Continue Learning

This could mean earning a degree in fire science, which can take around four years to complete, or gaining experience through working as a Firefighter.

Depending on your fire captain and which path you take as a firefighter, there may be some certifications or specializations that interest you or are required.

They may not be legally necessary, but many Firefighters have certifications or specializations as a/n:

  • EMT
  • Paramedic

Some states do require some type of formal education or licensing.

For example, in Florida, Firefighters have to complete the Firefighter Minimum Standards Course and pass exams.

Check with your local jurisdiction to learn about what is required of you before you become a Firefighter.


The education of a Firefighter depends on the jurisdiction in which they work.

Often times, going to Fire Academy is enough to become a Firefighter.

This can take several weeks or up to a couple of months to complete.

In Fire Academy, you will focus on classroom work as well as hands-on skills.

Throughout the course, you will be tested on several things including how logical you are, time-sensitive matters, how strong you are, and much more.

You will also take written tests and exams in order to make sure you completely understand the logistics of fire safety.

In many cases, you will need to be a member of a fire station in order to enter Fire Academy.

Some of the classes you will take during this time include:

  • Fire Department Organization
  • Fire Service History
  • Emergency Procedure
  • Tools and Equipment
  • Ground Ladder skills
  • Fire Fighter Mayday
  • Building Construction
  • Search and Rescue

You can also expect to gain experience with hands-on training in:

  • Rescuing in water and on land
  • Victim retrieval
  • Timed trials

If you are the type of person that wants a more formal education, you can earn a degree in Fire Studies.

There are Associates and Bachelors degrees available for people who are interested.

These degrees can take form two years to four years to complete.

Within this type of degree program, you can expect to take classes such as:

(Video) How To Become A Firefighter TODAY: A 23-Step Guide Proven To Work (FAST)

  • Disaster Planning and Control
  • Emergency Services, Leadership, and Administration
  • Legal Aspects of Emergency Services
  • Fire Related Human Behavior
  • Fire Investigation and Analysis

With an Associates or Bachelors degree in fire science, you can expect to have better career opportunities in your future, including:

  • Fire captain
  • Fire marshal
  • Fire prevention manager
  • Fire officer
  • Fire prevention educator
  • Fire/Arson investigator
  • Insurance Investigator

There are so many opportunities for people who are interested in a career as a Firefighter.

Video About The Career


There are no special licenses or certifications needed to become a Firefighter.

However, you will be required to take a couple of tests in order to be accepted into Fire Academy.

The first test will be to uncover your physical ability.

This test will help show how physically capable you are of doing the rigorous activities that a Firefighter must face.

Typically, fire stations require aspiring Firefighters to take the Candidate Physical Ability Test.

This test is broken up into several parts.

First, you will need to climb several flights of stairs.

Usually, you will have to wear heavy equipment while running up and down the stairs as well.

Next, you will be tested on your hose dragging ability.

Even if this sounds like an easy task, it’s not.

Surprisingly, there are several steps that need to be taken in order to work a fire hose the correct way.

Making one mistake could cost someone their life.

After that, you will work on your ability to handle equipment and work the ladder.

Once you have figured out how to work with all of your equipment, it’s time to rescue victims from a fire.

Not for real, this is just a test.

You’ll be required to break down a door, and evaluate a situation in order to rescue pretend victims.

For each specific drill, you will be required to work precisely.

Every mistake counts against you, and after so many, you will fail the test.

It’s important to know what you are doing before trying to take this test.

Each trial is timed as well, to ensure that the Firefighter can get the rescue done on time.

Different fire stations’ requirements may vary, so talk to your local fire chief to find out what you need to do in order to gain employment as a Firefighter.

Certification Example:

How to Become a Firefighter (1)

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

The average training program for a Firefighter is anywhere between 4 weeks and several months.

Some training programs can even be done online, which can make it an even speedier process.

Though, if you are expecting to gain a lot of information from your training, opt for the longer versions.

These will give you real-life experiences that a short program may not provide.

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Job Outlook

Even though the career of a Firefighter is slow-moving, it’s only projected to rise around 5 percent in the next decade, there is still a need for more Firefighters.

With the use of more durable materials, buildings are not catching fire as much as they did previously.

Of course, this is great news, it just makes it hard for Firefighters to find jobs.

Those with more education and certifications will likely find employment faster than those who are not as qualified.

Learning about fire safety and teaching classes on safety techniques can be a great way to earn a living as a Firefighter.

Employment Growth Projection: 8%



That's a higher than average projected growth of 26,900 jobs.

Firefighter: Interest Over Time

Should You Become a Firefighter?

Overall Satisfaction: High

How to Become a Firefighter (2)

Studies have shown that most Firefighters are happy with their careers.

Some jurisdictions may produce more satisfied employees, depending on how many hours they are required to work and how busy the day is.

Most Firefighters are up for the challenge of taking on other people’s emergencies and find it rewarding to help citizens of their towns.

Protecting and serving is a major part of being a Firefighter, so if you are the type of person who loves to help, you may just the right candidate.

Average Salary: Medium

How to Become a Firefighter (3)

In the United States, the average salary for a Firefighter is around $54,000 a year.

In smaller towns, a Firefighter will likely make less, at around $25,000 a year.

But those that work in larger cities can expect to make upwards of $92,000 a year.

Depending on how much education you have, your experience in the field, and any special qualification, you can make quite a bit of money working as a Firefighter.

Firefighters that work in New York typically make around $75,000 a year.

While Firefighters that work in Kansas make around $34,000 a year.

Job Growth Outlook: Low

How to Become a Firefighter (4)

Within the next decade, it seems that the career of Firefighter will rise by about 5 percent.

This means that there will be more Firefighter jobs, however, this career isn’t as booming as many other careers in the field.

Improved building materials and building codes have resulted in safer conditions, which means fewer fires to put out.

While this is great for citizens, it can be hard for Firefighters to look for jobs.

Even with the improvements, Firefighters will always be necessary for society.

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

How to Become a Firefighter (5)

In order to work as a Firefighter, you need to have at least a High School diploma and be 18 years old.

(Video) Firefighter A Day in the life

As competition intensifies, some Firefighters are earning an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in fire science.

This can take from 2-4 years, depending on which type of degree you decide to get.

Often, Firefighters attend Fire Academy, which can take several weeks to a few months to complete.

Personal Skills Needed

How to Become a Firefighter (6)

It takes a strong person, both mentally and physically, to work as a Firefighter.

Some of the personal skills that you will need for this career are:

  • Physical fitness
  • Ability to lift heavy objects
  • Work well under pressure
  • Decision-making skills
  • Integrity
  • Safety management skills
  • Emotional control
  • Dependability
  • Good judgment skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to be objective

Firefighters typically work long hours, which means you’ll need a lot of stamina and stability as well.

Take care of your body and mind, and you can do wonderful things as a Firefighter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does a Firefighter do?

You can expect to see Firefighter racing to the nearest accident or emergency.

Most Firefighters also help rescue animals and people from dangerous situations.

They also put out fires and help victims who may be sick or hurting due to the fire.

Often, you will see that a Firefighter is helping with caring for people, taking temperatures, or hosing down flames.

There are many things that a Firefighter does on a workday.

Q. How long does it take to become a Firefighter?

Even though this is a very dangerous job, it doesn’t take that long to become a Firefighter.

Most Fire Academies require only a few months of training before you are able to work as a firefighter.

Some people do decide to work toward an Associates or Bachelor’s degree, which can take a couple of years to complete.

It all depends on the requirements of the fire station.

Q. Is there a demand for Firefighters?

There will always be a demand for Firefighters throughout the country.

However, it seems that the demand has slowed down since the existence of fire-resistant building materials.

Even though the need for as many Firefighters is going down, there are still many Firefighters who are retiring or leaving the workforce.

This career doesn’t have as much growth as many other careers in the same field, but being a Firefighter is still very important.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Firefighter?

That depends on how much education you want to receive.

Some people earn an Associates are Bachelors degree in fire science, which can cost around $15,000 to $30,000.

Often times, though, you can get into Fire Academy for free.

However, if you can’t, this can run you around $10,000 as well.

Q. What is the average salary for a Firefighter?

As a Firefighter, you can expect to make a decent living in the United States.

Most Firefighters make around $54,000 a year.

However, when you are just starting out in the career, you can expect to make less.

New Firefighters make around $35,000 a year.

It’s possible to make up to $100,000 as a Firefighter with experience and education.

(Video) 7 Reasons You Should NOT Become A Firefighter

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Is it easy to become a firefighter? ›

It's really difficult to become a firefighter. A constant story from many firefighters is that it can take many attempts before you're successful. You need to find out when the fire service you're considering to apply to is likely to have its next recruitment period.

Why you believe you would be a great firefighter? ›

Show that you care

Instead, focus on the true value a firefighter provides for their community. Talking about wanting to help others shows that this job means a lot to you. You could even add that you have always wanted a job that makes a meaningful impact on other people's lives.

How do you answer tell me about yourself firefighter? ›

Well pretty simple they want to know what you think is important. About you. And it also gives them

How do I become a firefighter with no experience? ›

Obtaining a college degree (in Fire Science, Fire Technology, or really anything) Volunteer firefighter experience. Complete a fire academy (usually a Firefighter 1 academy through a college) Any time serving your community or volunteering your time.

What skills do you need to be a firefighter? ›

9 important firefighter skills
  • Communication. Firefighters use strong communication skills when working with other firefighters during emergency situations. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Social competence. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Spatial awareness. ...
  • Physical fitness. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Mechanical aptitude.
15 Jun 2021

What personality type are most firefighters? ›

The top personality traits of firefighters are extraversion and conscientiousness. Firefighters score highly on extraversion, meaning that they rely on external stimuli to be happy, such as people or exciting surroundings.

What questions are asked in a firefighter interview? ›

15 Toughest Firefighter Interview Questions
  • Why Do You Want to Work in This Industry? ...
  • Tell Us About Yourself. ...
  • What Do You Think of Your Previous Boss? ...
  • Why Are You Leaving Your Current Role? ...
  • Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? ...
  • What's Your Greatest Weakness? ...
  • What Salary Are You Looking for? ...
  • Why Should I Hire You?

How do I pass the firefighter interview? ›

Consider the following steps to succeed in your next firefighter interview:
  1. Come dressed in the appropriate attire. ...
  2. Share your passion for firefighting. ...
  3. Provide strong examples of previous experience. ...
  4. Be honest about the challenges you faced. ...
  5. Show your willingness to commit. ...
  6. Talk about integrity and ethics.

What should I wear to a firefighter interview? ›

If they say "casual," that means clean, pressed clothes. Jeans and t-shirts are not a good option unless they are clean, dark, and accompanied by a blazer and dress shirt. An interview of any type requires you to plan ahead to ensure you are showing your best self to those who know nothing about you.

What have you done to prepare yourself for the position of firefighter? ›

Question #2: What Have You Done to Prepare to Be a Firefighter? Most applicants for firefighter positions have volunteer firefighting experience and CPR, first aid, and EMT certifications. Think about the preparation and commitment you bring to the table: Mention any CPR, EMT, or other certifications.

Why do I want to be a firefighter answer? ›

Firefighting is one of the most rewarding and noble professions in the world. Not only do you get to save people's lives, but you also become responsible for maintaining order in emergencies. A firefighter has to be a valiant risk-taker, critical thinker, and quick decision-maker.

How can I increase my chances of becoming a firefighter? ›

Becoming a firefighter: 10 must-do things
  1. Become an EMT. ...
  2. Volunteer your time. ...
  3. Take fire technology classes. ...
  4. Maintain a clean background and lifestyle. ...
  5. Understand all of the phases of the firefighter hiring process. ...
  6. Start taking firefighter tests. ...
  7. Stop by fire stations. ...
  8. Get some life experience.

Do firefighters get paid well? ›

As a Trainee Firefighter you'll earn a salary of £27,750 pa including London Weighting. Once fully qualified, your salary will increase to £37,032 p.a. Firefighters also receive great benefits including a pension scheme, childcare support, interest-free loans, training opportunities and a flexible working arrangement.

Is it worth being a firefighter? ›

Firefighting is an incredibly rewarding job that's truly worth it if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Though you will have to give up some much-valued time with your friends and family and put yourself at risk in dangerous situations, being a firefighter has plenty of benefits.

Which is one of the main goals of firefighting? ›

A firefighter's goals are to save lives, protect property, and protect the environment. A fire can rapidly spread and endanger many lives, but with modern firefighting techniques, catastrophe can often be avoided.

What does a firefighter do everyday? ›

Firefighters sweep, mop, throw out the trash, dust, wash linens and windows, and clean the fire trucks. We also take care of small maintenance issues such as painting. Public Outreach – Firefighters often provide station tours for the public or speak at special events.

Can an introvert be a firefighter? ›

Firefighting is not among the stereotypical career choices for an introvert, but many of us have made our place here, finding our own ways of balancing the thrills and risks of the job and of managing the complex interpersonal communications it entails.

Are firefighters brave? ›

Firefighters Are Heroes Because They Run Towards the Danger

When disaster strikes, firefighters are one of the first officials to reach the scene. Even in medical emergencies, firefighters are responding to the call. Firefighters are courageous.

How long does it take to become a firefighter? ›

All new firefighters are required to undergo extensive training that normally lasts between 12 and 16 weeks. Even firefighters who have been doing the job for a number of years are required to do ongoing training to ensure they're at the top of their game.

Are firefighters type A? ›

Firefighters: ESTP, ISTP. Dynamic and action-oriented, ESTPs and ISTPs thrive on work that allows them to see immediate, tangible results for their efforts. Architects: ENTP, INTP, INTJ.

What is Type A personality? ›

The phrase "Type A" refers to a pattern of behavior and personality associated with high achievement, competitiveness, and impatience, among other characteristics. In particular, the positive traits of a Type A personality include: Self-control. Motivation to achieve results.

What are the seven cultural characteristics of the fire service? ›

Positive public image is based on the fire services cultural strengths. Like: integrity, moral character, work ethic, pride, courage, loyalty, respect, & compassion.

Why should we hire you answer best? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

Why do u want this job? ›

Show your enthusiasm

'This opportunity is really exciting as I will be able to learn/develop/progress in an exciting environment/industry that I am passionate about. ' 'The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the job spec for this role was...'

How long does it take to become a firefighter? ›

All new firefighters are required to undergo extensive training that normally lasts between 12 and 16 weeks. Even firefighters who have been doing the job for a number of years are required to do ongoing training to ensure they're at the top of their game.

How many years does it take to be a firefighter? ›

There are different ranks in the industry. You start off as a firefighter completing four months of training. Then after further studying and doing exams you get promoted to platoon commander, station commander, divisional chief, deputy chief and then chief. These ranks may vary from fire department to fire department.

Is fire service training hard? ›

Becoming a firefighter is no easy task. It requires hard work, long hours of training, dedication and a sincere desire to help others. The firefighting career field is very competitive, too. You'll be up against hundreds, possibly thousands of applicants depending on the department.

Do you need GCSEs to be a fireman? ›

You don't need any particular qualifications to become a firefighter, however you'll be expected to pass English and Maths tests at a GCSE Grade C level (or equivalent).

Do firefighters make good money? ›

Firefighters can (in some areas) make 100k or more per year in salary. However, this is well above the national average and the majority of firefighters will not make six figures. The pay rate will mostly depend on the area and the average cost of living.

What is the oldest age to become a firefighter? ›

The general standard is that you must be between the age of 18 and 29, although some fire departments extend the maximum age requirement past the age of 30. Be sure to check in your locality to see what the age ranges are as part of the requirements to be a firefighter.

Is it worth being a firefighter? ›

Firefighting is an incredibly rewarding job that's truly worth it if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Though you will have to give up some much-valued time with your friends and family and put yourself at risk in dangerous situations, being a firefighter has plenty of benefits.

How much do firefighters earn monthly? ›

The average salary for a firefighter is R 16 676 per month in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

What is the career path for a firefighter? ›

After attending a fire academy, firefighters must usually complete a probationary period. (The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.) Firefighters can be promoted to engineer, then to lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, deputy chief, and, finally, chief.

How fit should I be before fire academy? ›

Leading up to the academy, you should be running every day as well as able to complete 20 pushups, 50 situps and 10 pullups without becoming winded. You will be tired when you complete your PT, but you'll also need to be ready to study. The classroom portions of fire academy will require a great deal of study.

How strong do firefighters have to be? ›

Firefighters need strong aerobic capacity for the rigors of the everyday job, which can include running up stairs, climbing ladders and more. This is all while carrying up to 75 pounds of PPE, depending on the job. Departments can test for aerobic capacity in a variety of ways.

What muscles do firefighters need? ›

Simply walking around in your bunker gear requires activity from your abdominal, back and leg muscles. Add to that the extra weight of a hose pack and then start climbing stairs and you see an increase in muscle activity of the already burdened back and leg muscles.

How do firefighters use math? ›

Firefighters need to use mental math when choosing how to attack a fire safely and avoid damaging the integrity of a building. Our degree program also trains firefighters to use a method called the Fire Flow Formula to determine how much water they will require to suppress a fire.

Can I be a firefighter with glasses? ›

Wearing glasses or contact lenses will not adversely affect a candidate's application. Candidates will be asked to participate in an eye test, the standard requirements for which are: A minimum uncorrected binocular distance vision of 6/12 unaided, with 6/24 in the worst eye.

Do firefighters have asthma? ›

Firefighters are at a higher risk to develop chronic issues, including lingering cough, hoarseness, asthma, and allergies.


1. 8 Steps To Become A Firefighter
2. How Long Does It Take To Become A Firefighter? Learn How to Become A Firefighter ASAP!
(Firefighter Ambitions)
3. 5 Reasons You WANT To Be A Firefighter
4. Fire Academy Week 1
(South Metro Fire Rescue Centennial, Colorado)
5. What Path Should I Take To Become A Firefighter? What Steps Should I Take First?
(Firefighter Ambitions)
6. How to become a Wildland Firefighter (Forest Service)
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