Is it hard to become a firefighter in America?

Becoming a firefighter is not easy for everyone as these professionals have to deal with harsh conditions. Due to their tough training and physically complex work structures, firefighters are more fit than people in other professions except for athletes and defense professionals.

According to Statista, nearly 331,407 firefighters were working across America in 2021. To kickstart your firefighter career, you should get a degree in fire science and acquire specialized certifications like Certified Fire Investigator or Incident Safety Officer- Fire Suppression Certificate.

Firefighters have to work 24-hour shifts and usually get 10 shifts per month. It seems like a tough work schedule, doesn't it? As compensation in contract firefighter jobs, firefighters get USD 23 per hour on average, and the salary range falls between USD 17 and USD 29 in the United States.

As a part of the career guidance, you will get answers to the following queries in this firefighter job guide:

After getting the required firefighter certifications, you will need a professional resume to apply for wildland firefighter jobs. You can refer to any online firefighter resume sample or use Hirations AI-powered Online Resume Builder to make your resume. This digital resume-making tool comes with an auto-suggest feature to ease your resume-building process.

What Does a Firefighter do?

Firefighters work as social workers who not only rescue people but also give them first aid to get temporary relief. There four basic responsibilities of a firefighter in the United States:

  • Firefighting
  • Medical Care
  • Fire Prevention
  • Maintenance

Requirements to Become a Firefighter

Firefighters are laborious, active, and trained to help people stuck in hazardous situations. You can start your firefighter career after high school in the United States.

Have a look at these below-given points to know all the requirements to become a firefighter in 2022:

Education Degree in Fire Science

Some firefighter hiring departments in the country require a high school diploma or GED to offer part time firefighter jobs. Whereas, some fire departments, especially in major cities, require an associate degree or certificate in fire science from a community or vocational college to recruit firefighter paramedic jobs.

EMT Certifications

Firefighter jobs are more than just dealing with fire issues around the city or defined territory. Hence, you can add EMT certifications to emphasize your worth for a firefighter job at your desired location. EMT stands for Emergency Medical Technician, and there are four types of EMT certifications in the United States available that can be seen below:

  • Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) Certification
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification
  • Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) Certification
  • Paramedic

Physical Ability

According to New York City Fire Department guidelines, you need to be capable of doing eight tasks to become a firefighter, including:

  • A 75-pound weighted stair climb
  • Hose drag
  • Ladder raise and extension
  • Equipment carry
  • A search part that involves crawling at a minimum of 70 feet
  • Forcible entry by using a 10-pound sledgehammer
  • The ceiling breach and pull
  • A rescue part that involves dragging a 165-pound dummy

Note- These requirements can change based on the location of the fire department. However, one common thing is that you need to be strong, active, and witty enough to help people in emergencies as a firefighter.

Written Tests

You will need to pass a written exam in some fire departments to get entry level firefighter jobs. However, you will not get questions specifically on fire science in this exam. It examines your endurance and ability to analyze a situation and find appropriate solutions for that.

Here are the topics apart from fire science you might encounter during your firefighter exam:

  • Memorization
  • Mathematics
  • Visualization
  • Spatial Orientation
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Mechanical Aptitude
  • Information Ordering
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Inductive Reasoning

On the Job Training

After passing the written examination, interview, physical fitness test, psychological test, and medical exam, you might need one more year of on-role training to become a skilled firefighter in the United States.

Also read: How to Become a Firefighter

The 10 Best Colleges With Fire Science Degrees in the US

To help you choose the right educational institute for a fire science degree, we have filtered the top 10 best colleges in the United States. You can opt for any of these below given educational institutes to start your firefighter career:

Institution Name Location
University of Florida Gainesville, FL
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO
Providence College Providence, RI
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY
Western Technical College La Crosse, WI
Marion Technical College Ocala, FL
Western Iowa Tech Community College Sioux City, IA
Lake Tahoe Community College South Lake Tahoe, CA

Certifications Needed to Become a Firefighter

After getting your educational degree from any of the above colleges and universities, you can apply for a specialized certification in fire safety. We are listing some popular firefighter certifications below:

Average Firefighter Salary

According to Indeed, the average firefighter salary in the United States is USD 51,055. Moreover, we have also gathered data of top ten highest paying companies for firefighters across America:

Company Name Average Firefighter Job Salary
NORA, Nationwide Organ Recovery Transport Alliance USD 84,436
Reno- Tahoe Airport Authority USD 80,512
Paul Davis Restoration USD 78,139
City of Wyoming USD 77,214
City of Placentia USD 75,955
Orange Country Fire Authority USD 74,125
First Protection Services, Inc. USD 70,346
City of Novi USD 70,233
Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services USD 68,767
State of Vermont USD 68,404

Top Paying Cities for Firefighter in the US

Location of a company is one of the most salary affecting factors worldwide. Based on this, we have listed the top ten highest paying cities for a firefighter in the United States. You can apply to a company in any of these locations to get higher remuneration.

City Name Average Firefighter Job Salary
New York, NY USD 63,373
San Diego, CA USD 58,809
Kansas City, MO USD 55,067
San Antonio, TX USD 52,637
Houston, TX USD 49,297
Chicago, IL USD 45,737
Eugene, OR USD 42,928
Honolulu, HI USD 42,720
Savannah, GA USD 36,538

Essential Skills for Firefighters in the United States

You need to be brave, strong, and intelligent to become a firefighter. It is a noble duty and required hard work to complete tasks. Here are some skills that you can acquire to grow as a firefighter in America:

Firefighter Skills Firefighter Skills
Effective Communication Problem-Solving
Social Competence Time Management
Spatial Awareness Physical Fitness
Adaptability Mechanical Aptitude
First Aid Dedication & Tolerance

Key Takeaways

Have a look at the extracted key points of this intuitive guide that you can follow to kickstart your firefighter career:

  • You can join as a trainee after high school in a minor firefighting department
  • Enroll in a fire science course if you want to join a firefighting department in a major city
  • Get certified with specialized firefighting or EMT certifications to emphasize your worth
  • Pass the written test, interview, physical test, and medical test to join a firefighting department
  • Complete one-year training after joining as a firefighter to polish your skills and fix your position in the team

These steps will help you to be eligible for wild firefighter jobs and kickstart your firefighter career. Still, you will need a firefighter resume to apply for your desired opportunity. You can use Hiration’s Online Resume Builder to ease your resume building and craft a professional firefighter resume without any hurdle. In case of any issues, you can always write to us at

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