Firefighters play a crucial role in keeping local communities safe.

Working as a firefighter necessitates proper training and experience. Before responding to an emergency, they must fulfill training.

If you're thinking of becoming a firefighter, the best approach is to learn more about the profession. It's also crucial to estimate how long schooling or training will take.

While all firefighters must complete post-secondary training, whether, at a vocational school, college, or a fire academy, each state and fire department establish its employment criteria and training standards.

For example, the maximum age for firemen has been established at 35 years in several state fire departments. So, it is important to know the most efficient route to becoming a firefighter.

We'll go through how to become a firefighter and what you can anticipate from the training program.

What is a Firefighter?

The primary responsibility of a firefighter is to extinguish fires. They respond to emergency calls and operate fire apparatus.

Firefighters use special equipment and knowledge to put out fires. They use hoses and extinguishers, as well as enter buildings to rescue individuals.

However, their scope of work stretches beyond just putting out fires. They answer medical calls and community crises. They aid in search and rescue efforts, help with traffic incidents, and provide public safety.

How Long Does It Take To Become a firefighter?

It takes time to enter the firefighting profession and move up the career ladder. Determining how long it takes to become a firefighter is not straightforward.

The time it takes to become a firefighter varies depending on where you work and in what capacity. For example, you would be eligible to work as a volunteer fireman in just a few weeks. However, if you want to work as a professional firefighter, you'll need to train for at least a year.

The requirements differ state-by-state and even department-by-department. Most of them demand a certain number of hours of training. But a high school diploma or GED is always required.

The following are possible steps on your way to becoming a firefighter. The firefighter requirements are

Activity
Time Taken
College Degree
2 – 4 years
Paramedic Training
1 – 2 years
Emergency Medical Training
6 months
Application + Hiring Process
2 months – 3 years
Fire Academy
3 – 6 months
Probationary Period
6 months – 2 years

So, it can broadly take anywhere between 5 to 12 years to become a firefighter. However, there are some variables here:

  • Every candidate does not have to complete each step.
  • Each step can take different amounts of time, depending on where you apply.
  • Some of these steps can be worked on simultaneously.

For instance, you can attend EMT training and fire science school at the same time. So, the timeline varies accordingly.

5 Steps to Becoming a firefighter

How to be a firefighter? Working as a fireman requires a high school certificate or GED. Many candidates also choose to go for an associate's or bachelor's degree, while others will pursue a master's degree.

Technically, you may get a job as a fireman with just a GED or high school diploma. But there are many other things you can do to boost your chances of getting hired into the fire department.

Also Read: How to become a firefighter in 2022?

Firefighter Schooling

While firefighting used to be a blue-collar job that didn't require a graduate degree, this is no longer the case. As the profession has evolved and firemen are expected to do more, they must also learn more.

So, while many fire departments do not require a college diploma, having a higher level of education might help you stand out and get hired.

The majority of firefighters will undertake some type of fire science education. If you choose an associate degree, you can graduate from college in just two years. But if you opt for a 4-year bachelor's degree, you may find it easier to get promoted later on.

If these options do not seem right for you, choose other fire science courses. Terrorism management, hazardous materials, and urban interface operations are some of the areas in which ambitious firefighters specialize. This can add two to four years to the time it takes to train as a firefighter.

Firefighter Training

Some departments may additionally need firemen to have specific training, such as that of an emergency medical technician (EMT). This is because medical calls outnumber fire calls in many fire stations.
If you choose to pursue EMT or a paramedic, your training will be extended considerably. EMT training requires a few hundred hours of training, with the exact number varying by state. Additional paramedic training might take up to two years.

Also Read: How to draft a firefighter resume?

Volunteer Experience

Becoming a professional fireman takes a substantial amount of time. But becoming a volunteer firefighter takes far less.

This is an excellent addition to your CV as well. Volunteer firefighters are required to complete the majority of the skills and activities as professional firemen. This implies that your volunteer experience will demonstrate the necessary qualifications to be an able fireman.

You can also get experience by volunteering for organizations and initiatives that are not linked to the fire department. Any volunteer time demonstrates that you care about people. This is a favorable quality that recruiting managers seek in candidates.

Application and Hiring Process

You may have to wait till the local department is hiring after completing the pre-training. Then the interview and hiring process may take a few weeks more.

This is because fire departments hire in batches rather than on a person-to-person basis. As a result, you may have to wait before your fire department even posts a job opening. This could be anywhere between 2 months to 5 years.

So, you should not wait and apply to fire stations all around the country to get hired quickly.

Next, the application and hiring processes take at least 6-8 weeks. The application, physical agility test, written test, interviews, background check, and medical exam are all part of this process. Occasionally, the process could take even a year or more.

So, finding a job in the fire department may take anywhere from two months to five years broadly.

Also Read: Firefighter Jobs: A Complete 2022 Career Guide With Real-Time Stats

Post-hiring Training

You will certainly be required to undergo post-hiring training if you are hired. The average amount of post-hiring training is roughly 600 hours, however, this varies by state.

A firefighter recruit undergoes 6-months of basic training. The training covers how things function, the fundamental firefighting abilities and how to collaborate with other firefighters.

Pro Tip: You can also enroll in a firefighter academy before being employed. This is a great approach to studying the fundamentals before you acquire a job to be ready with the basics.

The next stage is to learn how to do your job, which will mean spending a year or two on probation. This includes learning about life at the fire station to ensure that you will fit in well.

You will be closely monitored and tested during probation. The supervisor would decide at the end whether you will be promoted to a professional fireman position.

Key Takeaways

There are many routes that one can choose to become a firefighter. But the most efficient way is to first know the profession inside out.

  • Entering the firefighting profession and progressing up the career ladder takes time. Broadly, it can take anywhere between 5 to 12 years.
  • The amount of time it takes to become a firefighter varies based on where you work and in what capacity.
  • A GED or a high school diploma is always required.
  • The majority of firefighters receive some kind of training in fire science. It takes 2- 4 years to complete a college degree depending on the opted degree.
  • Many fire departments require EMT and paramedics trained firefighters. This takes 6 months to 2 years respectively to complete.
  • Fire departments hire in batches. So, the opportunities are spaced out. So, a candidate must apply for job openings throughout the country. The hiring process can take 2 months to up to 3 years.
  • When hired, the probationary period is from 6 months to 2 years. It is important to perform well during probation to become a professional firefighter.

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