Did you know that the average American firefighter makes $50,700 per year? A firefighter is a first responder trained to extinguish fires, save lives, and reduce property damage.
Becoming a firefighter is a great option if you want to serve your community, stay in good physical shape, and have an exciting career. While there are many benefits to becoming a firefighter, you will need skills and training to start your career.
Are you thinking about becoming a firefighter? If so, keep reading to learn what it takes to become a firefighter.
Meet Basic Requirements
If you want to become a firefighter, the first step is to meet the basic requirements. To be a firefighter, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma.
You also will need a driver’s license and be eligible to get a license to drive a fire truck. If you are under the age of 18, you may be allowed to work with your local fire department in the National Junior Firefighter Program.
This program gives youth the chance to learn more about a career in firefighting.
Maintain a Clean Background
If you want to become a firefighter, you need to maintain a clean background. If you have a history of speeding tickets, arrests, and reckless driving, you are less likely to get a job as a firefighter.
Fire departments look for people that follow the law, are safe drivers, and have a clean public record.
If you have made mistakes in the past, it’s important to be honest about them during your interview.
Get in Shape
Before you become a firefighter, you need to be in top physical shape. To work as a firefighter, you need to be able to move heavy objects, climb ladders quickly, force your way into buildings, and climb stairs with heavy gear.
Some of the best ways to get in shape for firefighting include lifting weights, running, high-intensity interval training, and stair climbing. You also should work on your flexibility so you can fit into tight spaces.
If you aren’t in good shape, you won’t be able to pass the test to become a firefighter. You also will need to maintain your fitness level throughout your career.
Become an EMT
Another important step to landing firefighter jobs is to become an emergency medical technician (EMT). While some fire departments will help you become an EMT, having the certification will make it easier for you to find a job.
EMTs respond to emergencies, help stabilize patients, perform first-aid care, and transport patients to the hospital. To become an EMT, you need to learn CPR and join an EMT program.
On average, it takes around 120 hours of supervised training to become an EMT. Once you finish your course, you need to pass an exam to get your certification.
Some fire departments may want you to become a paramedic, which requires more extensive training than becoming an EMT.
Spend Time Volunteering
Once you decide to become a firefighter, you should start looking for volunteer opportunities. Volunteering with your local fire department is a great way to network, learn about being a firefighter, and gain experience.
If you are unable to get a volunteer position with your local fire department, look for other opportunities to volunteer instead. Volunteering is a great way to build your resume and show that you care about the community.
Some of the best places to volunteer include the American Red Cross, Big Brother Big Sister, and Habitat for Humanity. If you can, choose a volunteer program that allows you to use your medical or fitness skills.
Get a Fire Science Degree
Did you know that the best firefighters get a fire science degree? If you want to become a firefighter, going to college can teach you valuable skills, terms, and techniques to help you land a job.
Going to vocational school or community college allows you to get your certificate or associate’s degree in fire science. During these programs, you will also get your EMT certification.
Having a certificate or associate’s degree makes it easier to get entry-level firefighting jobs. Once you are ready to advance in your firefighting career, you can get your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Getting higher-level degrees can qualify you for jobs in fire investigation, fire engineering, and prevention.
Take Firefighter Tests
Before you become a firefighter, you will need to pass a written test. One of the best ways to prepare for the test is to take practice tests. Practice tests will give you a good idea of what to expect and the terms you need to study more.
The exams will also test your problem-solving, math, memory, and communication skills. Taking practice tests will also prepare you for the interview because you will have more knowledge of firefighting terms.
The department you join may require testing every six or twelve months, so it’s a good idea to keep your skills sharp.
Apply for Jobs
Once you have met all the requirements, it’s time to start applying for jobs. In addition to a written test, you also will need to pass the physical exam, oral exam, psychological exam, and background check.
One of the best places to start looking for a job is your local fire department. Even if they aren’t currently hiring, they can keep you in mind for the future or suggest other nearby jobs.
Some firefighters take jobs with the National Park Service, manufacturing companies, and fire organizations. Once you become a firefighter, you can start collecting firefighter coins to honor your work.
Is Becoming a Firefighter Right for You?
Becoming a firefighter is a good option if you want to save lives, stay in shape, and serve your community. To become a firefighter, you will need to meet the basic requirements, have a clean background, become an EMT, and volunteer.
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