Firefighting is a promising career in the US. With an employment growth rate of 5%, between 2018 and 2028, jobs for firefighters are expected to remain in demand in the coming years. Even though improved building materials and stricter regulations on safety standards have decreased the number of fires and fire fatalities in the country, these professionals will still be needed to respond to fires.
Demand for firefighters will also be fueled by the increasing number of wildfires in the US, in addition to the residential and commercial fires. The US Fire Administration provides statistics for fire losses in the year 2018. According to its data, in 2018, the country saw a distressing 3,655 deaths from fires, a number which is up by 20.5% from 2009. The loss in dollars was also massive, with $25.6 billion lost, a number up by 90.6% from 2009.
With numbers such as these, it is safe to say that firefighters will always be needed to combat fires on the frontlines, protecting the citizens. If you have a passion for helping others and can make quick decisions in intense situations, you might want to read the following guide on the steps to become a firefighter.
What Does a Firefighter Do?
Firefighters are responsible for controlling and putting out fires and responding to emergencies where the life or property of the residents might be at risk. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed look into the job description of firefighters. They typically do the following:
Drive emergency vehicles and fire trucks
Use fire hoses, water pumps and fire extinguishers to put out fires
Locate victims and rescue them
Treat injured people
Prepare detailed reports on fire incidents
Maintain and clean the fire equipment
Carry out physical fitness training and drills
Steps to Become a Firefighter
In order to become a firefighter, candidates will have to meet certain educational, experience and certification requirements. The following steps will clarify these requirements in detail.
Step 1: Fulfill the Basic Requirements
Firefighters need to ensure that they meet a certain criterion before applying. They must have a high school diploma, along with a valid driver’s license. Aspiring firefighters are required to be at least 18 years of age and should be physically fit. In addition to that, they may be required to clear a criminal background check, along with drug screening.
Step 2: Pass the Required Tests
Fire departments across the US have designed a host of screening steps for applicants. Candidates will be required to be patient because the hiring process is quite lengthy. To enter a training program, applicants need to take two tests – a written test and a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).
Step 3: Become an EMT
Most jurisdictions require firefighters to have an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.
Step 4: Attend the Fire Academy
Entry-level firefighters are given a few months of training at fire academies run by their state fire department. This training period involves both classroom instructions and practical training, with recruits studying fire-extinguishing methods, emergency medical procedures and local building codes. They also learn about the standard firefighting equipment, including chain saws, ladders and fire extinguishers. After completing the fire academy training, fire fighters are required to complete a probationary period. Once they complete this training period, they may be placed on a waiting list of eligible candidates.
How Much Does a Firefighter Earn?
According to 2019 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters made an annual mean income of $54,650, which translates to an hourly rate of $26.27. Income for firefighters varies according to industry and state of employment.
The top paying industries for this occupation were the Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing, which paid an annual mean wage of $65,330, Scientific Research and Development Services, which paid $63,400 and Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools, which paid $63,090.
The top paying states for firefighters included California, which paid an annual mean wage of $84,370, New Jersey, which paid $80,890, Washington, which paid $76,970, New York, which paid $75,160 and Nevada, which paid $69,310. California had the highest number of jobs for firefighters,