How To Become A Firefighter Education Career Scope
Becoming a firefighter goes beyond measuring physical strength and career prospects.
You might assume that a firefighter’s job is limited to just putting out fires, but it actually goes far beyond that physical task.
Due to the nature of their work, firefighters are also responsible for providing first aid, assisting with search and rescue missions, writing fire reports, and the like.
Your personality traits are extremely important to effectively meet these firefighter job description requirements.
This is why many firefighter recruiters believe that physical and strength training comes after the Personal Quality Assessment or PQA.
PQA evaluates candidates based on their determination, commitment to excellence and whether they are truly prepared to put other people’s lives before their own.
Your outlook on life and your work ethic are very important because it directly determines how well you can perform your duties as a firefighter.
If you are physically fit and embody qualities such as commitment to diversity and integrity, resilience and a genuine interest in helping others, you can truly become a firefighter.
What is a firefighter?
A firefighter’s primary responsibility is to put out fires. They respond to emergency calls and operate firefighting equipment.
Firefighters use special techniques and knowledge to extinguish fires. They use hoses and fire extinguishers as well as enter buildings to rescue individuals.
However, the scope of their work goes beyond simply putting out fires. They respond to medical calls and community crises. They assist in search and rescue, assist in traffic accidents and ensure public safety.
How long does it take to become a firefighter?
Determining how long it takes to become a firefighter is not easy.
The time it takes to become a firefighter varies depending on where you work and in what capacity. For example, you could be working as a volunteer firefighter in a few weeks. However, if you want to work as a professional firefighter, you will need to train for at least a year.
Education is needed for firefighters
However, a college degree in fire science or related fields is always a plus point in your firefighter candidacy.
In addition to a college degree, applicants can also focus on courses related to firefighting techniques, hazardous materials, and so on.
Steps to becoming a firefighter
How to be a firefighter? Working as a firefighter requires a high school diploma or GED.
Technically, you can only get a job as a firefighter with a GED or high school diploma. However, there are many other things you can do to increase your chances of being accepted into the fire department.
1. Firefighter Schooling
While firefighting used to be a blue-collar job that didn’t require a college degree, that’s no longer the case today. As the profession has evolved and firefighters are expected to do more, they also have to learn more.
So while many fire departments don’t require a college degree, a higher level of education can help you stand out and land a job.
Most firefighters complete some type of fire science. However, if you opt for a 4-year bachelor’s degree, it may be easier for you to get promoted later.
If these options don’t seem right for you, choose other fire science courses. Terrorism management, hazardous materials and urban border operations are some of the areas in which ambitious firefighters specialize. This can add two to four years to the time required to train a firefighter.
2. Firefighter Training
In addition, some departments may require firefighters to have specific training, such as emergency medical technician (EMT) training. This is because many fire stations are dominated by medical calls.
If you choose to become an EMT or a paramedic, your training will be greatly extended. EMT training requires several hundred hours of training, with the exact number varying by state. Additional paramedic training can take up to two years.
3. Volunteer Experience
Becoming a professional firefighter takes a significant amount of time. But it takes much less to become a volunteer firefighter.
It’s also a great addition to your resume. Volunteer firefighters must complete most of the skills and activities as professional firefighters. This means that your volunteer experience will demonstrate the necessary qualifications to be a capable firefighter.
You can also gain experience by volunteering for non-firefighter organizations and initiatives. Any amount of time volunteering shows that you care about people. This is a favorable quality that hiring managers look for in candidates.
4. Application and recruitment process
After the preliminary training is completed, you may have to wait for the local department to hire. After that, the interview and hiring process can take several more weeks.
That’s because fire departments hire in batches rather than on a one-to-one basis. As a result, you may have to wait until your fire department even posts a job opening. This can be from 2 months to 5 years.
So you shouldn’t wait and apply to fire stations across the country to get hired quickly.
Furthermore, the application and recruitment process takes at least 6-8 weeks. This process includes an application, a physical dexterity test, a written test, interviews, a background check and a medical examination. Sometimes the process can take a year or more.
So finding a job in the fire department can take anywhere from two months to five years.
There are many paths one can take to become a firefighter. But the most effective way is to first know the profession inside out.
- Entering the firefighting profession and moving up the career ladder takes time. Generally, it can take 5 to 12 years.
- A GED or high school diploma is always required.
- Most firefighters receive some type of training in fire science. Completion of higher education takes 2-4 years depending on the degree chosen.
- Many fire departments require EMTs and paramedics to be trained firefighters.
- Firefighters hire in bulk. So the opportunities are spread out. So the applicant has to apply for jobs all over the country. The recruitment process can take 2 months to 3 years.
- Upon hiring, the probationary period is from 6 months to 2 years. In order to become a professional firefighter, it is important to perform well in the probationary period.
Requirements for firefighters
In the US, different states and fire departments have different requirements in addition to the mandatory training required to begin your career as a firefighter.
Applicants must therefore also ensure consultation with their local fire department regarding their specific recruitment formalities.
In the meantime, here are the general requirements you must meet to become a firefighter:
Age and license criteria
No matter where you are, the most basic requirement to become a firefighter is that you must be at least 18 years old.
This criterion applies to all types of firefighting work, whether voluntary or paid.
Another must for a firefighter aspirant is that you must possess a driving license.
Medical certification and background checks
To ensure applicants are medically fit to perform their duties, firefighter recruiters also require you to obtain an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.
EMT certification must be presented either at the time of application or shortly thereafter.
During the recruitment process, candidates are also subjected to drug tests and thorough background checks that include your social media presence.
Therefore, it is advisable to always be honest about your past record and not lie or obfuscate about your background.
What education is needed to become a firefighter?
New firefighter recruits go through training, usually called a fire academy or probationary school, before they start working as firefighters. Fire academy students also participate in simulations to learn about fighting fires in different types of buildings.
Firefighting is a very physically demanding career, so physical fitness is emphasized when training new recruits. Recruits can run and do exercises daily as well as complete challenging courses.
What does a firefighter earn?
Salaried firefighters in the United States earned a median annual salary of $45,250 in 2010. The top 10 percent of earners earned more than $75,390 that year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $23,050.
What are the job prospects?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 26,600 new firefighters will be needed in the United States between 2010 and 2020, a mere 9 percent increase in employment over that time.
Competition for paid positions will be high and you can increase your chances of being accepted by taking fire training courses and improving your physical fitness before you apply. Many fire departments require applicants to pass a written exam and a physical fitness test and hire applicants with the highest scores on these tests.
What are the long-term career prospects of firefighters?
With experience and additional training, firefighters can advance through the ranks of their department and be promoted to the rank of lieutenant, captain, or chief. Promotion may require obtaining a college degree or other certifications from your state.
Specializing in a particular branch of firefighting can provide you with opportunities for promotion and salary increases. You can take courses through your own fire department, through your state fire marshal’s office or through the National Fire Academy to study advanced topics such as fire prevention, fire investigation, executive development, terrorism response and incident management. You can also get certified and licensed as a paramedic.
How can find a firefighter job ?
Depending on the department, you will apply for a job directly at the fire department or through a general application at the city or region in which the department is located.
As part of the application, you will take a written aptitude test. If you pass this exam, you will take a physical aptitude test, usually the Candidate Physical Aptitude Test (CPAT). The CPAT was developed by the International Association of Firefighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs as a method to reliably determine which candidates possess the physical skills necessary to be a successful firefighter. Pre-preparation for both the written test and the CPAT will give you the best chance of admission.
As part of the application process, you may also be asked to submit to drug tests and a medical examination.
How can learn About firefighter ?
If you are interested in learning more about firefighters and what they do, visit your local fire station and ask for a tour or talk to some of the firefighters.
Why does firefighter training take so long?
Firefighters often find themselves in risky situations where an immediate response is needed. For this reason, most departments require extensive training. EMT training is also often needed because firefighters may be the first to respond to a scene where people require immediate medical attention.
Can you become a firefighter without training?
Because some level of training is almost always required, working as a paid firefighter without training is unlikely. However, you can volunteer with your local fire department. Volunteering can be a good way to learn important skills in the field while also allowing you to network with firefighters while you complete your training program. However, even as a volunteer you will need to complete some level of training.
How often do firefighters hire firefighters?
Most fire agencies hire new workers every Month. They usually hire a group of firefighters at a time to enroll them in their fire academy. Your location also affects how often the fire department hires new firefighters.
Some larger cities may hire more frequently and on a rotating basis, while others hire even less, only opening new positions when needed. Once hired, you will be required to undergo a background check, physical fitness test and drug test, which may take several weeks. Firefighter positions are competitive. If you are new to the industry, you can volunteer first to gain experience.
How long does firefighter training take?
The length of firefighter training varies by department. Some departments have programs that are as short as 18 weeks, while others have programs that last up to two years.
You will not respond to real fires or emergencies during training. Instead, you’ll learn things like fire investigation, fire science techniques, and rescue. You’ll also practice your emergency response skills using simulations. You will practice techniques in a variety of environments, including buildings of different sizes and different types of emergencies.
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