What Training Is Required to Become a Fireman?

Firefighters' main job is to control fires, but they also respond to all kinds of emergencies. Read on for more information about education and training requirements to become a firefighter. Schools offering Fire Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview

To become a fireman, also called a firefighter, you will have to complete a rigorous training program that covers subjects like fire prevention and emergency medical procedures. Firefighters generally need a minimum of a high school diploma, although an increasing number of applicants with some postsecondary education have been filling open positions.

Important Facts About This Career

Median Pay (2018) $49,620
Job Outlook (2016-2026)7% employment increase
Work EnvironmentLong shifts, sometimes as long as 24 hours; high rate of injury and illness
Similar OccupationsEMTs and Paramedics, Fire Inspectors, Fire Investigators, Police Officers, Detectives, Security Officers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Requirements

At minimum, firefighters undergo several weeks of training through their department's academy. New hires then enter a probationary period with a fire company to which they're assigned. Alternatively, some fire departments offer apprenticeships, which last approximately four years and allow new firefighters to train under seasoned veterans. In either form, training usually includes hands-on experience and in-class instruction, covering subjects like firefighting techniques, first aid, and the following:

  • Fire prevention
  • Building codes
  • Control of hazardous materials
  • Proper use of firefighting and rescue tools

Most firefighters must also be licensed as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). In smaller departments, firemen are usually required to hold only the lowest level of EMT certification. However, larger, metropolitan-based agencies are increasingly beginning to require that firefighters hold paramedic certification. Some departments provide medical training through their fire academies, while others require recruits to gain certification independently.

Education

Firefighters usually need a minimum of a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). However, some additional education is often preferred. Many two- and four-year colleges offer fire science and fire engineering courses. Job applicants who have completed a course or associate's degree in one of these areas may have an improved chance of being hired.

Additional Qualifications

Those applying for municipal jobs are typically required to pass a written exam, as well as a drug test and medical exam. They are often tested for physical strength, stamina, agility, and coordination. Applicants with the highest scores on these tests will have the best shot at employment.

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