What Are the Requirements to Be a Volunteer Firefighter?

Learn everything you need to know to become a volunteer firefighter. Discover education requirements, job duties, training and key skills to see if this is a good career for you. Schools offering Fire Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Volunteer firefighters work to protect people and property through fighting fires, responding to emergencies and educating the public. Volunteer firefighters don't receive any remuneration but they go through the same training and certification as paid firefighters. Refer to the chart below to see a bit more about the career.

Education Needed High school diploma
General Requirements Minimum age varies, driver's license, clean background
Training Required Varies by state; training done by each fire department
Key Skills Bravery, decision-making, compassion, communication
Licensure Required Some require certification as EMTs or paramedics
Job Growth (2016-2026) 7% (for all firefighters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Volunteer Firefighters Do?

Volunteer firefighters drive fire trucks and use water hoses, fire extinguishers and chemicals to put out fires. If there are people in danger, they are charged with rescuing them; if people are injured, they are responsible for performing first aid. In the aftermath, volunteer firefighters prepare reports detailing what happened. During down times, they clean and maintain equipment and run drills to stay sharp. In addition to responding to fires, firefighters may engage in search and rescue missions, do hazmat response, conduct inspections and give lectures to the public about fire safety. When necessary, volunteers can be wildland firefighters, as well, working alongside smoke jumpers and other emergency personnel to respond to wildfires.

What Requirements Do You Need to Meet to Be a Volunteer Firefighter?

Requirements are different in every state. Local fire departments typically arrange for (and pay for) any necessary training or certifications you may need. These could include, but aren't limited to, the following certifications: Firefighter I, Hazmat Awareness, Firefighter II, Paramedic, Emergency Medical Responder, Traffic Incident Management and Emergency Medical Technician.

Generally, aspiring volunteer firefighters will need to meet a minimum age and education requirement, have a valid driver's license, pass a background check and do a physical fitness evaluation.

What Skills Are Important?

Outside of training and certification, volunteer firefighters need a variety of skills to excel in the job. Most important among them is bravery. Firefighters rush into burning buildings, risking their very lives to save people from the flames. A great degree of physical fitness and stamina is incredibly important, too -- they're asked to wear heavy, flame-retardant gear and lug hefty equipment, sometimes up and down stairs or ladders. And, because they deal with people at tragic moments in their lives, having compassion is a must.

Do Volunteer Firefighters Get Paid?

The 'volunteer' part of the title is not a misnomer; volunteer firefighters do not get paid. They can sometimes receive a small, tax-free reimbursement, bonuses, insurance or tuition assistance. Volunteer firefighters enter the career for many reasons -- the thrill of it, the idea of helping people and more -- but the pay is not one of them. Many do, however, start out in a voluntary role with the hopes of working into a paid position. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters earned a median salary of $49,080 in 2017.

What's the Job Outlook?

Numbers for the growth in employment for volunteer firefighters are difficult to come by. But the BLS provides stats for all firefighters, which can give us a general idea. According to the BLS, employment in the industry is expected to grow by 7% between 2016 and 2026, which is right on par with the average growth for all occupations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Post University

    Post University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Post University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Florida Tech

    Florida Tech responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Florida Tech :

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »