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Q&A Feature: How Do I Become a Firefighter?

Q&A Feature: How Do I Become a Firefighter?


How Do I Become a Firefighter?

Q: I am a student in high school and I want to be a fireman. What do I have to do?

A: First decide if you want to be volunteer or paid. If you live in an area with a volunteer department start there. See if they have a juniors dept. or explorers post. As far as education, you will eventually need to get a degree in Fire Science or Public Administration to run rank.

Q: Do we have to have a high school diploma or a GED?*

A: You really should have a high school diploma.

A: Agreed, and yes, graduation is a requirement. Most junior explorers have to have a minimum passing grade level to participate, just like football and other sports. You must also have no criminal convictions, DWI’s, etc.

A: Agreed, a GED is the absolute minimum you need. Truthfully we look at a candidate with a GED and believe that he or she does not have the basic competency level. You will learn the basics in High School. Failing to get a diploma indicates that you will struggle in the academic portion of the academy. We don’t look to hire minimum achievers. The entry level exams are basic competency tests. Not only should you graduate high school (with a good GPA) but you should also attend Fire Science classes in the local college.

A: The associate’s degree is the basic degree in Fire Science Technology. Advanced degrees in fire science often focus on management training or fire inspection skills. These degree programs usually are for the fire service professional seeking advancement in his or her career. These programs typically focus on one aspect of fire science, such as fire investigation or fire protection. Becoming a fire chief will require at least a Bachelor’s, I would think.

Q: What do you recommend for someone making a career change at 30? I have a passion for being a firefighter and plan on making the time to do so. I’ve visited a few firehouses and they recommend I become a paramedic first to be hired right away. I’m juggling a mortgage and other bills, so is paramedic school a wise choice in my situation?

A: Find out exactly what the requirements are for getting hired at your jurisdiction of choice. And I mean EXACTLY. You might be able to get a job as a firefighter with just EMT-B and get your EMT-P later.

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