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3 Steps to Becoming a Firefighter

Being a firefighter is a wonderful job with lots of opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for firefighters in 2015 was approximately $46,870 annually, or $22.53 hourly. As with many careers, there are the logistical set of requirements: having a high school diploma, being a legal adult, passing a background check and getting a good score on your tests. But there are also a few additional steps that you can take that will help you get started.

  1. Learn More About Fire Science DegreesLearn More About Fire Science DegreesBecome an EMT First: In some regions, becoming an EMT before you become a firefighter is a requirement, but not for all. According to FireRescue1.com, more than 70 percent of fire department calls are EMS-related, and only about 10 percent are for fighting actual fires. Therefore, an EMT certification or experience responding to calls and working on an ambulance gives applicants the advantage over candidates without experience.
  2. Get a Fire Science Degree: Gaining an education in fire science through a degree program or certificate will help prepare you for the real world of firefighting. The learning outcomes of the Bachelor of Science in fire administration degree at CSU include:
    • Being able to evaluate industry standard administrative techniques as they relate to organizational management in fire service settings.
    • Being able to synthesize community risk reduction methods in their communities as related to the fire service.
    • Being able to compare and contrast cultural human behavior that can affect fire science organizations.
    • Being able to analyze various principles of fire chemistry and fire dynamics and their impacts on emergency situations.
  3. Be a Good Citizen: Before accepting a job offer, firefighters may have to pass several tests including credit checks, employment history, criminal background check, drug test, polygraph test and more. It is also a good idea to participate in volunteer work in your community and possibly with your local fire department. Many firefighters started out as a volunteer and then built connections that led to their fulltime job.

Bonus – Military Service: According to Firehouse.com, being a veteran can bump you up a few points on the civil service exam. Being a veteran will also give you an edge in the interview process and physical examinations. Prospective hires with military experience under their belt are automatically desirable candidates.

To learn more about earning your degree or certificate in fire science, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Fire-Science.