A paid firefighter position requires a specific course of training that covers all aspects of the job. These duties include controlling fires, responding to emergencies, performing first aid, cleaning up hazardous materials and helping during natural disasters. Performing well in the training program and on the final exam increases your odds of landing a paid position with a fire department. While not required, a degree in fire science gives you an advantage when pursuing a firefighting career.
Earn a degree in fire engineering or fire science, with programs available in both 2- and 4-year durations. A high school diploma is typically the minimum educational requirement, but the college degree may give you a better chance of getting a position in the fire academy.
Get yourself into top shape physically so you are able to handle the demands of the job and training. Incorporate cardiovascular and weight training in your exercise routine in preparation for the firefighting academy.
Identify the fire department for which you want to work. Review the requirements for the academy to determine if you meet the minimum standards.
Apply for the fire academy associated with the fire department you selected. Prepare yourself to wait to gain entrance, as departments start new training courses only when needed or at certain intervals, which could be every one or two years.
Take any required exams to gain acceptance into the program. This often includes a written exam and a physical exam to ensure you are able to handle the demands of the academy.
Complete the fire academy successfully. Use the training as a chance to show your ability to become a firefighter. Become a certified emergency medical technician on your own if that training isn't incorporated into the academy. Most fire departments require this certification for their full-time firefighters.
Interview for full-time positions or an apprenticeship with the fire department. Many departments put new firefighters on a probationary status in the beginning.
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