Whether fighting forest fires or coming to the aid of a family in need, firefighters place their lives on the line each day. Those who choose to enter the profession often do so from a place of passion. Some choose the career to fulfill a dream while others enter the profession to fulfill a family legacy. Before entering the profession, those interested in becoming a firefighter should take the average salary for firefighters into consideration.
The overall hourly salary expectations for firefighters were $21.66 in May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those in the upper 10 percent of the field, such as fire chiefs, earned an average hourly wage of $35.76 in May 2009. Firefighters ranked in the lowest 10 percent of earners, such as those new to the profession, earned an average hourly wage of $11.05 during the same time period.
Some of the top paying industries that employ firefighters include college and universities, petroleum manufacturing and aerospace manufacturing. Firefighters working in these fields earned average hourly wages of $28.18, $26.59 and $25.19 respectively in May 2009 according to the BLS. Local government was the top employer in May 2009. Firefighters working for local government agencies earned an average hourly wage of $23.01 in May 2009. Other top employers for firefighters as of May 2009 were state government agencies and facility support services.
Several states rank among those with the highest number of firefighters. This includes Ohio, where firefighters earned an average hourly wage of $19.79 in May 2009. Other states with a large concentration of firefighters include Rhode Island, where firefighters earned an average hourly wage of $24.23 in May 2009, and Alaska, where the average hourly wage was $23.19 in May 2009. The state that paid firefighters the highest average hourly wage in May 2009 was New Jersey earning an average hourly wage of $34.53 in May 2009.
Those entering the profession should also consider the difference in hourly rates that occurs between different metropolitan areas of the country. For instance, Kingman, AZ represented the area with the highest concentration of firefighters in May 2009. Firefighters in this area earned an average hourly wage of $16.83 in May 2009. Compare that to the Los Angeles, CA metropolitan area where firefighters earned an average hourly wage of $44.18 in May 2009.