All firefighters work on call, responding immediately to fires and emergencies while on duty. The amount of money on-call firefighters make is dependent upon the firefighter’s level of experience, the type of organization that employs him and the cost of living in the area in which he lives.
The average annual pay for on-call firefighters in the U.S. was $47,730 as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries began at less than $23,050 in the 10th percentile and exceeded $75,390 in the 90th percentile, with the median income at $45,250 annually.
The bureau reports that the largest employer of on call firefighters was the local government, which offered an average salary of $48,370 as of 2010. The federal executive branch offered a similar salary average at $48,990, but firefighters working for the state government earned less at an average of $42,880. Firefighters working on call in the industry of other support services earned an average of $30,040 a year, while those working in ambulatory healthcare services earned an average of $40,830 a year.
The states with the highest level of employment of firefighters were California and Florida as of 2010, which offered respective salary averages of $69,880 and $50,010, according to the bureau. The highest concentration of on call firefighters was in the state of Ohio, which offered an average salary of $42,350, followed by Rhode Island, which offered an average of $50,230 a year. New Jersey was the highest paying state in the country for firefighters with a salary average of $71,310 annually.
With experience and a strong track record, firefighters can rise through the ranks, including lieutenant, assistant chief, deputy chief and chief, and subsequently earn higher wages. Firefighter chiefs may need to possess a bachelor’s degree. Training in specialized areas such as emergency medical technology, public relations and/or building construction can improve a firefighter’s chances of advancing.