What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Firefighter?


Firefighters do more than just put out fires. They also respond to a variety of other calls and are often one of the first emergency services on the scene. Therefore, their knowledge must exceed that of firefighting and extend to medical care and first aid. In addition to the required education and training, firefighters must have qualities such as courage, strength and mental alertness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for firefighters in 2008 was around $44,000.

High School Diploma

  • At the very least, an applicant for a firefighter role should have a high school diploma, as they will need to pass a number of written tests in order to achieve this position. A high school diploma thus indicates that the applicant has a certain level of literacy.

College Course/Degree

  • Some applicants may choose to take a college course in fire engineering or fire science in order to boost their chances of being accepted to later stages of the application process. This is not a mandatory requirement, but some fire stations may require an element of further education in order to progress through the application process.

Department Training

  • Once hired, all new recruits to a firefighting department will need to undergo training for several weeks at the department's own academy. They will undergo both training in the classroom and practical exercises in order to teach them about fire fighting techniques, medical procedures and fire prevention.


  • Following the departmental training, recruits often will be assigned to apprenticeship programs, lasting up to four years, where they will learn more specialist techniques, such as how to tackle forest fires. This probationary period is a mixture of work experience (referred to as on-the-job training) with classroom teaching.

Medical Training

  • The vast majority of firefighting departments require their staff to be qualified in the lowest level of medical certification, the Emergency Medical Technician-Basic. However, departments in urban city areas may require a higher degree of medical training to the paramedic standard level.

General Ability

  • All applicants for fire fighting positions will undergo a number of examinations, both written and physical, testing their strength, stamina and agility. They also will need to undergo a medical examination, which includes drug screening.

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  • Photo Credit fire prevention image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com A High-School Graduate image by TMLP from Fotolia.com college image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com San Diego Fire Fighter image by Charles Kaye from Fotolia.com fireman image by Edward White from Fotolia.com First aid box image by Galyna Andrushko from Fotolia.com running image by Byron Moore from Fotolia.com
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