Being a firefighter can bring satisfaction to your life and gratitude from your community. The job field has become highly competitive and there are many phases to go through before you can make the aspiration a reality. On average becoming a firefighter is a three to seven year process; it requires written, oral, and physical examinations in addition to several interviews. If you're hired, there is also a rigorous training program that can last up to 20 weeks.
The best way to get started is with a two-year degree in fire technology or fire science. This training will show in depth the structure and organization of firefighting. You will understand the different types of firefighting and be taken through an academy of preliminary firefighter training. This training will be highly regarded when you apply for a job. A bachelor's degree is not required to become a firefighter, but an associate's degree is recommended. If you have a bachelor's degree in a non-related field, it's likely you'll only need to take a few more classes to earn the fire science degree.
While you are in school is a good time to sign up for one of the required firefighting tests, the CPAT, or Candidate Physical Ability Test. It is also preferable to begin volunteer experience in the EMT field, another requirement to stay competitive in the hiring process. If you can, pick the area you want to work in, and go to the local fire station to find out what their specific requirements are (they vary based on location). Once you know more about your desired station's expectations you can take other tests and exams that you may qualify for. In some cases, you need only be over 18 and have a valid ID to take the tests.
Phases of the Hiring Process
The following phases are likely to be included in your hiring process. Each district has its own method, but expect to see any, if not all, of these stages.
There will be application filing, application screening, and a written exam for basic education. You will have to pass a physical ability test, oral Interview and a second interview with a chief if you pass the first. There will be a background investigation, and you'll have to pass psychological and medical exams. Finally, you'll go through recruit academy at the station itself. Although you may have attended a college academy, you will still have to be trained by the station you want to work for. If you are hired, a probation period will follow before you become a permanent member of the team.
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