11 Requirements to Become a Firefighter
Firefighting might be an in-demand career, but that does not mean it’s easy. It takes time and dedication to become a firefighter.
The competition for firefighting positions is also fierce, so becoming a firefighter will require plenty of hard work. But if you have what it takes to succeed as a firefighter, these are the 11 requirements that you will need to reach that career goal:
Meet Basic Requirements
Firefighters need to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Many fire departments also have a maximum age for joining the team that ranges between 28 and 35 years old.
Meet Education Requirements
In addition to a GED or high school-level education, firefighters have a better chance of getting hired with an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic certification. A degree in fire science can also improve a firefighter’s odds of getting hired and also prepares the firefighter for career development within the department.
Get into the Best Physical Shape
Firefighters run into burning buildings, climb ladders, and carry heavy fire hoses. To do the job well, a firefighter needs to be in the best physical condition for their age and body type. Fitness should be a primary goal of the firefighter and does not stop after getting hired. Firefighters must also pass a physical ability test.
Own Your Mistakes (and don’t make more)
Maybe you have a few speeding tickets or a DUI from when you first got your driver’s license. If so, do not lie about those past mistakes. Fire departments do background checks. Instead, be upfront about those mistakes and commit to not make any more. How have you changed? What steps have you taken to improve? This is what hiring managers will care about.
Be Professional on Social Media
Remember that what you say online can reflect on you as a firefighter and on the fire department as a whole. Keep your social media communications professional. Of course, that does not mean that you are not allowed to show your personality, but it does mean that posting those party photos would be a bad idea.
Show that you are Fiscally Responsible
Some fire departments might include credit scores in their background checks. If your score is not very good, work to improve it. A bad credit score can keep a firefighter from getting the job.
Serve the Community
Firefighters work for their communities, so volunteering your time for community causes can show potential employers that you are already committed to service within the community.
Pass the Written Exam
Firefighters must take and pass a written exam in order to become certified to work as firefighters. Make sure to study. Failure to pass the written exam means that you cannot begin work as a firefighter until you do pass.
Be Ready for the Psychological Evaluation
Firefighting can be hard on emotional and mental health, so fire departments often conduct psychological evaluations to see if firefighters are equipped to handle the stresses of their jobs.
Get Trained at a Fire Academy
While fire departments will also provide their own training for firefighters, graduating from a Fire Academy will help you to stand out as a candidate. It can also give you the knowledge you will need on the job and some hands-on experience.
Succeed in the Interview
The interview is the only way in the door at a fire department. You might meet all of the other requirements and have training and practical experience, but the interview is how you get hired. Be prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions honestly and make sure to highlight your skills, qualifications, and experience. And be able to answer the all-important question: Why do you want to become a firefighter?