How to Become a Firefighter
Though many dream it as children, becoming a firefighter is an important commitment that should be entered with great care and consideration.
Becoming a firefighter means becoming an important member of the community, and a professional many will rely on for safety. If helping people, saving lives and serving the public sounds like the right career for you, becoming a firefighter might be the best next step.
Requirements to Becoming a Firefighter
While some cities and regions only utilize volunteer firefighters, larger areas and communities with higher populations or risk levels employ professional career firefighters. To be of the latter group, you may even consider beginning your career as a volunteer, to be sure the line of work, demanding hours, and physically strenuous job is right for you.
Before enrolling in firefighter school or training, you must:
● Be a U.S. citizen and legally eligible to work in the U.S.
● Be at least 18 years old
● Have a high school diploma or GED
● Pass vision and physical fitness test
● Have a clean driving record and valid driver’s license
● Be free of misdemeanor and felony convictions
Firefighter candidates must successfully complete three tests:
1. Firefighter Physical Ability Test (PAT) – A task-oriented test consisting of various stations that must be completed in a specified order, which determine a candidate’s ability to perform on the job. This test is administered prior to the study program.
2. Firefighter Written Exam – This two-part test evaluates the candidate’s ability in general mathematics and reading comprehension, as well as their job-related characteristics.
3. Firefighter Oral Board Exam – This oral evaluation determines a candidate’s ability to perform in the field based on other characteristics, traits, and ideas. Some questions evaluate intent and ability, while others judge the candidate’s ethics and judgement.
Education to Become a Firefighter
Firefighters must obtain an EMT-B (emergency medical technician – basic) certification before working. Outside of this certification, candidates may earn associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in fire science to help them become an employable firefighter. These degrees take the standard two and four years of training, respectively. You can learn more about HCI’s fire science and fire academy programs here.