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Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fireman. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and other requirements to find out if this is the career for you.
Firemen, also known as firefighters, protect citizens and structures from the damage that fire can cause. Their main duty is putting out fires, but they also perform fire prevention and education services for the public. Firemen complete specialized training so that they may perform their jobs efficiently and safely. Firemen can also earn undergraduate degrees in the field.
|Required Education||High school diploma, fire academy training; some employers may prefer candidates with a college degree|
|Other Requirements||Must be at least 18 years old; EMT certification|
|Job Skills||Must be in good physical shape, have good coordination and be able to work well under pressure|
|Projected Job Growth*||7% between 2012 and 2022|
|Average Salary (2013)*||$48,270|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Because of the difficult and dangerous nature of their jobs, firemen must undergo training before they may begin working. This training is usually given after an individual is hired for an entry-level position, although in some cases, firefighters begin as apprentices. Apprenticeships can last up to four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and include both hands-on, supervised instruction as well as classroom instruction (www.bls.gov). No matter which training route firefighters take, they learn information related to fire fighting techniques, equipment, chemical hazards, emergency medical procedures, fire prevention and more.
Some firefighters opt to complete further, more advanced training. For example, firefighters might attend the U.S. National Fire Academy, which provides training in a range of relevant topics. These can include:
To augment their training, some firefighters undertake formal education in the fire sciences or fire engineering fields. Whether a firefighter earns an associate degree, bachelor's degree, or simply takes a few courses, he or she will still need to attend fire fighting training. According to the BLS, job candidates who hold degrees are increasingly preferred.
Before potential firefighters may be hired and undergo training, they must meet a few requirements. These include reaching at least 18 years of age and holding a high school diploma or equivalent. Due to the rigorous nature of their work, firefighters must also be in good physical shape, be mentally alert, have good coordination and be able to operate well under pressure. They need strong self-control, the ability to refrain from drug use and the ability to interact with the public in a professional manner at all times. Additionally, most firefighters must successfully complete emergency medical training and earn an Emergency Medical Technician - Basic (EMT-Basic) certification.
Prior to training, most firemen must pass exams testing their physical strength, stamina and fitness. They generally also take written examinations on the medical and procedural knowledge needed to perform their job functions. How well a fireman scores on entry and subsequent examinations is factored into employment and advancement opportunities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that firefighting jobs were projected to grow 7% from 2012-2022, which was slower than average. There was expected to be much competition in this field, and opportunities were predicted to be best for applicants with college experience, paramedic training and high scores on their examinations. The mean yearly salary for firefighters in May 2013 was $48,270, according to the BLS.