Firefighter Opportunities for Advancement

Becoming a firefighter means you are on-call for fire emergencies and must be compassionate, physically fit, courageous, communicative. This article discusses the requirements for entry-level firefighters to move up the ladder.

Advancement for Firefighters

Firefighters are responsible for controlling situations where people or the environment are in danger due to fire. To become an entry-level firefighter, you usually need a high school diploma or equivalent and to complete fire academy and emergency medical training. After some time, firefighters may seek advancement opportunities by completing specific training or attending university for related degrees that will prepare them for more advanced positions. There are numerous options for advancement for experienced firefighters. Check with your local fire department for your state's specific certification requirements.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Certificates or Education
Supervisor of Fire Fighting/Prevention Workers $74,540 (First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers) 5-9% (First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers) On-the-job training
EMT/Paramedic $32,670 15% Postsecondary nondegree award (if not already certified)
Fire Inspector/Investigator $58,440 7% 2- or 4-year degree in fire science/engineering/chemistry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)

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Career Information

Supervisor of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers

To become a supervisor of fire fighting and prevention workers, you must be physically fit, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and experience and training as an entry-level firefighter. Every state has different requirements for this position, which includes direct supervision and coordination of workers engaged in firefighting and fire prevention and control.

EMT/Paramedic

People's lives depend on the quick and accurate responses of EMTs and paramedics during a medical emergency, and firefighters usually already have EMT certification. A high school diploma and CPR certification are the usual requirements for entry into a postsecondary nondegree program in emergency medical technology; however, paramedics may be required to earn an associate's degree or certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). All states require that EMTs and paramedics are licensed, and many must take an additional course to be able to drive an ambulance.

Fire Inspector/Investigator

In addition to firefighting experience and on-the-job training, many fire inspectors are required to be a US citizen, have a valid driver's license, and pass a background check and drug test. Fire inspectors have police powers and are responsible for detecting fire hazards and code violations, whereas fire investigators are responsible for ascertaining causes of fires and explosions. Certification is offered through the National Fire Protection Association, updated annually, and many employers prefer candidates with a 2- or 4-year degree in fire science, chemistry, or engineering.


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