When it comes to career choices, firefighting was always high up there on the list, but there were other career paths you considered as well. You’re now interested in becoming a firefighter, but you admittedly don’t have a lick of experience. Will a fire department still hire you?
You can be hired as a firefighter with no experience. In fact, the majority of firefighters in large cities are hired with no experience. However, depending on where you work, it would be beneficial to get as much experience as possible before applying for a job.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about what you need and what you don’t need to get hired as a firefighter. If you’re interested in this tough but rewarding career choice, then make sure you keep reading. You won’t want to miss this!
Table of Contents
Requirements to Become a Firefighter (even if you lack experience)
Per the intro, the following are all expected of aspiring firefighters who are applying to a job opening at the fire department. Surprisingly, past firefighting experience is not a requirement.
In fact, when I was first hired I had very little to no experience in firefighting. Trust me when I say, it’s possible, and many young firefighters are hired with no experience.
High School Diploma
Many jobs require you to have at least a community college education and hold an associate degree. Breaking into the upper echelon of careers mandates possessing a bachelor’s and very often a master’s degree.
You need not be a degree holder to apply for work as a firefighter. You don’t even have to have attended college. If you did, that’s great, but it’s not required.
What is required is a high school diploma, which is also known as a GED. If not a GED, then you need another means of proving that you achieved the education equivalent.
Active Driver’s License
Another document that a fire department will check for when reviewing your job application is an active and valid driver’s license.
One of the reasons for this has to do with your age, which we’ll talk more about shortly.
Further, the fire department wants to ensure that you can legally drive, as your job may require you to.
Even if you don’t apply for a firefighting job where you commandeer the fire engine, if your fellow team members are unavailable or incapacitated, you’d be in charge of driving. You’d need to be able to do that at a moment’s notice.
Emergency Medical Technician Certificate
You should also have an Emergency Medical Technician or EMT certificate before applying for a firefighting job.
You can sign up for an EMT certifying course through a school or accredited organization.
The course might last 190 hours at least. You’d learn about all the duties of an EMT and get to apply some of these techniques on dummies and other faux subjects.
Although firefighters and EMTs are two separate jobs, your ability to stabilize a patient until they can get proper medical treatment would be invaluable.
While exceptions certainly do exist, for the most part, a fire department wants an applicant with a clean record.
That means having a good credit score (no history of fraud or other unsavory activities) and a good driving record with as few accidents as possible.
You also shouldn’t have a criminal record, as that makes it harder to get hired for any job. You will get asked about this in the interview.
Check out this complete guide to firefighter interview I wrote to make sure you’re ready.
Going back to our point from before, it’s recommended that an aspiring firefighter be at least 18 years old before applying for the job.
You will not be contacted by a fire department if you’re under 18 no matter how qualified you otherwise may be. However there are junior firefighter programs that may be available for high school students.
Skills That Make a Good Firefighter
Besides the above, the following skills and abilities also make for a great firefighter and are thus recommended if you hope to get hired by a fire department.
Physical Strength and Conditioning
This is a must-have. Firefighting is an incredibly arduously physical job, and not everyone is up to the challenge.
If you’re serious about getting fit you should strongly consider a program like Firefighter Furnace. Use the offer code FIREFIGHTERNOW20 to get 20% off for life.
To prove that you are, you’ll have to undergo the Candidate Physical Ability Test or the CPAT.
This 10-minute test determines if you’re physically able to handle the rigors of working as a firefighter. You’ll be asked to do the following commands:
- Find a fire and look for a fire extension, aka the ceiling breach and pull
- Remove someone from a burning building, known as the rescue drag
- Search through a dark area and find victims
- Forcibly enter via breaching a wall or breaking through a locked door
- Put a ladder on the ground and then raise it all the way to a window or roof, aka the ladder raise and extension
- Carry equipment from a fire apparatus down to the ground level
- Drag an uncharged fire hose line and then advance the line
- Climb stairs with 25 pounds of hose
Remember, you have to do all this in 10 minutes, so it’s certainly anything but easy!
As a firefighter, many of the choices you make literally come down to a matter of life or death. Thus, you have to be quick on your feet and confident in your decision-making. There’s no time to waffle or doubt yourself in this job!
No matter your rank as a firefighter, there’s always someone above you. As a newbie firefighter, it’s good to get into the habit of obeying orders and listening to instructions. Keep this up throughout your career!
Without stamina, even if you have all the physical strength in the world, you’ll burn out quickly before you really get to use it. You need both physical ability and stamina to be a successful firefighter.
Firefighters never work alone. You need to be able to trust in your crew and rely on them. You’re putting your life in their hands and vice-versa.
Finally, to have a shot at getting hired as a firefighter, you need strong communication skills.
You and your team will communicate mostly verbally but sometimes nonverbally as well. There can be no mixed signals here, as again, firefighting is very often a matter of life and death. Every second counts!
What If You Have Firefighting Experience – Can You Still Get Hired?
Let’s say you do have some firefighting experience. If so, then you’ll have a far easier time getting hired by a fire department since you know your way around a fire station.
At your level of experience, here’s what you should add to your resume to make you a more shining candidate:
- Certifications related to firefighting or medical care
- Volunteer or paid firefighting experience
- Fire academy background and graduation date
- College degree
Although most jobs require you to have experience to get hired, firefighting is not one of them.
That said, you need a driver’s license, a GED, and an EMT certification at the very least. You also have to pass a physical exam to prove your ability and stamina.
If you’ve always considered becoming a firefighter but weren’t sure if you could do it, I hope this article proves that you can!