Is Firefighting Considered A Trade?

You sometimes hear of occupations referred to as trades. These jobs seem like a cut above the rest, which has you wondering, does firefighting count as a trade?

Although firefighting is a highly skilled job requiring training and continued education to excel at, it’s not regarded as a trade. However, that does not negate the hard work and dedication of the passionate men and women who fight fires every day.

If you want to learn more about firefighting and whether it’s considered a trade, you’ve come to the right place. This article will explore what a trade is, whether firefighting fits in, and if not, what it counts as.

What Is a Trade?

Occupationally, a trade is referred to as a skilled job that demands special training and manual labor.

There are many trade jobs, such as sheet metal workers, machinists, masons, house decorators or pagers, roofers, mechanics, construction workers, car mechanics, iron workers, and even all the way down to elevator mechanics.

One does not necessarily require a college education to work in a trade. A high school diploma suffices, then the aspiring worker will apply for post-secondary training or apprenticeship. During this training, the aspiring worker will learn everything they need to know to excel on the job.

The drawback is that an apprenticeship can take at least one year, sometimes up to six. You earn money while in an apprenticeship, but it’s about half the earnings a full-time employee in that trade would earn.

Upon graduating from an apprenticeship or training school, the aspiring worker would be ready to get a job in their chosen trade and begin earning a full-time income. 

Is Firefighting a Trade?

Now that you better understand the basics of what constitutes a trade, it’s time to circle back around to your question. Is firefighting a trade?

Well, that depends on who you ask. Some in our field insist that firefighting is a trade, and if you review the definition from the section above, it’s easy to see why. 

However, the general agreement is that firefighting isn’t a trade. 

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear. Although firefighting isn’t a trade, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a skilled occupation. Like an artisan, or someone who learns a trade, a firefighter has to commit themselves to hundreds upon hundreds of hours of rigorous training to master their craft.

They will receive compensation during the training to make it worth their while, although they’ll usually earn more money once they’re hired by a fire department and begin actively working. 

Trade skills do come in handy as a firefighter, so if you have them, you could stand out from the competition and excel on the job. Especially if you have a background in other types of blue collar work.

Here are a few examples of trade skills that transition easily into firefighting.

Electric Skills

Firefighters do more than extinguish blazes, but also assist the fire department in investigating the cause of a fire. A trade background in electrical work can help a firefighter seek out sources of fire more readily.

Mechanical Skills 

If you have experience with commercial auto repairs, translating those skills into maintaining and fixing the fire engines around the firehouse should be simple enough. You can save the fire department money and become a more invaluable member of the team. 

Roofing Skills

Firefighters must access dangerous situations, including scaling roofs to rescue victims or gain access to a building. A firefighter with a trade background in roofing will know how to safely navigate a roof and look out for structural issues.

They could just save a fellow firefighter’s life thanks to their expertise! 

If Firefighting Isn’t a Trade, Then What Is It? 

We’ve made it clear that firefighting doesn’t technically slot into the definition of a trade. So what does that make firefighting?

Here are some other terms you can use around the firehouse outside of trade.


A job pays the bills, so technically, referring to firefighting as a job fits. Of course, don’t get this confused with jobtown, a firefighting slang term that refers to a dangerous structural fire that threatens to topple over the property. 


Referring to firefighting as an occupation versus a job sounds more dignified, even if the meanings are about the same. At least you don’t risk being misinterpreted by using the term occupation. 


Here’s one that all firefighters can agree with. The fellow firefighters in your squad are more than your colleagues, they’re your brothers or sisters. You work with them, eat with them, sleep beside them, laugh with them, and cry with them. 

The relationship you forge with your crew is something that only those in your field can appreciate. It’s an unshakable bond forged by fire (literally, in this case) and one of the most meaningful you’ll ever have in your life. 


Between the time and expense that training to become a firefighter entails, most people who pursue this role want a career in firefighting. A career can be for life or until a firefighter feels the need to shift into a less dangerous role. 


Lastly, firefighting is a lifestyle. You have a wildly different schedule than the average worker, and it’s much harder for you to leave your job at the “office.” You’re defined as a firefighter whether you’re on the clock or off, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. 


A trade is an occupation that requires manual labor and a special skillset that’s usually taught at a trade school or apprenticeship. Many fields qualify as trades, from car repair to electrical work, but firefighting isn’t one of them.

Although firefighting is a highly skilled job, it doesn’t meet all the criteria for what makes a trade. However, you will still undergo specialized training before working as a firefighter. More so, having trade skills in other fields will make you a more indispensable, skilled firefighter.

At the end of the day, whether you call firefighting a job, a lifestyle, an occupation, or a sisterhood or brotherhood, there’s no wrong way to refer to it!