How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter? (7 STEPS)

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter

Firefighting is a noble profession, and building an upright career like this takes time and effort.

So, how long does it take to become a firefighter and get paid properly?

With a high-school diploma or GED, you can become a firefighter in less than a year.

The time period depends on your capability to develop all the basic and advanced training skills of firefighting.

Usually, most academies are done with their training sessions within 6-8 months if you continue on a regular basis.

However, to become a well-paid professional, it might take you at least 2-3 years.

If you’re interested in discovering all about this amazing line of work, stay with us till the end.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter?

A lot goes into becoming a firefighter. From the fire academy, you pursue to the municipality designated, everything plays a role in determining the time length of learning firefighting.

It also depends on what kind of work you’re planning to do.

If you want to pursue firefighting just for working as a volunteer firefighter, you can achieve it within 3-4 weeks.

However, if your goal is to become a well-paid and professional firefighter, the journey will take time.

To become a professional, it will take you 6 months to even a year.

The time frame varies from one fire academy to another and even among municipalities.

Besides, not all departments follow the same time length, so that’s something you need to keep in mind as well.

There are examples of some fire academies taking up to 1.5 years in completing their training.

Again, if you want to be highly skilled in firefighting and achieve absolute success in this career, you might not achieve it within a year.

It will take you 2 years or more to achieve triumph in this line of work.

Why Does Firefighter Training Take So Long

Why Does Firefighter Training Take So Long?

Firefighter training is challenging and requires an uphill battle on an everyday basis. The training is expected to be hard-working and vigorous because of the fact that lives depend on this job.

Firefighters have to go through dangerous situations and come up with immediate responses that will determine how to save a person’s life.

Apart from the traditional firefighter training, they also have to acquire knowledge in different sectors like emergency medicine (EMT training), potential high-risk substances, etc.

This is why fire academy training takes a long time to complete.

Since this field of work is very tough, the training program is equally difficult and long drawn out.

Steps to Become a Firefighter

Steps to Become a Firefighter

A high-school diploma or GED will ensure you a job in the local fire department, but to be an adept and skilled firefighter, you need to undergo a lot of training.

Since your job will be saving lives and property and minimizing damage, you should put a lot of effort into building your skills. Here are some steps that can smoothen your path in becoming a highly qualified firefighter

1.     Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Training/ Paramedic Training

The most important training that a firefighter needs to go through is paramedic training emergency medical technician (EMT) training. If you don’t have an EMT certification, you might not be able to apply in most fire departments.

This is because firefighters respond to medical emergency calls more than calls to extinguish fires. Since this profession involves dealing with medical emergencies, getting an EMT certification or a paramedic certification is a great first step to help you get a solid job in the firefighting department.

2.     Degree on Fire Science

People once assumed that firefighter jobs are mostly manual jobs that don’t require any further education. But with the changes in time, this idea has completely disappeared.

The firefighting career has evolved over time, and the competitive side of the profession has totally changed the game. Back in the day, only a high-school diploma could guarantee you a secured job in most departments.

However, to become a firefighter today, you will need a local community college degree. Community colleges have special bachelor’s degrees in fire sciences that can be a huge boost for your career advancement.

With a 2-year associate degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree, you can secure a well-established job in maximum fire departments in no time.

If you don’t to go through such a lengthy process or if you don’t have the time to pursue an extra fire science degree, you can opt for special fire science classes. They might not be a game-changer, but you can still become a strong candidate for applying to the fire academy.

3.     Volunteer Experience

Volunteer experience can be an exceptional element to include in your resume. Most aspiring firefighters are seen gaining some kind of volunteer experience over the years to hone their basic skills. Gaining experience is the ultimate key to becoming a competent firefighter.

Volunteer firefighters have to go through the same challenging and daunting tasks, fight fires, and rescue lives.

You won’t get paid for it, but the amount of experience you’ll gain is definitely remarkable.

This can also be a positive part of your resume, and you’ll definitely be given priority over someone who has had no experience in the sector.

However, keep in mind that volunteers have to go through at least 100 hours of study in a fire service course endorsed by the National Fire Protection Association.

4.     Application/Hiring Process

The hiring process can take some time as firefighters are hired in batches and not individually. You have to pass a lot of tests and go through background checks to finally get hired.

Since this can be a lengthy process, you should not wait for a single department and apply in the maximum possible vacancies.

Starting from the application, candidate physical ability test, written test, valid driver’s license, background check, drug test, interviews to medical exam — you need to go through many stages to get hired by a fire department. This can take a few weeks to even a few years, so patience is very important.

5.     Fire Academy

If you’ve passed all the stages, obtained an EMT certification, and your candidacy has stood out above minimum requirements — it’s still not over. You might’ve become a firefighter recruit and joined the fire academy, but your journey is still a long way to go.

You will have to complete almost 6 months of post-hiring training or advanced pre-employment training to become a competent firefighter.

This is the phase where you’ll learn to attend medical calls, tackle emergency cases, get comfortable with your everyday job in the fire department, learn team management skills with fellow firefighters, and so on.

The post-hiring training or post-secondary training is the ultimate road to success in the fire service.

Every day is a new challenge, and every moment is like a completely different lesson in a firefighter’s job.

6.     Probationary Period

When you’re done with your training sessions in the fire departments, the next phase is going through the probationary period. This is the period where you put your skills into action and finally do the job you were destined to do.

During this period, you have to work with skilled firefighters, learn from your own experiences and execute emergency responses.

You will have a supervisor within your 1–2-year probation, and he/she will monitor your actions and decide if you’re competent to become a professional firefighter.

7.     Continuing Development

You might’ve passed all your tests, completed your training, aced your probation, and managed to become a paid firefighter — but it doesn’t mean you’ve mastered everything about firefighting.

Firefighting is a never-ending course, and there is no end to learning here.

There is always something to learn on the job, starting from reading about newly launched equipment to updated medical management protocols.

You can also broaden your knowledge by learning new fire investigation techniques, fire inspector duties and by attending different specialized training programs in academies all around the country.

How Often Does a Fire Department Hire Firefighters

How Often Does a Fire Department Hire Firefighters?

Many departments hire a new batch of firefighters once or twice a year.

Usually, firefighters are hired in groups of 10-20 and assigned to specific fire departments in the fire academy based on their skills and abilities.

Most fire departments in smaller cities hire firefighters in a year or two, while those in major cities hire more frequently due to the increasing demand.

Getting hired is also a very long process, and the entire process can take a few weeks to even 5 years.

You should always keep your options open and apply in both small and big cities to stay on the safe side.

Final Words

So, if you’re wondering how long does it take to become a firefighter — you should be expecting a time frame of a few months to years.

You can’t become a competent firefighter in a day, and the process will take time, effort, and patience.

So, if you’re thinking of a possible career in firefighting, start with some volunteer service and slowly build your skills to apply for a firefighter job.

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