How to Become a Firefighter
Firefighters are true heroes who go above and beyond to ensure the safety of their country’s citizens. The job is not only noble, but it is highly coveted, with an average salary of over 47,000 dollars a year and a job growth rate of 19% predicted between the years of 2008-2018.  But if you want to be a firefighter, you have to think seriously about the impact the job can have on your physical and emotional well being, as well as the toll it can take on your family. Think you have what it takes to be a firefighter? Read on to find out.
Part One of Four:
Meeting the Requirements Edit
Be at least 18 years old. This is the minimum age requirement for being a firefighter. However, in some states, you will have to be at least 21 to apply, so look in to the requirements in your own state. 
Have a high school diploma or its equivalent. You’ll need to have a high school diploma or a GED to apply to be a firefighter. Remember that this is the bare minimum educational requirement; it’s a tough market, so you can up your chances by continuing your education (find out how in the next section).
Have a driver’s license. You will absolutely need a driver’s license to be a firefighter, not to mention a clean driving record. If you don’t have one yet, it’s about time to get around to it. Any firefighter should be available to be the driver at any time. 
Have a clean record. The fire department will run an extensive background check, so make sure that you don’t have any traffic issues, felonies, or records of chronic drug use in your past. The background check packet can be as long as 25 pages, so it will cover every little part of your existence. 
Get EMT training. Though this is not an absolute requirement, the majority of department do require EMT certification for all candidates and over 90% of them will require this certification after the hiring process. Firefighting isn’t all about putting out fires; in fact, many fire departments run over 70% or more emergency medical related responses, so having EMT training is crucial for success. Having the training will also make you a more desirable candidate because you have more experience and a better sense of what the job takes. 
- Also, having the certification means that the fire department will have to provide you with less training during your training process. This will make them even more inclined to hire you.
Part Two of Four:
Being a More Desirable Candidate Edit
Get an associates or a bachelor’s degree. Though a bachelor’s degree is not required, over 70% of people who want to be a firefighter eventually move on to other careers. So, to make yourself the most desirable candidate, you should ideally have an associates or a bachelor’s degree, studying topics that are relevant to firefighting, such as Math, Chemistry, Biology, Communication Skills, or even Computer Literacy. You can even go so far as to earn a degree in fire science or fire protection engineering. 
- Another degree option is enrolling in a 2-year Associate of Public Safety and Security degree. The curriculum will cover courses in criminal justice, terrorism, public administration, protection management, administrative law, screening, patrolling, cyber crime, dynamics of violence, etc. 
Become a licensed paramedic. If you have your EMT training, then you can apply to paramedic school. Again, this isn’t a requirement, but it will make you stand out during the application process. Many departments are actively looking for licensed paramedics. Of course, you shouldn’t go down this path unless you’re really interested in EMS and in being a paramedic; don’t go to paramedic school just to increase your chances of being a firefighter. 
Introduce yourself to the firehouses where you will apply. Before you send in your application, stop by the different firehouses to introduce yourself, get a sense of what the people are like, and have a better eye for how the firehouse operates. If you take this extra step (without being annoying), then you will sound like a more committed candidate when you are interviewed and can say things like, “One thing that really impressed me about the firehouse here was. ” This will make you sound more serious about your commitment. 
Volunteer in your community. Being a firefighter requires dedication and commitment to your community. Don’t volunteer just to up your chances of getting hired, but because you have a sincere interest in caring for your fellow citizens. You don’t have to do anything fire-related, either; just showing that you care about taking care of children, elders, or other people in your community who are in need reinforces your dedication. 
Work your way into the department in other ways. There are a few ways you can make yourself stand out in your community before you apply. Here are a few things to try: 
- Become a volunteer firefighter. You will still have to meet the basic requirements of being a firefighter, but won’t be compensated for your efforts. If you’re already doing this, it will make it easier for you to get hired as a firefighter, but if this is your career goal, you should want to be a salaried employee.
- Take a municipal job such as a 911 dispatcher
- Help out as a seasonal wildlife crew helper
Read up on the fire service. Here’s a great app to help you in your process https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/get-hired-as-a-firefighter/id975682761?mt=8 Before you get your foot in the door, you’ll have to learn as much as you can about the fire service in general. Though it’s important to learn the nitty-gritty of being a firefighter, it’s equally important to understand the general trends and concerns of the industry. It will be likely that the fire department may ask you questions like, “Where do you see the fire service in five years?” or “What are the two biggest concerns in this career field today?” So, know your stuff.