Each state, county or city fire department’s qualifications may vary, but you must have a High School Diploma or a G.E.D. A two-year Associates Degree in Fire Science from a Junior College will make you a desirable candidate. Should you pursue a four-year degree from the State College or University system, this may show the potential employer that you are serious about advancement within the Fire Service.
Many Fire Departments are providing Paramedic or Advanced Life Support services.
This enhanced service has greatly increased the survival rate of those who are seriously ill or injured. Obtaining a Paramedic License in addition to a higher education is essential and may be necessary depending on the requirements of the jurisdiction for which you are applying. Paramedics carry a wide variety of equipment used to treat injuries and illness. They are highly trained professionals.
Experience, along with a solid educational background, will also be an advantage to you. You may join an “explorer” program or volunteer as a firefighter should you live in or near a community with a volunteer department. The California Conservation Corp and the California Department of Forestry offer seasonal opportunities as a firefighter. The Armed Forces offers specialized training in firefighting and emergency medical care in the enlisted ranks. Should you choose to join the military for experience, it is HIGHLY recommended that you take advantage of every educational opportunity offered to you. As you serve in the military, you will develop a sense of personal responsibility, discipline and maturity, understand teamwork and be able to perform under pressure. These personal characteristics are what EVERY employer, public and private, looks for when considering an applicant.
After meeting the requirements of the agency you choose, you must go through their entrance requirements which may consist of a written exam, a physical ability test, an oral interview, a medical examination and a background investigation. Be aware that there will be many applicants for few positions. The competition is high and it is imperative that you become the best qualified candidate for selection. Being a firefighter is more than a career, there are many specialized fields within the Fire Service. Much can be said about anyone who would place themselves in harm’s way for a stranger. Courage, dedication to duty, and personal sacrifice are qualities not easily found in many people. If you are considering fulfilling your ambition to be a firefighter, research the possibilities, study consistently and remain focused on the goal.