How to become a Firefighter

What can disqualify you from becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT)?

You wouldn’t think there’d be such a long line of men and women ready to run into a burning building while everyone else is running away – but, with hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants each year, the firefighting field is quite competitive. 

It goes without saying, firefighting is no easy task and takes a lot of hard work and dedication. 

Are you up for the challenge?

Eligibility Requirements

In order to become a firefighter, you must first meet these basic eligibility requirements.

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have 20/20 eyesight
  • Be able to pass a drug test
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Be physically fit
  • CPR Certification

Although the minimum age requirement is 18, some firehouses have opportunities for junior firefighters to gain limited on-the-job training as young as 16 years old. 

In addition to minimum age requirements, some firehouses have age limits as well, ranging from 28-30 years old. 

While having a high school diploma or GED is required to become a firefighter, many firefighters continue their education and earn fire science degrees. Having a higher education can increase the chances of getting hired. 

Furthermore, many firefighters also decide to become certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). While this certification is required by some firehouses, it is not required everywhere. But it can help set you apart from the rest of the applicants. 

**Some of these requirements vary by state, so it’s important to check with your local fire department. 


The Application Process

The firefighter application process can be quite lengthy, so prepare yourself to work for it. 

When looking to hire new firefighters, fire departments generally participate in recruitment or job fairs. If you’re unable to find one near you, call your local fire station and see if they’re looking for new recruits. If they’re not currently looking to hire anyone, ask if they’re interested in volunteers. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door and get some on-the-job training. 

Once chosen as an applicant, you’ll be required to take a series of exams including:

  • Written exam
  • Oral exam
  • Psychological Exam
  • Physical Agility Exam

The written exam consists of math, human relations, problem-solving, judgment, reasoning, memory, and written communication. 

The oral exam or interview doesn’t require any studying. It covers both short and long-term career goals as well questions surrounding why you want to be a firefighter and how you envision your future career. 

The physical test, also known as the CPAT, is designed to take your body to it’s limit. This test is not only physically but also mentally demanding. 

Fueled by fire, driven by courage

Once you’ve passed the test, and gotten your job offer, it’s time for the real work to begin. Long hours, sleepless nights, the most physically demanding work you’ve ever done — but with the right preparation, it’s nothing you can’t handle.