Long hours, hazardous conditions and extreme dangers might not seem like the ideal career choice. However, firefighters are also known as heroes, saving the day when fire threatens property and lives. Trained to fight red-hot flames and more, these civil servants are part of an elite team that dates back to ancient Egyptian times. This highly competitive field requires candidates to be in top physical shape in order to meet the tough challenges they will face as a firefighter.
What do Firefighters Do?
While the name firefighter implies that the job entails fighting fires, the job actually includes much more. They work closely with other emergency responder services and are frequently the first on the scene at accidents and emergency situations. Anyone in this field must usually be a trained Emergency Medical Technician. They may be paid, volunteer or part-time and there are also specialized areas of expertise. Some may be arson investigators, forest fire inspectors or prevention specialists.
Many career firefighters spend long hours living at the firehouse so that they are ready to respond immediately to any emergency. While there, they live and work as a team in a dorm-like living environment. In a disaster situation, they may also spend many days at the site assisting any rescue efforts or battling flames. They must also be well drilled in the proper care of any equipment including the operating pumps, generators and other related equipment. Because this equipment is crucial in everyday operations, it must constantly be maintained.
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While most fire departments require only a high school diploma, because of the high level of applicants, a college degree is preferred. All entry level candidates will be required to attend a departmental training program where they will learn firefighting techniques, emergency medical procedures and how to deal with hazardous materials. Most states also require emergency medical training certificates. At the end of this period, candidates will enter an apprenticeship that may last up to four years before certification.
Benefits and Outlook
A firefighting career will never be boring. Each day will bring a different adventure and the outlook for this career is positive. The average salary of a firefighter is over $45,000 and many departments offer a 24 hour on shift followed by 48 hours off. There are also frequently overtime opportunities available. There is also generally medical benefits, insurance, vacation, sick and holiday time available. The median hourly rate for an entry level firefighter is $18.47 while supervisory positions have a median annual salary of $58,920.
A career as a firefighter commands respect and can make a difference in the community. Very few jobs will also ever provide the family bond and camaraderie that they get with the members of their crew. In addition, there are many advancement opportunities for a motivated individual. This fast-paced, in demand career is perfect for anyone who wants the satisfaction of helping others while doing something new and exciting every day.