Fireman: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements
Do you work well under pressure? Are you physically strong and possess leadership abilities? If you are, you may pursue a career as a firefighter. For more details on this career, job outlook and educational requirements for firefighters, read on. Schools offering Fire Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What is the Career Summary of a Firefighter?
Firefighters are often the first responders to fires, medical emergencies and traffic accidents located in all types of settings. They save property from damage due fire and other disasters. Another important aspect of of your job will be to rescue individuals in danger and administer first aid, which includes performing resuscitation, when necessary.
As a firefighter, you'll extinguish fires with the use of water delivered through high-pressure hoses or by fire extinguishers. Your firefighting equipment will also include axes and crowbars to gain entrance into structures and ladders to reach upper level floors. When a building cannot be saved from a fire, you may assist in recovering important items within the structure.
You'll work long shifts that may last for 24 hours or more. When not responding to an emergency, your time will be spent at your fire station cleaning and maintaining equipment, training and exercising.
What is the Job Outlook?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of firefighters was expected to grow about 19% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). Job prospects were expected to be most favorable for applicants who were in peak physical condition, had obtained some firefighting education and who pass mechanical aptitude examinations, says the BLS.
If you worked as a firefighter in May 2010, you would have earned an average annual salary of $48,370. If you were a federal government employee during this period, your average annual salary was $48,990.
What Education Requirements Should I Complete?
Most fire departments require a high school diploma, although it has become more common for applicants to have taken fire engineering courses or to have earned an associate's or bachelor's degree in fire science. You'll find these degree programs cover topics such as hazardous materials, fire investigation, computer applications, fire protection systems and fire emergency survival. As an alternative to college, you may consider 4-year apprenticeship programs offered by several fire departments.
As a new recruit, you must complete training at a firefighting academy before you'll be permanently hired as a firefighter. At an academy, you'll learn building codes, fire fighting procedures, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), fire prevention techniques and the proper use of firefighting tools and rescue equipment.
You must also become a certified emergency medical technician or, in some larger cities, a certified paramedic. This medical training may be included in your academy program or you may have to acquire it elsewhere. Other typical requirements include passing a physical examination, a drug test and a written examination. Also, you must be at least 18 years old.
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