Career Guide | How Much Do Firefighters Make?

firefighters putting out a fire

Firefighters are important members of our communities. They are brave emergency workers, trained to tackle all kinds of emergency situations.

Explore this Guide:

What Do Firefighters Do?

Firefighters are a type of emergency responder. They respond to many different kinds of emergencies but primarily focus their expertise on fires.

Firefighters are first responders that don’t just look out for other people, they also rescue property and the environment.

Some of the duties of a firefighter include the following:

  • putting out fires
  • using water hoses and fire extinguishers
  • rescue victims from burning buildings
  • maintain their firefighting equipment
  • perform regular practice drills

How to Become a Firefighter

As far as career paths go, there aren’t too many steps to becoming a firefighter. In fact, the steps to becoming a firefighter are simple, the catch is that firefighter training can be difficult and test your physical stamina.

1. Graduate High School

+4 years

Many firefighter stations and programs will require that you at least have a high school diploma.

2. Attend a Fire Academy

+12 to 14 weeks

A fire academy is a type of firefighter school. Firefighters have to undergo special training before they can work as firefighters. To become a firefighter you will need to pass written tests, physical tests, get interviewed, and undergo intense training at a fire academy.

If you’re looking for a firefighter school near me, contact your local fire department. They should be able to get you the details. Fire academies are usually run by the local fire department or the state. There you will study firefighting, fire prevention, building codes, and other emergency training.

3. Get an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification

+3 weeks

While you are undergoing all the training required to become a firefighter, you will want to get certified as an EMT. The requirements for EMTs are different depending on your state and city.

Firefighters need to be certified EMTs because they are emergency responders who deal with a wide variety of emergency situations. They need to be prepared for anything.

Requirements to Become a Firefighter

The requirements to become a firefighter might be fewer than some other careers, but each firefighter requirement is a serious responsibility. So if you were wondering, “what do you need to become a firefighter?” remember that the training involved in each of these firefighting requirements will test your mental, emotional, and physical capabilities.

  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Fire School Training
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification
  • Firefighter Certification 1
  • Firefighter Certification 2

Farrier Firefighting School

The Farrier Firefighting School is one of the most prominent firefighting schools in the US. In fact, Farrier Firefighting School also has ties to the Department of Defense, training sailors and other service workers all about being a firefighter.

How Long is Firefighter School?

After seeing that becoming a firefighter involves a specific kind of schooling, you might be wondering, how long is firefighter school? Many people don’t want to spend years and years going to school before they can get a job.

Fortunately, firefighter school only lasts about 12 to 14 weeks! So you won’t have to give up years of your life just to become trained as a firefighter. Most firefighter schools require about 600 hours of total training. This means that while in firefighter school you’ll have to dedicate about 40 to 48 hours each week to the firefighting program.

Firefighter Academy Cost?

How much does it cost to become a firefighter? Well, that depends on the route you take to becoming a firefighter and which fire school you go to. A typical fire academy can cost between $3,998 and $5,300 depending on which fire school program you attend.

But there are free options too, like the National Fire Academy (NFA) at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) where all tuition and course materials are provided for you.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Firefighter?

A career as a firefighter is one job that doesn’t require a long 4-year college education. Instead, all you need to do is graduate high school and undergo training that typically lasts a matter of weeks. So including your time spent in high school, becoming a firefighter only takes about 4 1/2 years.

How to Become a Volunteer Firefighter

So you want to become a volunteer firefighter. Requirements for volunteer firefighters are going to vary by fire department, but in general, the following steps will apply:

First, you have to be at least 18 years old. Second, you need a high school diploma or the equivalent of a high school diploma (like a GED). Lastly, you’ll need to pass written exams, physical exams, drug screenings, and background checks given by your local fire department. Once that is all done you can start working as a volunteer firefighter for your local fire department.

How to Become a Wildland Firefighter

To become a wildland firefighter you’ll want to go through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). With the NWCG you’ll undergo physical and educational training.

You’ll learn all about forestry, agriculture, wildlife management, soil science, and so much more. Because wildland firefighters are held to such a high physical standard, it is generally required for wildland firefighters to be between 18 and 35 years old.

Wildland firefighters also only work during fire season, months of the year where wildland fires are more likely. Fire season is between January and March. Hiring season for wildland firefighters is between October and December.

How to Become a Hotshot Firefighter

Hotshot firefighters are wildland or forest firefighters that work in the hottest parts of wildfires. You can sign up as a part of a Hotshot Crew with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and your local state and county agencies.

Hotshot firefighters have similar requirements to all other types of firefighters. They have to meet physical requirements of stamina and train in operational procedures for handling the hottest sections of wildfires.

All IHCs must meet the same stringent standards for physical fitness, training, leadership, qualifications, and operational procedures, as outlined in the Standards for Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations. To become a hotshot firefighter, contact your local hotshot program with the US Forest Service.

Skills Firefighters Need

Communication Skills Firefighters need to be able to communicate quickly, clearly, and effectively with the citizens they help protect and their fellow firefighters. To effectively tackle every new emergency scenario, they need impeccable communication skills.

Courage One of the biggest skills any firefighter needs is bravery. Firefighters run into burning buildings to rescue people. They put their lives at risk at their jobs and need to have a healthy dose of courage to do so.

Physical Stamina Firefighters’ work deals mostly with physical labor. They operate heavy equipment, wield axes, and large water hoses, all while dressed in heavy protective gear. To withstand the physical labor they do every day, firefighters need to have physical strength and endurance.

Decision Making A common skill that those working in emergency situations always need is great decision-making skills. They need to know their training backward and forwards so that they can make smart, responsible decisions quickly.

Different Kinds of Firefighters


  • How Much Do Firefighter Paramedics Make? $53,003
  • How Much Do Volunteer Firefighters Make? $48,131
  • How Much Do Firefighter Engineers Make? $72,323
  • How Much Do Forest Firefighters Make? $59,130
  • How Much Do Air Force Firefighters Make? $52,234
  • How Much Do Reserve Firefighters Make? $33,587
  • How Much Do Wildland Firefighters Make? $58,334

How Much Do Firefighters Make a Year?


  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the lower 10% Make? $25,550 per year
  • How Much is a Firefighters’ Median Salary? $50,850 per year
  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the highest 10% Make? $92,020 per year

How Much Do Firefighters Make a Month?


  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the lower 10% Make? $2,129 per month
  • How Much is a Firefighters’s Median Salary? $4,237 per month
  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the highest 10% Make? $7,668 per month

How Much Do Firefighters Make a Week?


  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the lower 10% Make? $532 per week
  • How Much is a Firefighters’s Median Salary? $1,059 per week
  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the highest 10% Make? $1,917 per week

How Much Do Firefighters Make an Hour?


  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the lower 10% Make? $10.60 per hour
  • How Much is a Firefighters’s Median Salary? $15.51 per hour
  • How Much Does a Firefighters in the highest 10% Make? $26.72 per hour

Firefighters Pay by Location


  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in Texas? $54,760
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in California? $84,370
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in Florida? $51,300
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in AZ (Arizona)? $46,870
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in NC (North Carolina)? $34,110
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in Ohio? $47,820
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in Chicago? $34,989
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in Colorado? $63,050
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in Utah? $38,360
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in NJ (New Jersey)? $80,890
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make in NY (New York)? $75,160

Firefighters Pay by Experience


  • How Much Do Entry Level Firefighters Make? $40,979
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make with 1–4 Years of Experience? $41,821
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make with 5–9 Years of Experience? $48,492
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make with 10–19 Years of Experience? $56,219
  • How Much Do Firefighters Make with 20 or More Years of Experience? $69,565


PayScale. “Average Fire Fighter Salary,” “Average Firefighter Paramedic Salary,” “Average Volunteer Firefighter Salary.”

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Firefighters.”

Government Jobs. “Firefighter.”

Glassdoor. “Firefighter/Engineer Salaries.”

Recruiter. “Salary for Forest Firefighters.”

Indeed. “U.S. Air Force Firefighter yearly salaries in the United States,” “How much does a Firefighter make in the United States?”


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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