Description: Firefighters control and extinguish fires or respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk. Duties may include fire prevention, emergency medical service, hazardous material response, search and rescue, and disaster management.
Knowledge Required: Physics, chemistry, physiology
Skills: Almost all departments require fire fighters to be certified as emergency medical technicians. Firefighters must also know how to use firefighting tools such as chainsaws, axes, fire extinguishers, ladders, etc.
Career Path: Most fire fighters have a high school diploma - however, the completion of community college courses or, in some cases, an associates degree in fire science may improve an applicant's chances for a job. A number of colleges and universities offer courses leading to 2-year or 4-year degrees in fire engineering or fire science.
Best Cities for this job: All city governments maintain a fire department - the bigger the city, the bigger the fire department. Most of the fire fighters not employed by local governments work in fire departments on Federal and State installations, including airports. Private fire fighting companies employ a small number of fire fighters.
Median Annual Income: National: $47,270 CA: $66,950
Future Growth: Employment of fire fighters is expected to grow by 19 percent over the 2008–18 decade. Most of the job growth will stem from volunteer positions being converted into paid positions.
From the field: “When we show up, someone needs help. And we are able to provide that help to the best of our abilities. It really makes you feel good and warm inside. It makes you want to come into work the next day and do the same thing all over again” -Robert Logan, Fire Fighter.
Did you know? Fire fighters are often the first emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident or medical emergency and may be called upon to treat injuries or perform other vital functions.View more Day in the Life videos »