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How to become a Firefighter

Firefighters respond to emergency calls for a variety of disasters, including fires, chemical spills, gas leaks, rescue missions, and accidents. Their main job is to protect lives and property. They may also help by spreading awareness and education to the wider community about fire safety.

If you can work well under extreme pressure, are fit and healthy, and want to give back to your community, a career as a firefighter could be perfect for you.

What skills do I need as a firefighter?

  • Resilient & confident
  • Responsible & reliable
  • Can work well under extreme pressure
  • Very fit & healthy
  • Team player
  • Can remain calm in extremely stressful situations
  • Great communicator & leader
  • Prepared to work on-call & on holidays

What does the job involve?

  • Attend fires & extinguish them
  • Rescue & evacuate people in dangerous situations
  • Operate pumps, hoses, ladders, oxygen tanks & other equipment
  • Participate in search & rescue missions
  • Work with other emergency services personnel
  • Administer first aid
  • Maintain tools & equipment
  • Train recruits in procedures & practices
  • Educate the community on fire safety
  • Implement fire safety plans & procedures in offices, schools & other places

What industries do firefighters typically work in?

  • Public Administration and Safety
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing
  • Construction

What Career Cluster do firefighters belong to?

Firefighters are dedicated to protecting our safety and wellbeing, so they make excellent Guardians.

What kind of lifestyle can I expect?

There are very few part-time opportunities available for firefighters, and you’ll need to be prepared to work on-call any time of the day or night, as well as on holidays and weekends. Expect to work an average of around 47 hours a week.

Working as a firefighter comes with a huge level of responsibility, and you may have to see confronting situations. You need to be prepared to jump into action at any time. You won’t be able to work from home or remotely as a firefighter, as you need to be on-site to perform all the required duties.

Most firefighters earn an average salary each year, but this can vary depending on experience and location.

How to become a firefighter

There are typically no educational requirements to become a firefighter, but you will likely need to go through a thorough recruitment and training process before you can start work.

The recruitment process usually involves a combination of fitness tests, personality and/or psychometric testing, interviews and background checks, and medical assessments. You will also need to hold a full driver’s license. If you make it through this process successfully, you will then undergo a rigorous course of training, which can take anywhere from a few weeks up to several months in length.

On successful completion of the recruit training course, you will then be able to work as a firefighter. In some cases, you may need to undergo a probationary period before you a offered a full-time contract.

If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a firefighter is right for you, here are a few things you could do right now:

  1. Work on your fitness, resilience and leadership skills. You can do this through volunteering in your local community, participating in team sports, and even through casual work.
  2. See if you can find work experience or volunteer with your local fire station. Some even offer cadet and youth programs that can help you get a head-start on your training and experience.
  3. Talk to a firefighter and see if it sounds like a job you could do. The job comes with a lot of responsibility and can be extremely stressful, but it can also be very rewarding.

Where can I find more information?

You can read detailed information on the recruitment and training process for firefighters in your location here:

New Zealand
United States

Similar careers to firefighter

  • Paramedic
  • Police officer
  • Emergency services worker
  • Workplace health & safety officer
  • Emergency nurse
  • Security officer
  • Disaster management officer
  • Emergency call operator

Find out more about alternative careers.


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