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How To Become a Firefighter in New Jersey

The following step by step guide will answer the most common questions on how to become a firefighter in New Jersey (NJ). We’ll discuss minimum state requirements, the hiring procedure and required certifications, average salaries, fire training requirements, and more. This guide will be helpful for anyone in New Jersey, be it Trenton, Newark, or any other community. Let’s begin by locating fire departments in New Jersey.

Locating Fire Departments in New Jersey

Begin by browsing through a list of New Jersey fire departments. Firefighter requirements can vary slightly from one department to another, so it’s important to personally confirm the situation with your department(s) of choice. Additionally, some departments hire two or three times a year, while other departments do so once every 2, 3 or even 4 years.

Minimum Requirements For Becoming a Firefighter in New Jersey

Certain departments might have additional minimum requirements so please consult them on this.

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must have a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate
  • Must possess a driver’s license valid in the state of New Jersey
  • Must be able to pass a drug test and background test

Honorably discharged army veterans are usually preferred in the hiring process. Those with two or more years of volunteer firefighting experience are also preferred by most fire departments.

Is a Fire Degree Required to Become a Firefighter in NJ?

Fire education is not required to apply for a fireman position in most New Jersey fire departments, though it will be necessary to get a Firefighter II certification before your probationary period (if you are hired) is complete. However in certain communities, for example Newark, you must hold a Firefighter Training (don’t confuse this with fire education) certificate even before you can apply for a job. Keep in mind that these rules and requirements can change when new laws are introduced, so for the most up-to-date information you must contact your fire department of choice.

It’s always a good idea however to get some form of firefighter education under your belt before you apply for the job. Many applicants nowadays have a 2-year fire degree, and they are more likely to be considered for the job than someone with no fire education at all. Some examples of facilities with fire training programs include:

Make sure to contact some New Jersey community colleges as well, which often offer some form of fire education.

The Firefighter Hiring Process in New Jersey

The actual hiring process in New Jersey varies significantly from county and department to another, much more so than in other states. As such, we will not be providing a step-by step breakdown as we’d need to do so for each of the hundreds of New Jersey departments, which would not be practical. You can however expect any and all of the following (in no particular order):

Written exam: in most cases you’ll have to pass a written exam, which follows an A/B/C/D multiple-choice format. You’ll be answering general knowledge-type questions, not related directly to the fire service. Solving simple math and logic problems, reading instructions and then presenting your interpretation of them, and other similar tasks that can be completed relatively easily. The test usually lasts 2 to 3 hours.

Oral Interview: don’t mistake this one for an exam. It’s just an interview, much like any regular job interview. A panel of usually 3 to 5 fire department lieutenants and/or chiefs will form a panel, and ask you many personal questions. Contrary to the written exam, expect to receive a few basic questions relating to the fire service. The questions will not be technical though, and if you have a true interested in becoming a firefighter and have done some reading on the subject, you’ll should have no problem passing the interview.

Background check: only those who successfully complete both the written exam and the oral interview undergo the background check. Your friends and family will be contacted and questions about your personality, past, and character will be asked. A thorough check of your former encounters with the law will be conducted as well. You can’t have any felony convictions on your record. A misdemeanor might disqualify you as well, though this will depend on the individual case.

Physical and psychological testing: the fire department must be 100% certain you are physically and mentally capable of carrying out the duties of a New Jersey firefighter. Your body fat levels, mental stability, blood and urine samples, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular system efficiency will be evaluated.

Physical ability test: this can be either conducted by the fire department itself, or by a third-party (such us the famous CPAT test). Learn more about the challenges you are likely to face during the ability test in our CPAT guide.

Probationary period: if you pass all the stages of the recruitment process, you’ll be placed on a waiting list. Once a free spot opens up at the department, you’ll be contacted by the fire department to begin your 1 year (sometimes 6 months) probationary period. It’s during this time that you will need to learn as much as possible about the inner workings of New Jersey fire stations. It’s also at this time that you will likely need to complete your Firefighter II training, and acquire an EMT/Paramedic certificate (if required).

Other, Department-Specific Requirements

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • After you are hired, a respiratory test will be performed on a regular basis, around once a year. Make sure to stay in perfect physical shape, otherwise you could be discharged from the fire service.
  • Depending on the fire department, and especially in Newark, NJ, you might need to acquire a few other extra certifications, before your probationary period is over. Some of these may include: Hazardous Material Awareness Training, Incident Management System certification, and Blood-borne Pathogens Training.

Is EMT or Paramedic Training Required To Become a New Jersey Fireman?

Unfortunately, the answer will again depend on the fire department you are applying at. Many departments will require that you possess an EMT ( Emergency medical technician) or even the more advanced Paramedic certification. Some fire departments however will only require this from those who wish to become medics in the fire department.

What Is The Average Salary of a Firefighter in New Jersey?

As of August 2013, the average salary of a New Jersey firefighter is $48,500 annually, while the mean is $70,160. The mean salary for above-average firefighters with 5+ years of experience is over $105,000 a year. Fire battalion chiefs in New Jersey can earn as much as $140,000+ a year.

The highest-paying cities in New Jersey include Newark, Camden and Atlantic city.

How To Become a Firefighter in New Jersey (NJ) – Summary

We hope this guide has been useful and will help point you in the right direction. Remember: the requirements for becoming a New Jersey firefighter vary significantly from one community to another, so it’s very important to contacted your chosen fire departments to have a clear picture of what to expect. Please e-mail us or leave a comment below if you need more help.

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