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Firefighter Education Requirements – Requirements To Be a Firefighter

We recommend that you read our guide on how to become a firefighter, as it will answer many other questions you may have.

NOTE: There is no clear-cut road to becoming a firefighter, nor a “minimum required prior training.” The fire department will hire those who seem most desirable to them, so the more training and knowledge you have before applying, the better your chances are

Firefighter requirements are rather steep as far as public services go, though they are very far from being unachievable in the grand scheme of things. Requirements to be a firefighter are divided into two categories: those requirements which are officially required, and those requirements that are theoretically not necessary, but without which it’s practically impossible for you to be a firefighter.

Official Requirements To Be a Firefighter

These include:

  • Coming of age (18 or 21 years, depending on your state)
  • High School degree or equivalent
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Must be a US Citizen
  • Must undergo regular drug tests
  • Perfect 20/20 vision (corrected or natural)

These are the absolute bare minimum as far as firefighter requirements go.

Unofficial Firefighter Requirements

Below are the things you are “expected” to have if you really want to be a firefighter, and while many fire departments might not even mention any of those as a requirement when you apply, you can be confident that without the following, you won’t even be considered for hire:

EMT or Paramedic License

A firefighter’s duties are not limited to putting out fires; he/she must be able to help victims of: fires, chemical spills, gas leaks, tunnel or cave collapses, drowning, etc. Without at least an EMT certification, you can’t be counted on to help and hence you can’t be a successful fireman.

Most fire departments will actually list an EMT certificate as an education requirement to be a firefighter (though not all will explicitly say so), though in a few cases this won’t be enough and you might need to be certified as a paramedic, which takes a LOT of work and time. So unless you actually have a genuine passion and interest in becoming a paramedic, you should probably avoid applying to a fire department that lists a paramedic license as a requirement, as it likely won’t be worth your efforts.

Fire Academy Training

This is usually not listed by fire departments among the firefighter education requirements, though it’s fair to assume that unless you complete a fire academy or some sort of training prior to applying for the job, you’ll be discarded during the first phase of the application process. Fire training does not have to be expensive either – many community colleges offer it as part of their curriculum. Depending on the type of training you go for, expect it to last anywhere from 2 months to 2 years.

At fire academy you will acquire a ton of hands-on and theoretical knowledge that will come in handy in your career as a firefighter, such as proper use of power tools, axes, battering rams, sledge hammers, hoses, water pumps, mechanical and manual ladders, performing search and rescue missions, communicating properly with other firemen on your crew, chemical composition of hazardous materials, and MUCH more.

If you can’t apply to a fire academy, you can try to learn all of the above by yourself (books, hands-on practice, volunteer work etc.), though you must be prepared to somehow prove your knowledge in these subjects during the application process if you want to stand a chance.

If the above sounds like too much of a hassle to you, then you probably should re-consider a career as a firefighter. This is not a job that you can prepare for in a few weeks or months like when becoming a security guard – it’s a job for very passionate people. And if you are passionate, then chances are you are jumping up right now in excitement at the mere thought of attending a 2-year fire academy training – if this sounds about right, then you are on the right track.

You Must Be In Great Physical Shape

This one is obvious. Some fire departments will test your physical conditioning as part of their recruitment process, while other departments will only request a confirmation of your abilities (a CPAT certification, for example). Some fire academies will include thorough physical training for their students as well. At any rate, you should consider this one of the top requirements to be a firefighter.

Clean Background Record

A firefighter must be respectable and trustworthy. Expect a very thorough background check to be performed by a representative of the fire department right before you are hired. This background check will include:

  • Speaking to your friends and family members and asking them questions about your character.
  • Checking your driving history (having too many driving / parking tickets can disqualify you).
  • Checking whether you were convicted for a felony (this pretty much instantly disqualifies you).
  • Checking whether you have any misdemeanors under your belt (depending on the misdemeanor and how long ago it was, this could also disqualify you).

Being “good” and law-abiding will therefore go a long way and should definitely be considered one of the requirements to be a firefighter.

Must Be Mentally Stable

Firefighters are usually under a lot of stress on a daily basis and hence must demonstrate exceptional psychological stability. Before you are hired as a firefighter, you are going to undergo psychological examination by a licensed physician; this physician’s determination can have a significant influence on whether you are hired as a firefighter or not.

Educational Requirements To Be a Firefighter

While the requirements to be a fireman might seem kind of demanding when compared to other public service positions, they really aren’t so bad. In the end, it’s not rocket science; if are actually passionate about a firefighter’s career, the education requirements should be very easy for you to meet. It’s actually all quite fun and comparable to playing an awesome video game.

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