Fire Fighters picture    Fire Fighters image

Fire Fighters

Fire fighters protect the public and property from the dangers of fire. Typically, fire fighters deal with other types of emergencies more often than fires. Firefighters are often the first emergency workers at the scene of a medical emergency or traffic accident. They treat injuries and perform other vital tasks. The vast majority of fire fighters are employed by local governments.

While on duty, fire fighters need to be prepared to immediately respond to a fire or other types of emergencies. At emergency scenes, fire fighters perform specific tasks assigned to them by a superior officer. A firefighter's duties can change several times while the crew is at a scene. Sometimes they stay at a disaster location for days assisting with medical treatments and rescuing people that are trapped.

When firefighters are not dealing with emergency situations they clean and maintain their equipment and sometimes learn additional job related skills. They also participate in physical fitness activities and conduct practice drills.

Firefighters work in various environments including rural areas, metropolitan areas, chemical plants, industrial sites and airports. Some fire fighters are part of hazard material units that are trained for the cleanup and prevention of hazardous materials.

Those that specialize in forest fires use different equipment and methods than other fire fighters. When a forest fire occurs, these workers attempt to suppress the fire with heavy equipment and water hoses. They construct fire lines which involves cutting down trees and removing combustible types of vegetation that are in the path of a fire in order to deprive the fire of fuel. Smoke Jumpers are elite firefighters that parachute from airplanes in order to get to fire areas that are very hard to reach.


  • Find and rescue occupants of buildings and homes
  • Provide emergency medical attention
  • Connect hose lines to hydrants and operate a pump to transport water to high-pressure hoses
  • Ventilate smoke filled areas
  • Use systematic and careful procedures in order to extinguish fires
  • Use tools to get through walls, doors and debris
  • Read fire science literature in order to stay current with technological developments and changes in administrative practices and policies
  • Salvage items from buildings
  • Create written reports on fire incidents

Job Characteristics

They spend a lot of time at fire stations which are typically similar to dormitories. Fire fighting has a high risk of injury or death. They may also come into contact with radioactive materials and flammable, poisonous or explosive gases and chemicals which can have immediate or long-term negative effects on their health.

Fire fighters should have courage, mental alertness, strength, endurance and mechanical aptitude. They should also have a desire to serve the public. Since members of fire fighting crews live and work closely together they need to be able to get along well with others.

Many firefighters work about 50 hours per week or more. In some agencies, firefighters are on duty for 24 hours which is followed by being off duty for 48 hours and they get an additional day off at intervals. Other fire fighters have different types of work schedules. Fire captains and lieutenants often work the same hours as the firefighters they oversee.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 19 percent employment growth for fire fighters between 2008 and 2018 which is faster than average for all occupations. Keen competition is expected for fire fighting jobs. Those that score the highest on mechanical aptitude and physical-conditioning exams have the best opportunities. Individuals that have also completed some fire fighter education at a community college and have paramedic or EMT certification have an additional advantage.

The median annual earnings for fire fighters in 2008 was $44,260. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $72,210. Fire fighters typically have pension plans.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Applicants for fire fighter positions are usually required to have a high school diploma. Completing some secondary education or achieving an associate degree in fire science may improve a candidates chances for getting a job. Numerous colleges and universities offer two-year and four-year degrees in fire engineering or fire science.

Entry-level firefighters in large fire departments are trained for several weeks at the department's academy or training center. Practical training and classroom teaching are provided. After they complete their training they undergo a period of probation at a fire company. Many fire departments provide accredited apprenticeship programs which last up to four years, including programs in fighting forest fires. These programs combine on-the-job training with formal instruction.

Fire fighters in almost all departments need to be certified as emergency medical technicians. Most fire departments require the lowest level of certification which is Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-Basic). However, large departments in major metropolitan areas are increasingly requiring fire fighters to have paramedic certification. Some fire departments provide this type of training in a fire academy, however some fire departments prefer candidates acquire EMT certification on their own, but they are usually given up to one year to achieve EMT certification.

Candidates for municipal firefighter positions typically are required to pass a written exam and tests of physical stamina, strength, coordination and agility as well as a medical examination that includes drug screening. Candidates that achieve the highest scores in all areas of testing have the best chances for getting a job.


Major Employers

The top employers are local governments.

Schools for Fire Fighters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Fire Fighters

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Fire Fighters jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 8,680 $81,450
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 7,890 $55,580
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 7,020 $64,600
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 6,590 $38,610
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 6,570 $47,360
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 4,090 $80,010
Cleveland-Elyria 3,830 $46,910
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 3,810 $90,760
Columbus 3,680 $53,690
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 3,580 $50,530
Total Employment for Fire Fighters - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
Compare Total Employment for Fire Fighters

Use our handy tool to see what employment numbers look like for two different metro areas

Salaries for Fire Fighters - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
Compare Salaries for Fire Fighters

Use our handy tool to see what salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Total employment and salary for professions similar to fire fighters

Most Popular Industries for
Fire Fighters

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 288,180 99% $44,700
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire Science
  • Master of Public Administration - Fire and Emergency Services
  • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management

Anna Maria College is a private, not-for-profit, Catholic liberal arts institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Founded by the Sisters of Saint Anne in 1946, AMC's programs integrate liberal education and professional preparation that reflect the respect for liberal arts and sciences education grounded in the traditions of the Sisters of Saint Anne—educational innovation, service to others, and access to a quality education for all.

  • Certificate in Emergency Preparedness
  • Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology
Benedictine University offers a liberal arts and professional education guided by Roman Catholic tradition. We prepare our students for a lifetime of leadership and responsible citizenry.
  • Criminal Justice (11-Month Diploma Program)
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security
  • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
  • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
  • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • Ranked in the top 25 Best Regional Universities in the Midwest for 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Ranked in the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs for 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Recognized by Colleges of Distinction on the 2014 Illinois and Catholic schools lists.
  • Offers more than 80 undergraduate programs and majors, and 25 graduate programs.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
  • Its main campus is in Romeoville, Illinois, with regional campuses in Chicago, Oak Brook, Tinley Park, Hickory Hills, and Shorewood.
  • Criminal Justice (Doctorate) - Online
  • Behavioral Crime Analysis Certificate
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
  • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
  • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
  • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
  • Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • The first and only 100% online, fully accredited public university in the United States
  • No set class times or locations
  • Affordable tuition, guaranteed not to increase as long as you are enrolled
  • Accelerated eight-week terms
  • Classes start every month
  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies
  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and Cyber Security
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance - Cybersecurity Specialization
Advance your career with Regis University College for Professional Studies. We offer bachelor's and master's degrees in the areas of education and counseling, management, computer and information sciences, and humanities and social sciences.
  • Criminal Justice - Associate of Applied Science
  • Part of the Delta Career Education Corporation.
  • Each campus features a public spa and/or salon where students can gain real-world experience.
  • 17 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent colleges and Schools (ACICS), with programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • Originally founded in 1916 in Wilmington, North Carolina by Judge Leon Motte.

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Fire Fighters.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top