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How Long Does It Take To Become A Firefighter?

You are interested in becoming a firefighter. It’s a dangerous job. Fighting fires takes determination, passion, a love for people, and most of all – guts. Not everyone can run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. There are several different steps to becoming a firefighter and the length of time depends on what your abilities and goals are in the field.   Remember, it is very competitive and only the best candidates are guaranteed to make it through to actually being firefighters, so the bare minimum is not going to cut it.


It takes time to pass the initial phase of requirements, and there are more steps you must go through on your way to becoming a firefighter.  Below are some of the recommended highlights that you should focus on to cut down on the time that it takes you on your firefighting career journey.  While there is no 100% absolute concrete path you can take, you should have a structured plan if you truly want to make firefighting your career goal.  Firefighting is  not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

To better prep yourself for the rigors of the job, start with the following:

• Education
This is the fun part of becoming a firefighter. Training programs are offered through a local fire college or trade school. You will take classes, take exams, and participate in live fire exercises. These exercises are all supervised, but will teach you the basics of working with a team, combatting fires, using equipment, and rescue. You may also be required to learn the basic of emergency medical rescue. Many courses could be general studies requirements such as English, math, and science. Programs usually take about one to two years.  For great firefighting education resources, check out this page here.
• Certification
After completing training, most states will require you to obtain certification in the field. This can be as simple as a written and practical examination. Most states adhere to standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Association. You can find more information at the NFPA by clicking here.
Some states or departments will also want you to register as an EMT-B (basic emergency medical technician).
• Experience
Most fire departments will require you to be an apprentice firefighter before hiring you on full time, and some fire departments may even ask that you be a volunteer firefighter first. Experience is essential to a career as a firefighter.

In short, there is no absolute answer about how long it can take to become a firefighter, but as a general idea an 18 year old who meets all the basic requirements and passes all initial tests who enters a training program immediately after finishing high school should become a firefighter in as little as two years, providing he passes all necessary courses and certification tests the first time around. With a year of experience under his belt, the chances of being hired full-time increases exponentially. Good luck on your journey to becoming a firefighter!

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