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How to Become a Firefighter Over Age 40

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Perhaps you're over 40 and thinking of firefighting as your next career. Maybe you're in your 30s but plan to retire from another position around age 40 and would like to begin working as a firefighter afterward. Some departments have maximum age restrictions, but many only have a minimum age requirement, usually 18. Certain characteristics and qualifications are desired by fire departments and can overcome any reservations about age that the decision-makers have.

Call firefighting departments you are interested in working for and ask whether they have maximum age restrictions for applicants. Some departments set age 39 or 40 as the maximum they will consider. You also can check their websites.

Check the department's education and certification requirements. Some municipal fire departments require state certification as a firefighter before hiring. This involves classroom courses and practical training in building construction, fire prevention, fire control, fire extinguishing and hazardous materials. Other departments send new hires for the training and reimburse or pay tuition costs. Another possible requirement is an associate's degree in fire science or paramedic training.

Make sure you are in excellent physical condition. This is imperative for firefighters, and you'll be expected to pass a physical ability test.

Know where your high school diploma or equivalency certification is located or complete the equivalency.

Become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which usually can be completed in a short program at a technical school. Obtain your emergency medical training certification, because many firefighting departments require EMT certification at the time of hiring or within six months. Even if not a requirement, this certification gives you an edge in the hiring process.

Volunteer for a fire department to gain experience while you pursue your job search.


Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

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