There's no question that our communities are better off because of the men and women who serve as firefighters. If you're just starting out in the professional world and you're considering various career paths, you may want to add firefighter to your list. This career allows you to help people, educate your community and build camaraderie with your coworkers. During your career exploration process, you may find yourself wondering how much firefighters get paid and whether you can earn a living with this job. As with many professions, a firefighter's pay varies based on where he or she is located across the country.
Becoming a Firefighter
Generally speaking, firefighters respond to emergencies – including fires – where life, health, safety, property and the environment are at risk. They also do educational outreach to the community to make sure residents are prepared for fires, natural disasters and other situations. In addition, specialized firefighters or units may perform search and rescue operations, provide disaster assistance or respond to hazardous materials incidents. Firefighters often work alongside emergency medical personnel and police officers or sheriff's deputies.
If you're looking into becoming a firefighter, you may be glad to learn that this profession generally does not require a college degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Instead, you'll likely need a certificate of some sort for an entry-level firefighter job, which you may be able to earn after you start work. As you might expect, this job has lots of long-term, on-the-job training. The field of firefighting is expected to grow by about 7 percent between now and 2026, which is as fast as average when compared with other industries across the country. This translates to an additional 23,500 firefighting jobs in the coming years.
Determining a Firefighter's Salary
On average, firefighters across the country make approximately $51,930 per year, according to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This translates to $24.97 per hour, on average. Of course, since these are national averages that take into account high and low salaries from across the country, some firefighters may be making a lot more or a lot less than the average. If you're considering applying to be a firefighter at your local municipality, you may be able to find the average salary information online, through a public records request or through the local union.
As you might expect, states with the highest population numbers also have a high numbers of firefighters. Other factors, such as a state's propensity for wildfires, may come into play as well. For example, California has the highest number of firefighters in the country by far, with 31,150 positions. California firefighters also earn an average of $73,860 per year, which makes it the second-highest paying state in the country for firefighters. The state where firefighters get paid the most, on average, is New Jersey, with an annual salary rate of $75,880. Other top-paying states include New York, with an average salary of $70,560 per year; Washington, with an average salary of $70,300 per year; and Nevada, with an average salary of $66,670 per year.