Quick Links

Main Navigation


Fire Science

Sign up for the News Update.

Sub Navigation


Home > Fire Science >


Ajax Loading Image


E-mail Article

Story image 1_0

Fire Service Careers

by Robert Brown





Nature of the Work

Protect life and property from fires or other emergencies

Organized in companies under direction of commanding officers

Rescue trapped or injured occupants

Handle hose lines and nozzles

Climb ladders

Operate fire engines, fire pumps, hand and power tools

Respond to transportation and industrial accidents

Respond to natural and man-made disasters

   Tornado, earthquake, flood

   Structural collapse, explosions

Entry, Education, and Training Requirements (typically)

High school graduate…college degrees may be required for advancement

Written exam

Candidate Physical Ability Test

Medical Exam

Psychological evaluation

Polygraph test

Drug screening

EMT or paramedic certification

Multi-lingual usually an advantage


Working Conditions

High Risk

Physical strength and endurance

24-hour shift work

Team oriented

Tolerance of extremes in temperature

Tolerance of diverse populations, cultures and perspectives


Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Usually promoted from within the department

Advance to higher ranks…D/E, Lt, Capt, Chief Officer, Chief (college degrees may be required)

About 353,000 career firefighters in U.S.

Projected growth as paid positions replace volunteer positions

Stiff competition for employment and advancement


Salaries (Illinois, NE region)

Entry               $27,957

Median           $52,659

Experienced $68,521


Typical Benefits

Paid sick days

Paid vacations

Medical, dental, and vision insurance

Life insurance

Retirement plan (pension)


Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Fire Fighters
1750 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20006-5395
(202) 737-8484

National Fire Protection Association
PO Box 9101
1 Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169-7471
(617) 770-3000

U.S. Fire Administration
16825 S. Seton Ave.
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
(301) 447-1000


The Fire Service offers an array of diverse career opportunities for those who may not have an interest in, or a capacity for, emergency response work.  We generally refer to these career fields as Support Services.  Each plays a key role in enabling the fire department to deliver an effective emergency response effort for its citizens.  These varied career opportunities include:

  • Telecommunicators…Dispatch personnel who receive, process and direct calls for assistance to appropriate emergency response units.
  • Information management specialists…Computer technicians who manage electronic data collection, storage, retrieval and use, including inventory, payroll and other personnel matters and the use of GIS, GPS, and AVL systems for emergency vehicle routing, location, and status.
  • Hazardous materials control unit…Technicians who manage the storage and use of identified hazardous materials at commercial/industrial facilities within the department’s jurisdiction.
  • Fire and arson investigators…Certified investigators who are trained to determine the origin and cause of fires, collect and preserve evidence, and testify in court cases.
  • Fire inspectors…Certified Fire Inspectors who make annual site visits to all commercial/industrial properties in the jurisdiction to ensure compliance with applicable fire and life safety codes.
  • Building inspectors and plans reviewers…Certified inspectors who review and approve blueprints and all other associated construction documents for proposed new construction.
  • Fire protection specialists…Certified Fire Protection Engineers hold engineering degrees and work with architects and engineers to design fire protection systems for new and existing buildings within the jurisdiction.
  • Human resource specialists…Responsible for the management of all personnel employment matters.
  • Equipment technicians…Responsible for the maintenance and repair of associated equipment.  Vehicle mechanics, especially certified diesel mechanics and EVT’s (Emergency Vehicle Technicians), are needed to maintain the fleet.
  • Financial services specialists…Certified and/or licensed business managers responsible for the overall financial plan for the department, including operating and capital budgets.
  • Public education specialists…Certified Fire and Life Safety Educators and Public Information Officers who are tasked with educating and informing the public.
  • Health Management Specialists…Personal trainers, exercise physiologists, and dieticians who manage diet and exercise programs designed to maintain firefighters in peak physical condition.
  • Administrative support personnel…Administrative assistants, secretaries, and clerks.









Back To Top