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Before you can become a firefighter, you must have a valid driver's license, a high school diploma and be at least 18 years old. Most careers in fire fighting begin with government approved fire academies or training courses. To complete those programs, you'll need to pass a written exam and a physical exam. To do that, you'll need to perform several common firefighting tasks like climbing ladders, carrying equipment, raising large ladders and performing a forcible entry.
To increase the chances of being hired, many potential firefighters get a degree in fire science and/or get certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. Additionally, any firefighters become sworn officers as they advance in their careers. Those officers can work their way up the ranks through promotions in the same way that police and military officers do.
To get and keep a job as a firefighter, there are several things to stay focused on. First, get and stay in good physical condition. Secondly, stay out of trouble. You'll be working with law enforcement officers regularly and it is expected that you'll have a fairly clear record. If you've made mistakes in your past, it is best to be honest with your superiors about those mistakes. Also, make sure that they know about any driving infractions you have on your record, since driving will be a part of your job requirement. Lastly, keep your social media appropriate. Many jobs check your social media, and you may be held accountable for what you've posted.
Firefighters receive paid on-the-job training before they officially begin work in their department. Once hired, every firefighter attends several weeks of training programs, regardless of prior experience. They train together to practice their skills and enhance their teamwork strategies.
Volunteering for groups, like the American Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity, is a wonderful way to help your community and develop some skills that you will find useful. Visiting local firefighters is a great way to start networking and learn more about the career and volunteer opportunities.
Many towns make use of volunteer firefighters alongside or even in place of paid professionals. For instance, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection requires applicants with no experience to begin by applying for a temporary firefighter I position, but with at least a year as a volunteer, you can be considered for permanent positions.