How Much Do Firefighters Make?

Being a firefighter is no easy task. The job involves working under pressure and against time in high-stakes situations, requiring fitness, mental fortitude, and technical knowledge.

How Much Do Firefighters Make?
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So if you’re considering a career in firefighting, one thing that you shouldn’t feel bad about asking is how much firefighters earn.

In general, the average salary for a paid firefighter in the U.S. is around $52,400. However, this will depend on the state and fire department, as well as the experience and qualifications of the firefighter.

Still, even if the salary is enticing to you or not, there are a lot more things to consider before beginning a career in firefighting. And for more information, this guide has everything you need to know.

What Does A Firefighter Do?

Firefighters are first responders who are mainly responsible for extinguishing fires and rescuing people, and even animals, from dangerous situations.

Firefighters are called to various emergencies, including fires, floods, earthquakes, and accidents, and provide medical assistance while they’re at it. They work in teams to control and extinguish fires, as well as ensure public safety in general.

Firefighters require a range of skills to perform their duties and also operate a variety of technical equipment, all the while employing important protocols and practices learned in drills and training.

Is Becoming A Firefighter Hard?

In short, the answer is yes – becoming a firefighter is hard. It isn’t just hard to become a fully fledged, qualified firefighter, but also hard to make it through the process, which involves a series of both mental and physical challenges.

As for the general requirements to become a firefighter, some of these include:

  • Age and citizenship requirements
  • U.S. driving license
  • Educational requirements
  • Background check (no criminal record)
  • Physical fitness requirements (see also “How Much Do Personal Trainers Make?“)
  • Medical requirements (EMT certification)
  • Getting selected as a recruit for firefighter training (Fire Academy)
  • Passing probation and getting employed

In total, it can take anything from 3 to 5 years to become a full firefighter in the U.S.

How Much Do Firefighters Make?

The salary of firefighters depends on several factors, such as experience, location (state), and the fire department. In general, however, the average salary for a paid firefighter in the U.S. is around $52,400.

Entry-level firefighters can have a salary as low as $30,000 while experienced firefighters can earn anything up to, and over, $100,000.

What Skills Are Needed To Become A Firefighter?

How Much Do Firefighters Make?
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There are a host of skills required to both become a firefighter as well as perform firefighting duties. Just some of many skills need to be a firefighter include:

  • Mental fortitude
  • Good physical fitness achieved through regular physical training
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Technical skills to operate firefighting equipment
  • Medical skills and knowledge
  • Teamwork skills
  • Ability to perform under pressure
  • Ability to perform in high-stakes situations
  • Ability to handle emotional distress

Is Being A Firefighter Stressful?

Firefighting is generally a stressful job due to the nature of the work. Firefighters are put in high-stakes, high-stress situations, and often have to perform under pressure while being responsible for protecting and saving lives.

In addition, firefighters can also experience stress related to the work schedule. Sometimes firefighters work long hours, including overnight shifts and on weekends, which can disrupt their sleep patterns and make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Training to become a firefighter can also be stressful, since it involves both physical and mental components.

Firefighters may even experience stress if they are worried about their general physical health (see also “How Much Do Chiropractors Make?“), mental health, and safety – especially when it concerns taking care of a family.

Is A Career In Firefighting Worth It?

Despite the stressful nature of firefighting, a firefighting career can be considered worth it due to the sense of accomplishment, purpose, and value the job can provide. This is especially true for individuals who want to be the best they can be and help others.

In addition to the mental and emotional rewards, firefighting can also offer good job security, benefits, and opportunities for career advancement.

Despite that, firefighting remains a difficult and dangerous profession that requires a long process of education and hands-on training. Firefighting is also a highly competitive field, with more applicants than there are open positions in some states.

The Pros And Cons Of Being A Firefighter

If you are considering a career in firefighting, it might help to weigh up the pros and cons of being a firefighter, which you’ll find listed below. The pros of being a firefighter:

  1. Job security: Firefighting is an important public service, so the demand for more firefighters is constant (see also “How Much Do Garbage Men Make?“). 
  2. Sense of purpose: Firefighting can be a fulfilling job based around helping people, making a difference in local communities, and saving lives.
  3. Competitive salary: Firefighters generally earn a good salary, with various benefits and the possibility for increased pay as experience grows.
  4. Job variety: Firefighting involves various jobs and situations, which can help to keep the job varied and less monotonous than other jobs.
  5. Teamwork: Firefighting involves working with a team, which can come with a sense of camaraderie and team-based fulfillment.

The cons of being a firefighter:

  1. Physical demands: Firefighting is a physically demanding job, which also requires good physical fitness before becoming a fighter.
  2. Competitive hiring process: Firefighting is a competitive field, which can make it difficult to get hired as a recruit without standing out.
  3. Risks: Firefighting involves very high risks on the job, including injury and even death.
  4. Emotionally challenging: Firefighting can involve stress, trauma, and mental challenges.
  5. Unpredictable schedule: Firefighting often involves long and irregular work hours.


In short, the average salary for a paid firefighter in the U.S. is around $52,400. This is the average salary, however, and entry-level firefighters can have a salary as low as $30,000 while experienced firefighters can earn anything up to, and over, $100,000.

Despite that, firefighting is a challenging career requiring various mental, physical, and emotional skills, educational certifications, and hands-on training, so there are a lot more things to consider than just the salary!

Jason Sullivan
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