How to Become a Firefighter in San Diego

The City of San Diego is home to 53 fire stations and 892 uniformed fire personnel, always working hard to keep its residents safe. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is dedicated to providing all kinds of fire, emergency, medical and lifeguard services. These include 9-1-1 services, fire inspections, community education and fire permits. If you want to join this department as a firefighter and contribute towards making the city an even safer place, read the following information on how to become a firefighter in San Diego.

Requirements to Become a Firefighter in San Diego

According to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD), aspiring firefighters need to meet the following requirements:

  • Must be of at least 18 years of age
  • Must be a US citizen or should have the legal right to work in the US
  • Must have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Must have a valid EMT certification, issued by the State of California, National Registry or by an EMT certifying organization approved by the state of California
  • Must have a valid CPR Certificate issued by a healthcare provider under the American Heart Association
  • Must have a valid California Class C Driver’s License

If you satisfy the above criteria, you will be eligible to become a Firefighter Recruit, which is the most popular entry level job classification for the City of San Diego. Keep in mind, however, that the number of applications received is always more than the number of positions available. Firefighter Recruit positions do not open on a frequent basis, so you are advised to check for openings regularly.
If you are hired as a Firefighter Recruit, you will be placed under constant supervision while you complete the fire academy training. This 16-week long paid academy training will prepare you for a career in firefighting, with courses such as fire prevention, emergency medical training and state and local fire laws.

How Much Does a Firefighter Make in San Diego?

According to SDFD, a Firefighter I base salary is $3,275 monthly. Firefighter II salary can be between $4,392 and $5,300, while a Firefighter III salary ranges from $4,611 to $5,564. Additional salary for specialized skills is as follows:

  • “Paramedic Certificate – $3.63/hour
  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detail – 10% of salary
  • Hazardous Material Detail – 10% of salary
  • Heavy Rescue – 10% of salary
  • Bilingual Pay – 3.5% of salary
  • Annual Uniform Allowance – $1,000
  • Emergency Medical Technician – 8.5% of salary
  • Field Trainer – 5% of salary”

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in San Diego?

The application process would typically take a few weeks to complete. Applications are accepted every 1 to 2 years, in a 2-3 week period. So make sure you are aware of this period well in time. If you get selected, you will then begin a 16-week long fire training academy. You might opt for a 4-year long degree before applying, which may help during the interview and hiring phases as per the SDFD official website.