How to Become a Firefighter in Tennessee

Firefighters put out fires in residential and commercial dwellings. They are one of the first responders where human life and property is at risk.

Other than the responsibility of serving the public whenever called upon, firefighters also perform various other tasks. These include carrying out fire drills and preparing field reports among others. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a firefighter in Tennessee, this guide would help you get started.

Types of Firefighting Careers in Tennessee

According to the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Agency (TFACA), following are the major firefighting careers in the state.

  • Volunteer Firefighter (Over 70% of Tennessee’s fire service comprises of volunteers)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (Fire Department)
  • Private Fire Investigator
  • Industrial Fire Protection Specialist

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Tennessee

Step 1: Valid Tennessee Driving License and High School Diploma (HSD)

This is the minimum eligibility criteria that you must fulfill before starting a career as a firefighter.

Step 2: Take the Necessary Tests

To start a career as a Tennessee Firefighter, you will have to take a written test, which is designed to evaluate a candidate’s reading comprehension, spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning, observation, sharpness of memory and the ability to apply logic.

You will also have to take the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). This will gauge your physical prowess and suitability for the role of a firefighter in Tennessee.

Step 3: Join Your Local Volunteer Fire Department to Gain Experience

Volunteering for your local fire department is a good way to gain experience and also determine if this is the profession that you truly want to pursue. This will also give you access to further training opportunities in the field.

Step 4: Obtain Formal Education

Getting a formal education in the field will open up new possibilities for you. With an academic degree, you can pursue a career path in fire science, paramedics and other related areas.

Many universities offer Associate’s (2-year) and Bachelor’s (4-year) degree programs in Fire Science. Short-term certifications (3 to 6 months) in Fire Science are also offered by many schools. By obtaining college education in Fire Science, you will be able to pursue rewarding careers (fire investigator, industrial fire protection specialist, etc.) in the private sector.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in Tennessee?

Once you volunteer with your local fire service, you will have to work around 6 months to 1 year in that role. You can then apply for a job with the Tennessee Fire Department which carries out recruitment a couple of times a year. The whole process from applying to getting selected on a permanent basis (after completing probationary period) can take up to 2 years.

In case you plan to pursue further education in the field, then the time taken to complete that will depend on the type of program you enroll in.

How Much Does a Firefighter Make in Tennessee?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters in Tennessee earned an annual mean wage of $40,280 in May, 2018.

Career Outlook for Tennessee Firefighters

Employment opportunities for firefighters are expected to grow by 5% between 2018 and 2028 nationally (as per information made available by the BLS). This is similar to the expected average growth in other occupations. According to O*Net Online, the job growth for firefighters in Tennessee will be at 8% between 2016 and 2026.