The role of firefighters continues to expand as it’s not just limited to controlling fires and preventing loss of life. Firefighters are required to gain more extensive training in public safety, which includes understanding about buildings and constructions, EMT, and mechanical.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the 2022 National Fire Department Registry has registered 27,178 fire departments. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists 317,200 firefighters in the US in its 2020 employment stats. As per BLS, below are the top 5 states with the highest employment level in Firefighters in 2021.

North Carolina15,410

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Since the duties of firefighters have a lot to do with saving lives and rescuing people in distress, it is very important to be properly educated and trained before getting into this field. For those of you interested in this field, firefighter salary data would also be of great interest. The following guide provides detailed information on the salaries of firefighters, along with a quick look into how to become a firefighter in US.

Firefighters in the US – A Quick Glance

According to the US Fire Department Profile report published by National Fire Protection Association in 2020, there were approximately 1,041,200 career and volunteer firefighters in the country. This number shows a decrease of 4% from the previous year (2019) and is the lowest total since 1991. The percentage downgrade is due to the lesser number of volunteer firefighters.

The same report showed that there were 364,300 career firefighters in 2020. This represented an increase of 2% from 2019. As per NFPA’s 2020 report, out of this total figure, 9% firefighters were female (89,600); 17,200 out of which were career firefighters and 72,400 were female volunteer firefighters.

Steps to Become a Firefighter in the US

Becoming a firefighter in the US requires dedication, physical fitness, and a willingness to serve your community. Here are the general steps you can take to become a firefighter:

Meet the Basic Requirements

To become a firefighter, you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and have a valid driver’s license. Some departments may have additional requirements, such as residency in the jurisdiction or passing a background check.

Obtain CPR and First Aid Certifications

Firefighters are often called to respond to medical emergencies, so you’ll need to be certified in CPR and First Aid.

Gain Relevant Experience

Volunteer or intern with your local fire department to gain hands-on experience and learn about the day-to-day tasks of a firefighter.

Obtain a Degree or Certification

While not always required, many firefighters have an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science, emergency management, or a related field. You can also obtain certification through the National Fire Academy.

Pass a Physical Fitness Test

Firefighting is a physically demanding job, so you’ll need to pass a fitness test that measures your strength, endurance, and agility.

Pass a Written Exam

Most fire departments require applicants to pass a written exam that tests their knowledge of firefighting, emergency medical services, and other relevant topics.

Attend a Firefighting Academy

Once hired, you’ll attend a firefighting academy to receive additional training in fire suppression, rescue, and other skills.

Continue Training and Education

Firefighting is a constantly evolving field, so it’s important to continue your education and training throughout your career.

Keep in mind that the specific requirements to become a firefighter can vary depending on the department and location. It’s always a good idea to research the requirements for the specific department you’re interested in and tailor your preparation accordingly.

Skills Required to Become a Firefighter in the US

To become a firefighter in the US, you’ll need to have a variety of skills, both physical and mental. Here are some of the key skills required to become a firefighter:

Physical Fitness

Firefighting is a physically demanding job that requires strength, endurance, and agility. You’ll need to be able to lift heavy equipment, climb ladders, and work in confined spaces.


Firefighters often need to think on their feet and make quick decisions in emergency situations. You’ll need to be able to assess a situation, identify potential hazards, and determine the best course of action.


Firefighting is a team effort, and you’ll need to work closely with other firefighters to get the job done. You’ll need to be able to communicate effectively, follow directions, and trust your teammates.


Firefighters need to be able to communicate effectively with their team members, as well as with the public during emergencies. You’ll need to be able to give clear instructions, listen carefully, and remain calm under pressure.

Technical Skills:

Firefighters need to be familiar with a variety of technical skills, including using firefighting equipment, performing basic medical procedures, and navigating in hazardous environments.

Attention to Detail

In emergency situations, small details can make a big difference. You’ll need to be able to pay close attention to your surroundings and identify potential hazards or risks.


Firefighters often encounter people who are in distress or experiencing trauma. You’ll need to be able to show compassion and empathy, and provide comfort to those in need.

These are just a few of the skills required to become a firefighter in the US. Keep in mind that different departments may have different requirements or priorities when it comes to skills, so it’s important to research the specific department you’re interested in and tailor your preparation accordingly.

Firefighter Salary in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois

Firefighters all around the US enjoy job security, as their job description not just requires putting out fires but also responding to vehicle accidents, chemical spills, and other emergencies.

There are many financial benefits of being a firefighter that includes earning a mean annual wage of $ 55,290, according to the 2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other perks include overtime pay, healthcare insurance, pension, sick leave, and vacation. Below is the salary breakdown and job outlook of some of the top US states.



Annual Mean WageEmploymentProjected Growth (2020-2030)











Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) and O*NET Online

According to the BLS, below are the top 5 highest paying states for this occupation in the US in 2021.

StateAnnual Mean Wage
New Jersey$84,930
New York$72,670

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Firefighter Salary Trends in the US

Job Outlook for Firefighters

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 4% growth in employment opportunities for firefighters in the US between 2021 and 2031. The employment opportunity arises when firefighters retire or replace their job with other occupations.