Should I Become a Firefighter in Chicago?

Firefighters put their lives at risk to put out fires. They are normally the first people at the site whenever a fire breaks out. Yes, they wear protective gear and use the best equipment, but the job of a firefighter is still full of risks. 17,180 firefighters were working in the state of Illinois in 2019 as per the data by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Featured Programs and Schools

Education RequiredHigh school education or an equivalent GED will suffice.
TrainingFire Academy Training is needed.
Licenses/CertificationsEMT and CRT Certification.
Key Skills/QualitiesPhysical Stamina, Strong Decision Making, Quick Thinking, etc.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National$54,650
Job Outlook (2019-2029)6%
Annual Mean Salary (2019) –Illinois$58,170

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Chicago

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) is one of the largest public service departments among the 1,108 Illinois fire units listed at the National Fire Department Registry. The CFD is always striving to keep the numbers of fire fatalities down. If you believe you have something to offer to this great organization, you have to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Complete the Required Education

All aspiring firefighters in Chicago must have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent GED certificate.

Step 2: Get the EMT Certification

You will also have to obtain a valid Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate.

Step 3: Clear the CPAT

To become a firefighter in Chicago, you will also have to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).

Step 4: Apply for the Job

The next step is to apply for the job at the fire station of your choice.

Step 5: Clear the Screening Process

Every fire department has its own screening process. Generally, all aspiring firefighters have to clear a written test, an interview, a background examination, drug screening, medical examination, and a psychological evaluation.

Step 6: Take Part in Fire Academy Training

Once you clear all the steps mentioned above, you will have to take part in training at an approved fire academy. The training duration varies from fire department to fire department.

Career Opportunities for Firefighters in Chicago

  • Firefighter
  • Specialist Fire Equipment Personnel
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Fire Investigator (Employed by Insurance Agencies)
  • Fire Safety Expert

How to apply to be a Chicago fire fighter?

Once you complete all the requirements, you will have to apply for the position of Chicago firefighter. The only way to apply is online. You can find the application form on the City of Chicago’s website. Make sure you fill the form carefully so, that there are no issues with your application.

Eligibility Requirements for Chicago Fire Personnel

Following are the eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must have completed high school. This is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a firefighter in Chicago. If you don’t have a high school diploma (HSD), then the equivalent GED certificate is acceptable too
  • Must possess a valid Illinois driving license. If you don’t have one at the time of applying, then you will have to obtain one by the time of appointment
  • Must hold legal American nationality, be it on the basis of naturalization or birth
  • Must not be a convicted felon nor have any other kind of criminal record anywhere in the United States
  • Must be a resident of Chicago. This is not mandatory when applying. However, once appointed to the firefighting force, all employees are obligated to live within the Chicago city limits
  • Must clear the Chicago civil service test. This is a written assessment designed to evaluate candidates’ proficiency in reading comprehension, basic mathematics, vocabulary and grammar
  • Must obtain a good score on the Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT)
  • Must clear all background checks

How Long Is Needed to Join the Chicago Fire Department (CFD)?

The CFD’s firefighter training program is usually 6 to 7 months long. On top of that, the initial screening and applicant shortlisting process takes a few months. So, you will need about 8 to 12 months to become a part of the Chicago Fire Department, depending on the availability of the positions.

What Salary Is Paid to a Firefighter in Chicago?

According to the City of Chicago, a Firefighter/EMT has an annual salary starting from $50,490.

Chicago Firefighters Future Job Prospects

O*Net Online has predicted a 4% increase in firefighting jobs in Illinois for the decade from 2016 to 2026. You can expect opportunities with CFD to increase at a similar rate. Moreover, the national average for firefighter employment growth during this time is expected to be 7%.