San Jose,CA: How to Become a Firefighter

The San Jose Fire Department (SJFD) is responsible for keeping California’s third-largest city safe from all types of fire hazards. The fire department protects around 1.2 million people of the Santa Clara County as per the City of San Jose website. It is one of 847 fire departments registered in the state of California.

Essential members of the community, firefighters’ scope of work extends far beyond just putting down fires. While extinguishing fire is their primary job, they also respond to emergency situations like road accidents, plane or train crash, infrastructure collapse, chemical spills, and conduct search and rescue operations.

Firefighters are called first responders as they are the first ones to reach the site to provide assistance. To become a firefighter in San Jose, a minimum of high school diploma or equivalent is required. Candidates have to be of at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.

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The department has 33 stations across the city of San Jose. This efficient firefighting force has an impressive record of service in recent times. Do you want to join this fearless group of professionals? If so, you can find all the relevant information in this piece.

Career Requirements

Educational RequirementsPostsecondary nondegree award
Licensure/CertificationCertification and License is mandatory
Experience/TrainingFirefighter Training Academy
Key SkillsQuick Response, Critical Thinking, Teamwork, Courage, Public Safety and Security
Annual Mean Salary – California (2021)$80,990 per year
Job Outlook – California (2020 – 2030)4%

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

San Jose Fire Department Eligibility Criteria

  • All applicants must be at least 18 when applying
  • All candidates need to finish high school. In case of not having a high school diploma, they must furnish the alternative CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Examination) or a GED (General Educational Development) certificate
  • All aspirants need to have a valid California driver’s license
  • All candidates must be legal US citizens
  • An applicant must not have any type of criminal record against their name
  • All applicants must clear the entry-level test conducted by the NTN (National Testing Network)
  • All candidates need to pass the CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test)
  • All individuals selected for employment with the SJFD must obtain an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification before joining

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

The time it takes to become a firefighter mostly depends on the job title and capacity in which you want to work. Typically, it takes between four to six months to start off as a volunteer firefighter. This includes time spent at the training academy. For a proper career as a firefighter, it takes at least one year with suitable certifications and 12 to 16 weeks of training at the firefighter academy.

How Much Do San Jose’s Firefighters Make Every Year?

personnel in California earned an annual mean wage of $80,990 in May, 2021. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA is also the highest paying metropolitan area in the US as per the figures published by BLS for 2021. The annual mean wage for firefighters in this area was $ 114,210.

San Jose Fire Department Career Outlook

O*Net Online forecasts a 4% increase in employment opportunities for firefighters in California between 2018 and 2028. The corresponding national average for this occupation is 9% between 2020-2030.

What Education Do I Need to Be a Firefighter?

To work as a firefighter in the state of California, you need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. You can also join the force by showing the California Certificate of Proficiency which is a test to gauge a candidate’s high school level skills. Some students get out of high school early due to different reasons and the California Certificate of Proficiency tests their high school skills. The certificate is considered equivalent to a high school diploma and the minimum age to take the test is 16 years.

Salary of Firefighters in San Jose

$80,990 was the mean annual salary of firefighters in California as per BLS in 2021. The corresponding national mean annual salary of firefighters in 2021 was $55,290. 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