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It goes without saying that firefighters are a special breed of person. The willingness to put your life on the line to rescue and protect others from all types of dangerous and threatening situations is one of the most important prerequisites for joining this elite profession.

As critical as bravery and selflessness are, they are far from the only qualities you will need to become a firefighter. Requirements for the job are numerous and often nonnegotiable. If you want to become a first responder, there are several steps you will be expected to take before and after accepting a position with a department.

Read on to learn more about some of the most important firefighter job requirements.

Getting Started

If you’re wondering, “What are the requirements to become a firefighter?” chances are you already meet some of them. It takes a certain type of personality to cope with the rigors of the job, and you should take an objective look at what kind of person you are before choosing to start.

For example, you won’t be working alone. You’ll be part of a team that needs to function well to do what needs to be done. That means you should have strong communication skills and be able to collaborate well with others. If you don’t like taking orders or prefer to do everything your own way, this may not be the calling for you.

Another potential concern is your background. If you’ve ever been in trouble with the law or have a poor credit score, you may not stand as good of a chance as someone else. It’s also a good idea to make sure you don’t have any embarrassing or offensive content on your social media pages, because it could impact whether you get hired.

Firefighter Physical Requirements

When it comes to the physical qualifications for the job, you must be at least 18 years old to start. Many departments also have maximum ages for candidates, typically between 28 and 35. You’ll be expected to be in good shape, capable of climbing ladders and stairs, as well as carrying heavy equipment for extended periods. You’ll be asked to pass a physical exam to verify you have what it takes, so be prepared.

Firefighter Education Requirements

Although it may not be required by the department to which you apply, having a degree or certificate in fire science can be helpful. In some cases, it can prepare you to advance into an administrative role, so be aware if that’s something that fits into your career aspirations. You can obtain a degree or certification through a vocational school, community college, four-year university or even through military service.

You may even want to earn a master’s degree in fire science if you hope to rise through the ranks and become a chief someday. Virtually every fire department in the United States also requires firefighters to receive EMT training. Although the department for which you work might provide this for you after you’re hired, getting your EMT certification in advance could be advantageous.

Once you’re hired, you will need to go through a full training regimen at a fire academy or through the department. In some cases, you will be asked to complete this before you are officially employed as a firefighter.

Preparing for Tests

You will need to pass the aforementioned physical exam as well as a written test before becoming a full-fledged firefighter. In addition to staying in good shape, this means you will need to study all provided educational materials.

Checklist for the Prep Work

Before submitting your application, look at this list of action items you may need to complete:

  • Ensure you are in good physical condition and between the ages of 18 and 35
  • Evaluate your ability to work well with others and put others’ needs above your own
  • Look into the educational requirements where you live
  • Prepare to complete fire academy and EMT training programs
  • Study all educational materials you are provided for the written exam
  • Be ready for the physical portion of the test

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