Whether you’re still in high school looking forward or you’re an adult looking for a career change, the thought of becoming a firefighter can be an appealing one. Strong, selfless and heroic: the traits of firefighters never come with the social and political baggage that lately have become associated with law enforcement. When you’ve made the decision to become a firefighter there are three steps to take to ensure that your dream career becomes a reality.
1. Get Certified
Firefighters do more than run into burning buildings. It’s up to them to provide emergency medical care. So find a program to get your EMT and National Registry certificates. You can find schools that provide these certificates by Googling “How do I become a firefighter in Texas” or whatever state you’re in. These classes prepare you for work on ambulances as well, so if you decide fighting fires isn’t for you, you’ll still have important job skills.
Beyond the EMT classes, fire classes can give you a better idea of what the job is really like and give you important guidance on succeeding at the job. Learn how to move around a building when it’s on fire, how to accurately fit your gear and all the basics of the job. Remember that like most jobs, you must already have a high school diploma or GED.
2. Test With Fire Departments
Even if you know you aren’t ready yet, you can still apply for jobs with the fire department when you meet the basic requirements. By going through the testing phase you’ll find out exactly what you don’t know, so you can focus your studies there. These tests are both written and physical. The Candidate Physical Ability Test, or CPAT, will test your strength and endurance through eight scenarios you would encounter on the job. Written tests are usually multiple choice. Testing will teach you patience as you learn the format of first-round testing, interviews and additional testing.
3. Learn More
Until you are actually hired as a firefighter you can increase your odds of success by taking a job as an EMT. Here you’ll get the hands-on experience that firehouses are looking for. Also, consider returning to college and working toward an associate’s in fire science. As you move up in your fire career you’ll learn that continuing education is the key to promotion.
With these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a real-life hero, a firefighter.