Fire Fighting Careers Outlook
Fire fighting is forecasted to remain an extremely competitive field. It attracts many people, particularly because a high school education is usually sufficient to become a recruit. However, this is changing rapidly. “The days when fire departments would typically require nothing more than a high school diploma are disappearing,” says Scott Baltic. “I’m noticing that many fire departments are requiring applicants to already have state certification as firefighters and/or EMTs.” Baltic also thinks that an associate’s degree in fire science or fire technology will become a more common requirement for an entry-level fire-fighting job.
The fire service is also a popular field because earnings are relatively high, and members receive a guaranteed pension upon retirement. In addition, the work is frequently exciting and affords an opportunity to perform a valuable community service. Consequently, the number of qualified applicants generally exceeds the number of job openings.
Firefighter employment should grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There is keen competition among public service providers for funding. Most job growth will occur as volunteer fire-fighting positions are converted to paid positions.
Specialty areas, such as hazardous materials and technical rescue, will also continue to grow. “The hot area right now is terrorism response,” explains Baltic, “and I suspect that people with hazardous materials and/or military experience will have especially good opportunities to put their skills to use for the future.”
The potential for upward mobility in the fire service is essentially unlimited. “Almost every fire chief in this country started out as a rookie firefighter,” notes Baltic. “On the supply side, there will always be little boys, and increasingly little girls, who dream of being firefighters. Romanticism aside, the truth is that for someone who is comfortable with a certain degree of danger and can handle the physical demands, fire fighting can be a great career.”
- Emergency Medical Technicians
- Fire Inspectors and Investigators
- Fire Safety Technicians