Discover How to Become a Firefighter: State by State Requirements

How to Become a Firefighter

How to become a firefighter

How to become a firefighter in any state is really time consuming and demanding, no one state is no different than the rest. There might be more specific requirements for other states’ but the minimum requirements are typically the same.

In order to begin work as a firefighter in any state you must meet several requirements and many different exams.

Continue reading this article if you are interested in knowing all the requirements.

Basic Requirements for Firefighters

The process in becoming a firefighter starts before a college career. An applicant must begin by earning his/her high school diploma or GED. This will need to be done for both being accepted into college and gaining employment at a fire station. While in college you will want to stay on track and focus on four subject areas: Computers, English, Mathematics, and Science

A valid driver’s license is required to work as a firefighter. If you have not already you will need to take a driver’s training course as soon as you can. If you are still in high school then most high schools offer driver’s education courses free of charge to their students. If you are not in high school then check your local DMV or community college for a training course. Once you receive your driver’s license it is imperative that you maintain a clean driving record. Future fire departments will check your driving history record.

Firefighting careers are known to be physically changeling, that a fact, Jack! (Excuse me for the Duck Dynasty humor) Saying this, you will need to be in excellent physical shape. Begin working out as soon as possible. If you are still in high school, start daily exercise routines that will focus on your abs, legs, and strengthening your arms. If you are out of high school, think about joining a gym or if that isn’t in your budget then get outside and jog, do some push-ups, and pull-ups.

Advanced Firefighting Training

Once you have completed high school, your next goal is to find a firefighter training school that will be approved by the State Firefighters’ Association. Most states have many colleges, fire academies, and universities where you can do this. You will spend your first year completing some general education classes, if you choose to take your training at a college or university. Here are some of the outlined courses:

Anatomy and Physiology

College Algebra

Computer Science

English Composition

Physical Education


Social Science

Speech Communication

Once you have finished your general education classes, then you will be allowed to start the firefighting courses. These classes will vary depending on which school or academy you may choose to attend. This is a standard list of required classes:

Building Constructions

Emergency Medical Technology

Firefighter Science

Fire Apparatus

Fire Prevention

Fire Protection Systems

Fire Service Rescue Methods

Fire Suppression Techniques

Hazardous Materials

Firefighter Schools

Starting a firefighting career in any state is a great career to start. Most states have a lot of fire schools to choose from; usually you can find one that is near to you. There are many institutions that produce great training courses in firefighting and are designed to direct your dream career.

Obtaining your degree or certification in fire sciences is an accomplishment. However, this is just the initial step at a firefighter career in most states. Once you complete the formal firefighter training, then comes a series of physical and written exams.

The Candidate Physical Ability Test, or CPAT is the physical Exam. Various fire stations usually administer these test throughout the year. If you are not sure of when and where you can take the CPAT test, the Candidate Physical Ability Network can assist in finding you a location that will be near to you.

The CPAT exam is a demanding test that was designed to show if the firefighter candidates are capable of handling the rigorous work involved in a firefighting career. You will perform various activities that will simulate real life emergency situations; as this will be a pass or fail test. Here are some of the situations that are included in the test:

Equipment Carrying

Forced Entry

Hose Dragging

Ladder Raise and Extension



Stair Climbing

Written Exam for Firefighters

Upon completion of the CPAT, the next thing you will have to finish will be the Firefighter’s Written Examination. This will be a 150 multiple choice question test that will also be usually administered by the  Human Resources Department of your local city. Before you make begin this test you will need to meet the following pre-requisite:

20 Years of Age or Older

Citizen of the United States

CPR and EMT Certification

Examination Fee

Hazardous Materials Certification

High School Diploma or GED

Medical Examinations

No Felonies on Criminal Record

Successful Completion of the Firefighter Training Program

Required Medical Examinations for Firefighters

To become a firefighter you will need to pass various medical exams, as stated above. This will be to make sure that the applicant is in optimal health and will be able to handle this tiresome duties of the job. Listed below are some of the common exams that you will take:

Complete Physical Exam

Drug Test (Annually)

Eye Test

Hearing Test

Psychology Screening

Additional Requirements for Firefighters

You do not have much more to go if you have made it this far. Once all necessary requirements are completed successfully, you may the start to apply for a job as a firefighter. You will be invited into an oral board interview, if an employer finds you application to their likening.

These oral board interviews are more like a job interview. You will want to appear as professional as you can be. If the interview goes good you will then be required to meet some requirements specified by the fire department that you have applied to. The requirements vary from station to station but here are the most common ones:

Annual Drug Test

Criminal Background Check

Motor Vehicle Record Check

Polygraph Test

Valid Driver’s License

Written and Physical Exam Scores/Results

In the United States the road to a career on how to become a firefighter is long, indeed. But, if you finish all the necessary requirements, the hard work and preparation will be worth it. Firefighting in any state is quite strenuous, but it can also be an extremely satisfying one as well.


Picture rights reserved by Claudio Capucho