How Long Does Firefighting School Take?

Firefighters are modern day heroes. Nowadays, their job is not confined to putting out fires. They also respond to all kinds of other emergencies, from rescuing those suffering from heart attacks to pulling out victims of a car wreck to bringing individuals trapped in a storm to safety. Indeed, firefighting is a very noble profession. It is a career that gives the opportunity to help their fellowmen each day they go to work.

If firefighting sounds like something you want to do, you might be happy to know that the educational requirements aren’t that extensive. Most fire departments simply require a high school diploma or its equivalent to apply. However, many aspiring firefighters find that obtaining a fire science degree before lodging their application is advantageous since the training they get from these programs make them better prepared for the rigorous application process. An associate’s degree in fire science takes two years to finish while a bachelor’s degree takes an average of four years to complete.

Aside from formal firefighting education, you also need to factor in the time you need to allocate for your emergency medical technician (EMT) training and paramedic training since these certifications are often required for firefighter positions. The length of time these programs take will depend on the state you are in. On the average, EMT training lasts for 120 to 150 hours while paramedic training takes 1,200 to 1,800 hours. This means that these programs can take anywhere from three weeks to a couple of years to complete. After getting their training, EMTs and paramedics must pass the exam given by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians in order to be certified.

The application process towards becoming a firefighter is a long and challenging. You’ll be asked to take a written exam, oral interview, physical and psychological exams. Your background will also be checked and you will also need to undergo a drug test. Once you have passed the rigorous hiring process, you will need to undergo more training while you are still on probation. The topics that will be covered during training include fire prevention, firefighting techniques, building codes of the city or locality and performing emergency medical procedures. Rookie training will take anywhere from six months to a full year and is typically obtained at the fire academy which is operated by the fire department or the state. To keep the job, fire departments also require their firefighters to take continuing education classes.

In some fire departments, the educational preparation needed to train for the firefighting profession is through an apprenticeship program. These programs take up to four years to finish and feature classroom instruction with field training. These are done under the guidance and supervision of veteran firefighters. One example of this program is the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program that trains career entry firefighters to become wildland firefighters. The length of time for training depends on the firefighter’s experience but generally takes anywhere from 12 to 48 months. Other firefighting training courses can also be obtained from the National Fire Academy.

Career Spotlight: Firefighter

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