a dark blue TraitLab logo
Pricing Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Firefighter

Also known as Fire Engineer, Fire Equipment Operator, Fire Fighter, Fire Rescue Technician, Fire Technician, Firefighter, Forest Fire Suppression Specialist, Forestry Fire Technician, Hot Shot, Wildland Firefighter

Firefighter

Also known as Fire Engineer, Fire Equipment Operator, Fire Fighter

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$26,940 - $93,790 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Monitoring
  • Coordination
Knowledge Areas
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Building and Construction
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Administer first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to injured persons or provide emergency medical care such as basic or advanced life support.
  • Train new employees to control and suppress fires.
  • Search to locate fire victims.
Is Firefighter the right career path for you?

Would Firefighter be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Firefighter and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Firefighter do?

Firefighters control and extinguish fires or respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

In addition, Firefighters duties may include fire prevention, emergency medical service, hazardous material response, search and rescue, and disaster assistance.

What kind of tasks does a Firefighter perform regularly?

Firefighters are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Rescue victims from burning buildings, accident sites, and water hazards.
  • Dress with equipment such as fire-resistant clothing and breathing apparatus.
  • Respond to fire alarms and other calls for assistance, such as automobile and industrial accidents.
  • Assess fires and situations and report conditions to superiors to receive instructions, using two-way radios.
  • Move toward the source of a fire, using knowledge of types of fires, construction design, building materials, and physical layout of properties.
  • Create openings in buildings for ventilation or entrance, using axes, chisels, crowbars, electric saws, or core cutters.
  • Drive and operate fire fighting vehicles and equipment.
  • Inspect fire sites after flames have been extinguished to ensure that there is no further danger.
  • Position and climb ladders to gain access to upper levels of buildings, or to rescue individuals from burning structures.
  • Select and attach hose nozzles, depending on fire type, and direct streams of water or chemicals onto fires.
  • Maintain contact with fire dispatchers at all times to notify them of the need for additional firefighters and supplies, or to detail any difficulties encountered.
  • Collaborate with other firefighters as a member of a firefighting crew.
  • Collaborate with police to respond to accidents, disasters, and arson investigation calls.
  • Patrol burned areas after fires to locate and eliminate hot spots that may restart fires.
  • Prepare written reports that detail specifics of fire incidents.
  • Maintain knowledge of current firefighting practices by participating in drills and by attending seminars, conventions, and conferences.
  • Participate in fire drills and demonstrations of fire fighting techniques.
  • Participate in physical training activities to maintain a high level of physical fitness.
  • Protect property from water and smoke, using waterproof salvage covers, smoke ejectors, and deodorants.
  • Inform and educate the public on fire prevention.
  • Orient self in relation to fire, using compass and map, and collect supplies and equipment dropped by parachute.
  • Clean and maintain fire stations and fire fighting equipment and apparatus.
  • Salvage property by removing broken glass, pumping out water, and ventilating buildings to remove smoke.
  • Inspect buildings for fire hazards and compliance with fire prevention ordinances, testing and checking smoke alarms and fire suppression equipment as necessary.
  • Take action to contain any hazardous chemicals that could catch fire, leak, or spill.
  • Extinguish flames and embers to suppress fires, using shovels or engine- or hand-driven water or chemical pumps.

The above responsibilities are specific to Firefighters. More generally, Firefighters are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

What is a Firefighter salary?

The median salary for a Firefighter is $52,500, and the average salary is $56,360. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Firefighter salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Firefighters earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Firefighters earn less than $26,940 per year, 25% earn less than $35,850, 75% earn less than $70,870, and 90% earn less than $93,790.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Firefighters is expected to change by 8.5%, and there should be roughly 27,000 open positions for Firefighters every year.

Median annual salary
$52,500
Typical salary range
$26,940 - $93,790
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
8.5%

What personality traits are common among Firefighters?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Firefighter are usually higher in their Realistic and Social interests.

Firefighters typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Firefighters typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Firefighter tend to value Support, Relationships, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Firefighters very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Firefighters strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Firefighters strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Firefighters must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, stress tolerance, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Firefighters, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

What education and training do Firefighters need?

Firefighters often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Firefighters usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Firefighters

  • 0.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 14.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 37.3% completed some college coursework
  • 22.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 21.8% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 2.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Firefighters

Firefighters may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as public safety and security, building and construction, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Firefighters might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Building and Construction
Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Firefighters

Firefighters must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Firefighters need abilities such as problem sensitivity, static strength, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Firefighters, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Static Strength
The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Firefighters

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Firefighters frequently use skills like active listening, monitoring, and coordination to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Firefighters, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.