Become a Firefighter NOW.

I’m consistently seeing candidates that ask a type of question that illustrates a HUGE and very common mistake that people make in pursuit of their dreams.  The questions often look like this:

“Should I get my two year degree in Fire Science or should I go for a more broad subject matter?  I want to have the best degree to get the job when I start applying, but I think I need to hedge my bets just in case.”

“Which branch of the military should I join to maximize my chances of being a firefighter?”

If your dream is to be a firefighter who works as a paid professional for a municipal department in the United States, then…


You are trying to become an ENTRY LEVEL FIREFIGHTER.


It may sound like i’m suggesting that a candidate not pursue advanced education or service in the military, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Military service for your country is one of the most honorable gestures a citizen gives to their country, and I believe the richest life involves a lifetime of learning that should include degrees.

What I’m saying is this:

The quickest road to success is the one that leads straight to the ultimate goal.

Although the above things are worthwhile, they are secondary in priority if your dream is getting the firefighter badge.  They help, but they don’t guarantee anything.  Most departments don’t require a degree or military service for employment.  (In fact, to my knowledge, none of the municipal departments do for entry level employment.)  Why then are we putting “extra” requirements on ourselves in achieving our goal?

In fact, wouldn’t you be better off if you immediately focused on the more likely requirements one sees in their list of desirable departments:





Each of these items, save the Paramedic designation, takes about the equivalent of a school semester of focused work to achieve.  One can often do their EMT and FF1 at the same time.  If we go immediately from EMT to employment in the EMS field through always available private service jobs, we should be able to achieve the EMTP designation within about two total years from the beginning of the EMT class while gaining invaluable on the job experience.  When we become an EMTP in this day and age…We put ourselves into a whole different testing realm with far less competition.

Unless your dream is to:

serve in the military and then…

or get a college degree and then…

You should be getting the application requirements for your top ten departments achieved, become a master test taker, and then begin doing work in a related industry.(read:  EMS!)  These will give you your best initial chances for the badge.  Everything else is an ADDITION to these things.

I can’t wait to read the email, or meet you and hear you say,   “Paul, I did it!”  Do it sooner if this is your biggest dream.  If you’re constantly trying to better yourself and improve the lot of those around you…Then your worthy of the career right now.  Get there, directly!


PS.  I must take a second to thank the men and women of our military services for their protection,support, and sacrifice for our country.  We wouldn’t have the luxury of dreaming without them.

Thank you guys…With all my heart…Thank you.

I’ve now got a free list of commonly asked oral board questions and a written exam pretest at my blog here:

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One Response

  1. Paul Card Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Hi Bryan-
    Thanks for your comment and questions. I can answer your question most accurately by stating the following:

    It’s not necessarily true that minimum requirements combined with excellent test-taking skills isn’t enough to get the job, but its not going to get any easier over the next several years.

    In short, you’ve got to become an excellent test-taker AND get beyond the minimum requirements, but get your minimum requirements and excellent test taking skills first and start taking exams right away.

    Your questions have inspired me to write a blog article on the subject, so look for it very soon here on firecareers or at my blog.