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College student thinking of pursing career of firefighter/paramedic

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  • College student thinking of pursing career of firefighter/paramedic

    Hello, I'm currently attending a community college and for the last 4 or so months I've been unsure of what I wanted to do. I've thought about becoming a firefighter in the past along with jobs in the medical field. I was looking through the college catalog and seen programs for firefighter/paramedics. I've been thinking about it the last couple days and I really think it's something I want to get into. I came across this site while googling, and thought it would be a good place for more info. Is it a good career? Do you enjoy your jobs?

  • #2


    what state are you in??

    How old are you?


    • #3
      18, Michigan


      • #4
        Hard to get hired

        If you want to stay in Michigan find out what the state / cities require just to put in an application

        If you are willing to move out of state , some states have more openings and less competition


        • #5

          I've loved the job for 23 years now, and am looking forward to many more years in the field. As long as you go into it expecting to do plenty of EMS and work hard, you'll be fine. Oh, and expect crappier pay and benefits than the guy you will replace. Sorry, it's the way the world is now.

          MI is a tough hiring environment for firefighters right now, and Waterford is about to lay off the 39 guys on the SAFER grant, which will make it even more competitive. Almost every FD in the state (except Detroit) requires FF I/II and EMT to be hired, and a majority require Paramedic. That's two years of full time school. I would advise the following for someone starting out at your age:

          1. Stay out of trouble. A DUI or felony will sink your chances. Driving record is very important. The background check will turn up EVERYTHING.

          2. Decide if you will stay in state. MI FF I/II is not recognized out of state. Most other states use IFSAC or NPQ certifications, so if you take FF I/II in those states you will have more options. If you're not sure you want to leave yet, go ahead and do EMT. MI and most states will accept National Registry EMT, and many will let you transfer a MI EMT state license.

          3. Take EMT first and start working for an ambulance company to gain some experience. If you aren't willing to work with sick people, you'll be better off finding out early. If you don't want to work as an EMT, find something in a trade-Construction, welding, mechanics, HVAC, electrical, etc. Trade skills are not only helpful to becoming a good firefighter, but also for setting up a side job after you are established on an FD.

          4. Go to a Fire Academy, which is 8-10 weeks full time unless you get hired by a paid on call department that will sponsor you for a night academy. Rent or borrow gear, don't buy new stuff. Another advantage of working on an ambulance is availability of afternoon/night/weekend shifts so you can work during the academy and pay the bills.

          5. Apply to every career FD you can once you have FF/EMT. Many use consolidated testing (Western Wayne, EMPCO, etc) so one written test will get you on multiple lists. Most that require paramedic don't require it until time of hire, and since tests take time and openings come sporadically, you may have time to get licensed. Study test and interview strategies on the internet and buy the practice books.

          6. Take paramedic. Another reason to work for the ambulance company-maybe they will pay tuition assistance to upgrade from EMT to Medic.

          7. Apply to a paid on call/volunteer dept to run with and gain experience.

          Chances of getting hired on your first few tries and while under the age of 22 are slim. Maturity is important, and so is life experience. Expect it to take a while to improve your test taking and interview skills.

          Good luck.


          • #6
            I'm 20 and have been doing this for a few years now (yes, as a paid ff, I started the academy when I was 16 at my high school). It's quite a move but if you don't have any opposition to moving Auburn Fire Division (Auburn, Alabama) has a student firefighter program allowing students at Auburn University, the local community college, or online universities to become full time paid firefighters to go to school for free. I won't get into all the details unless you really are interested in the program but it allows you to get a taste of what it really is like while still getting your degree.


            • #7
              This is the greatest job ever! (that's my opinion) but I would be lying to you if I said that it's the perfect job. It has it's pros and cons and by no means is this job right for everyone. I started as a single guy in this career and I loved the work schedule 24on 48 off. I still like the schedule but now I'm married with a kid and another one on the way and I miss good quality family time/holidays/birthdays, so that makes it tuff. Plus sleepless nights at the firehouse and sleepless nights at home with a baby are rough! I think I'm part zombie anymore. But you try to put me in suit and tie or put me in a cubicle I would loose my mind! My best advice is see if you can ride out with some local 911 departments. This will give you an idea of what it is really like on a day to day basis. Good luck with your decision!! I'm in Indiana and we also just do the ff1/2


              • #8
                I was in a similar position. I started putting in applications at 18 and was in my first year in college. Now it's a year later and I'm finishing my 3rd semester and will be starting my first fire job in January.

                I know I don't have very many credentials to be giving advice, but It depends on how interested you are in what you are currently studying. Though I plan on finishing college online In the future, college just isn't for me really. My major isn't me and neither is paying a crap ton of money every year. Like the others said before me, join a volunteer department and see how you like it. You wouldn't want to make a huge decision like that without knowing what you're getting into.

                Also like others said, get your EMT. This will look awesome on any resume, let alone one for a fire job. EMS makes up a majority of calls in the fire service so this will give you a great idea of whether it's for you or not.

                Whether you're volunteer or career, it's an awesome and extremely noble thing to do. You will love it if you decide to do it, but don't dedicate yourself before you know what you're getting into. Also, if you decide to go for a career in fire, BE PATIENT. I know guys that waited 5+ years before they were hired. Expand your search to more than just your local area and build that r?sum?.

                Good luck to you man.


                • #9
                  Given that the original post was in 2014 I hope that this young man has made a choice by now.

                  I know ... I'm just being a wise-*****.
                  Train to fight the fires you fight.


                  • #10

                    I don't know what area you are from but I'm sure you have heard of the LCC program for Fire and Paramedic. I'm currently finishing up my last semester of Paramedic and would definitely recommend it. That being said understand this profession is incredibly difficult to find a rewarding career in. I've applied 4 times to career departments(twice to the same one) and the best I've gotten is put on an eligibility list with little hope of actually getting a job. It's tough: especially as a white male. I'm 23, a veteran, very mature and hold a bachelors and still cannot find work: not even as an EMT within a reasonable distance of where I live. This market is tough; fire departments prefer residency and the one in domain actually prefers people without any experience.

                    That being said you need to do Paramedic and FF in order to get into a job. I would recommend to you to do EMT as soon as possible or at the same time as fire if you could and to enter a Paramedic program starting in the fall of 2018. Reasonable I probably would have a job by now if I wasn't excluded from the hiring processes of placing requiring paramedic and am hoping that I can find a job soon.

                    Don't get fatigued in the process, I had one friend, fellow unemployed veteran, who simply cannot find a job and is getting incredibly depressed about it. To the point he won't pursue paramedic to increase his changes. I would pursue a four year degree on the side: they say it doesn't help but some hiring algorithms do place emphasis on it.

                    Goodluck, if you any questions on Lansing Community College or our local fire departments feel free to ask!


                    • #11
                      In today's, the technical world this career option is not good. Instead you should try any online money doing a business that suits your personality.


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