As a junior in high school, the best thing you can do right now to help you become a firefighter is get into shape physically, especially through participation in team-sports if possible (everything we do is as a team!). You might also benefit from working part-time (or volunteering) in a field that teaches you about construction, medicine, or operating tools and equipment. If your school offers them, or you can find something online, you might consider taking classes on anatomy and physiology, first aid, CPR, building construction, etc. Except for the physical fitness, none of these things are essential to becoming a firefighter, they just may give you a leg-up later on.
After high school, the two things that may be required to become a firefighter are a completed Firefighter Academy and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license. Both of these are often offered at one of your local community colleges. Each usually takes one semester, so plan on another full-year of schooling after high school.
Another thing to consider is look into becoming a volunteer firefighter. It's a great way to get experience and get your foot in the door. Since you're a volunteer, many organizations won't require you to have all your certifications right away to get started, and some will even pay for your Fire Academy / EMT classes in exchange for your volunteer time!
If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out. My best advice is just be patient. Becoming a firefighter can be competitive, and may take a few years. Don't give up if you don't make it the first time. Don't be afraid to get work experience in a related field while you're waiting and working towards getting hired - work as an EMT, lifeguard, volunteer firefighter, wildland firefighter, carpenter, electrician, plumber, etc. Experience in any of the trades or public safety will make you a more well-rounded firefighter.
- Make Sure You’re Fit to be a Firefighter
- Meet the Requirements & Take the Tests
Virtually all firefighter entry-level job applicants must be at least 18 years old, and possess both a high school diploma (or equivalent) and valid driver’s license for the jurisdiction in which the applicant will be working. Applicants will also be required to obtain Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, either at the time of application or shortly thereafter.
- Prepare for a Firefighter Career: Education Options
- Become Trained as an EMT
- Receive Firefighter Training at a Fire Academy
- Apply to Your Firefighting Dream Jobs
Good luck and hope this helps!