How Much Do Firefighters Make?

Three firefighters putting out an house fire.
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A firefighter is a person who responds to emergencies, working to put out building fires or wildfires and keeping people safe. They also respond to potential gas leaks and car accidents and may provide fire safety education to the public. 

Firefighting can be a high-pressure job that requires a person to remain calm and think quickly in stressful situations. It’s physically and mentally demanding, and it requires working long shifts — sometimes as long as 24 hours. Injuries are more common in this job because the situations firefighters respond to are frequently high risk. 

How much do firefighters make to perform such a taxing and sometimes dangerous job? Here’s a closer look.

How Much Do Firefighters Make in the U.S.?

According to recent data from Indeed, the average annual salary for a firefighter is $52,532.

How much a firefighter makes varies significantly depending on location. The highest-paying states in the U.S. for the position are:

  1. Nebraska
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New Jersey
  4. Nevada
  5. Illinois
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Are Firefighters Paid Hourly or Salary?

Firefighters usually get paid hourly and are generally on rotations that range from 7 to 28 consecutive days. They can also earn overtime, which depends on factors outlined by the Fair Labor Standards Act and their work periods rather than their non-traditional schedules. Under Section 7(k), when overtime officially begins for firefighters varies based on their specific work period. A firefighter working a 14-day work period begins earning overtime sooner than one working a 28-day period.

Do Firefighters Get Benefits?

Many fire departments offer benefits packages, varying from one department to the next. Some examples of potential benefits include:

  • Medical, dental and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Disability
  • Academic scholarship opportunities for themselves or family members
  • Retirement after a set number of years of service

Final Take

Being a firefighter is a demanding job. While it doesn’t net the highest salary, it can be an incredibly rewarding career. Benefits can also help. Those interested in becoming a firefighter should check their local fire department to learn more about salary, benefits and which requirements they need to meet. 

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FAQ

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about being a firefighter.
  • Do firefighters need a college degree?
    • Entry-level firefighter positions don't require a college degree. However, getting a degree or specialized training applicable directly to a particular role within the fire department a person want to pursue can help increase their job prospects.
  • What type of schedule does a firefighter work?
    • Firefighters work non-traditional schedules. They often work 24-hour shifts with 48 to 72 hours off in-between. Others may work 12-hour shifts or shifts known as the "California swing shift." With this shift, they have 24-hour shifts every other day for five days, then they get 96 hours off.
  • How does firefighter pay compare to similar jobs?
    • Here's a look at the salary information for similar jobs based on data collected by Indeed:
      • Firefighter/EMT: $49,874
      • Firefighter/Paramedic: $62,929
      • Wildland Firefighter: $53,510
      • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT): $44,418

Information is accurate as of Sept. 16, 2022.

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About the Author

Jessica Moore is a full-time freelance writer based out of Georgia. She has been writing professionally for five years, covering a variety of topics including finance, pharmaceuticals, and insurance. Outside of writing, she is an avid baker and loves to travel. She resides with her husband and their young daughter, along with a stubborn English Bulldog and a mouth rescue cat. 
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