Firefighters must have a high school diploma or equivalent and a valid driver's license to apply for positions with state and local fire departments. Firefighters must also pass written and physical exams, and multiple interviews in order to gain employment. Once hired, firefighters must also complete regional or state on-the-job training to advance in their career.
Firefighters receive classroom and field training in fire prevention, fire-fighting and emergency medical procedures by local fire departments, state safety agencies or the National Fire Academy. Additional training in disaster preparedness, hazardous materials control, anti-arson techniques, and state and local building codes may be necessary to maintain employment with most fire departments. Firefighters may also be required to earn and maintain CPR, EMT-Basic and EMT-Paramedic certifications. Additional coursework, training or bachelor degrees in fire science or public administration help firefighters advance in their career.
Firefighters can apply for advanced positions such as lieutenant, captain, battalion chief and fire chief by completing additional education and training in fire fighting and business administration. Firefighters must be able to demonstrate knowledge, leadership and expertise in the field to be considered for these positions. The ability to lead a team and work with others can help a firefighter advance.