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Firefighter

Alternative titles for this job include Fireman, firewoman

Firefighters respond to emergency call outs, search and rescue incidents and road traffic accidents. They also give advice on fire safety.

Average salary (a year)

£28,000 Starter

to

£42,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

42 to 48 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Firefighter

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • a fire service training course

College

You could take a college course before applying to join the fire service as a trainee, though this is not essential. 

Courses include:

  • public services
  • fire and recue services in the community

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

More Information

Apprenticeship

You could apply for an Operational Firefighter Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship with a fire and rescue service.

The apprenticeship takes about 2 years and combines on-the-job training with off-site study.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, in English and maths

More Information

Volunteering

Volunteering or working in a support role, for example emergency call handling or fire safety home visits, will give you an idea of what the job is like, as well as access to internal vacancies. You'll usually need to be 18 or over.

Most fire and rescue services also run a Fire Cadets scheme. They're typically aimed at young people aged between 13 and 17 and offer a few hours' training each week in:

  • basic fire fighting drills
  • using equipment
  • first aid
  • fire safety

Contact your local fire service to find out more about volunteering opportunities and fire cadets.

Direct Application

You can apply directly to join the fire service. Each service sets its own entry requirements.

Many ask for GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.

The selection process can take some time and involves:

  • online aptitude tests
  • attendance at an assessment centre
  • fitness and medical checks
  • interviews

Fire services hold regular outreach events where you can speak to firefighters about the job and register your interest for upcoming vacancies.

Other Routes

You may be able to join the fire service as an on-call firefighter.

You'll be trained to deal with a broad range of incidents in return for a commitment to provide shift cover during days, nights and weekends. This is a paid position and could lead to a full-time role when opportunities arise.

You can also train to be a firefighter in the Royal Air Force (RAF).

More Information

Career tips

Fire services take on new recruits at different times of the year, so check with your local fire service to find out when they are recruiting next.

Further information

You can contact your local fire and rescue service for a firefighter careers information and recruitment pack.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • physical fitness and endurance
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

Some fire services may only accept applications from people living in the local and surrounding areas.

Generally, there is no upper age limit to join.

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a firefighter, you could:

  • carry out practice drills and respond to emergency call outs
  • control and put out fires
  • rescue people and animals from burning buildings and incident sites
  • deal with natural disasters like floods or storm damage
  • manage chemical or hazardous substance spills
  • give presentations to schools and community groups
  • inspect buildings to make sure they meet fire safety regulations

Working environment

You could work at a fire station, at a client's home or at a client's business.

Your working environment may be at height, cramped and physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment and a uniform.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

All fire services have a programme that lets you plan and track your career development.

You could work your way up to crew manager, watch manager or station manager. 

If you're prepared to move between services, you could become:

  • an area manager
  • a brigade manager
  • a chief fire officer

If you're involved in fire safety and prevention work, you can take professional qualifications leading to membership of The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE).

You could also get a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence for driving fire engines.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

RAF Firefighter - Full Time Career with Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £21,091 a year Annually
  • Location: Waterwells Drive, Gloucester, Gloucestershire

RAF Firefighter - Full Time Career with Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £21,091 a year Annually
  • Location: Albrighton, Wolverhampton

Courses In England

Public Protective Services - Level 3

  • Provider: THE COLLEGE OF WEST ANGLIA
  • Start date: 05 September 2024
  • Location: King's Lynn

L3 Diploma Public Services

  • Provider: SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE AND STROUD COLLEGE
  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Bristol

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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