Firefighters: Salary Overview
Firefighters respond to fires and other emergencies where life, property, or the environment are at risk.
Their job responsibilities may include driving firetrucks, using water hoses to put out a fire, treating sick or injured people, preparing written reports, cleaning equipment, and conducting drills.
When they are not responding to an emergency, firefighters are on call at the fire station.
Here they typically inspect the equipment, practice drills, eat, sleep, and remain on call.
Firefighter shifts usually last 24 hours and they are off duty the following 48 to 72 hours.
Some work 10/14 shifts which means that they are at work for 10 hours and off duty for 14 hours.
When fighting wildland or forest fires, firefighters may work long hours and they may have to stay at the scene for days or weeks.
Some firefighters work with hazardous materials and are trained to control and clean up hazardous materials, including chemical accidents and oil spills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), the median annual wage for firefighters was $50,850 in May 2019.
Their salaries may vary based on a wide range of factors and some firefighters make less than $25,550 a year while others make more than $92,020, according to the report published by BLS.
As an entry-level firefighter, you can expect to earn somewhere close to the minimum for this profession but your earnings will increase as you gain experience.
Firefighter Salary by Industry
Firefighters may work for state governments, for the federal government, or for local governments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters held 332,400 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them (89%) work for local governments.
State governments hired approximately 3% percent of all firefighters, while 2% of them worked for the federal government.
These numbers exclude volunteer firefighters – according to the National Fire Protection Agency the majority of firefighters (two thirds) are volunteer firefighters.
Salaries vary depending on the industry of employment.
As of May 2019, the median annual wage for firefighters who worked for state governments was $55,030 while those who worked for the federal government earned a median annual wage of $52,140.
The median annual salary for firefighters who worked for local governments was $51,850 in May 2019.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14,520 firefighters worked in the field of Other Support Services and earned a median annual wage of $35,590.
About 700 firefighters worked for in the field of Other Ambulatory Health Care Sevices; the mean annual wage for firefighters who work in this industry was $38,400.
The highest wages were reported by firefighters who worked in the field of Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing, a field where the mean annual wage was $65,330 in May 2019.
Firefighters who worked in the Scientific Research and Development Services earned an average annual wage of $63,400 a year.
Some firefighters worked for Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools- a field where the mean annual wage for firefighters was $63,090.
However, there are only a few jobs available for firefighters in these top-paying industries, and competition is expected to be strong.
For example, firefighters held only 390 jobs in the field of Aerospace Products and Parts Manufacturing and 100 jobs in Scientific Research and Development Services.
Most firefighters also receive medical, dental, and vision benefits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for firefighters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028.
They will continue to be needed to respond to fires and emergency situations and applicants who are physically fit and have completed some postsecondary firefighter and paramedic training should have the best job prospects.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Firefighters. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.