May 14, 2009

Reader Mailbag: Fire Fighter Jobs

Each Thursday, I answer a reader question about their job search process. I love hearing from you, so please don’t be shy — send me your questions via email or leave a comment in the section below.  Check out past Reader Mailbags, where we cover everything from job search tips for college grads to legitimate work from home jobs.

Dear JobMonkey,

I was thinking about applying to be a fire fighter. I am an EMT, but our ambulance corps has been cut and it just doesn’t seem like the most stable job. The firehouse, on the other hand, seems like a good, recession-proof job. And I hear the pay is good and there’s a good pension plan, too. What do you think? Is it a secure job?

Thank you,
John in Chicago

Dear John,

Thanks for your question. You are on the right track because the job of a firefighter is always one of those positions that seem to make the list of recession-proof jobs.

Of course, a quick Google search will reveal that many, many towns are experiencing hiring freezers and some are even cutting back their rescue budgets — including laying off experienced salaried fire fighters in lieu of volunteer firefighters.  That said, with your experience as an EMT, you’d definitely be a valuable member of the team.

As far as salary and pension go, that will really vary by city and state. Pensions, in general, are becoming an increasingly rare benefit — especially in this era of dwindling local budgets. According to, the three states with the highest median salary for firefighters are California, New York and Illinois.

For more on firefighter pay, check out JobMonkey’s article on the topic. There is also plenty of information on the fire fighter application process and recruit training if you want to do some more research before you make your career change.

Good luck with your decision! I think either way, you can’t go wrong.

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