A Firefighter

The LAFD's STARTING salary is $53,766 a year

Becoming a Firefighter

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Becoming a firefighter is one of the most challenging and rewarding career paths you can embark on. Every day you will encounter unique challenges that will test you physically, emotionally and mentally to the utmost. You have a valued part in the community and act as a role model to today's youth.

Preparation for a career in firefighting should ideally start in high school. This will give you time to take the appropriate classes and learn the right skills. In school, make sure you have mastered the basics: reading comprehension and writing, familiarity with computers and math. Familiarity in other areas such as chemistry, biology, auto mechanics, carpentry and architecture will also be very useful. If you are between the ages of 14 and 20, you may be eligible to become a Fire Explorer (click here for details). Many colleges and universities offer courses or even entire programs for studies in the fire sciences or emergency medical services. Keep in mind that there are many career opportunities available to you as you gain experience in firefighting; please see the Career Profiles listed in this section to see how broad this range is.

Firefighting is very much a team effort, so any activities such as student government, sports and part-time jobs where you have a lot of contact with other people will build interpersonal skills and help you to develop the ability to work well with others. Firefighting is physically challenging. Applicants should be in excellent physical shape and work to maintain exercise regimens to improve strength, stamina, and dexterity.

The life of a firefighter is not for everyone. A new recruit will not have a "9 to 5" typical business schedule. You will be asked to work overnight, 24-hour or longer shifts and asked to perform physical and manual-labor duties. You will encounter situations that require you to be in very high and confined spaces. Firefighting is dangerous work and the ability to think clearly and calmly in crisis situations is extremely important.

But for those who would like an atypical career, great salary, benefits and job security, assume an active and important role in the community, and enjoy the camaraderie of their crew while using their physical and mental abilities to help save lives, becoming a firefighter might be the most important decision you've ever made!