Overview

The aspiration of every child who wants to be a hero!

Firefighter EMTs are the first responders to fires and medical emergencies. This is a great career option for those who fit the psychological profile and there will never be a shortage of available positions, with an estimated wage of around $48,000 per annum. It is far from being an easy option, however, and there are some very specific requirements.

In terms of education, most jurisdictions require a firefighter EMT to have a high school diploma or a GED and possibly a previous certification in EMT, which can often be studied at community colleges or technical institutes. You will need a good level of basic literacy and IT skills. So, it is not the most demanding career choice in terms of academic qualifications. but it is the personal requirements that really set it aside from other career paths.

To make an effective firefighter EMT you need to be physically fit, to have exceptional judgement and be experienced in risk assessment. You need to be able to make fast judgement calls about situations to best protect both other people and yourself. You need to have a clean driver’s license; you must be able to pass regular drugs screening; and you must be good at listening and following instructions.

You will receive continuous on the job training and your desire to learn and to keep up with best practices must be genuine and enthusiastic – as must your desire to help others. For many, this is a vocational role, but that is not to say it can not be a reasonable and calculated career choice, as long as the passion and dedication is there.

Pay

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for EMTs and Paramedics (the U.S Bureau of Labor of Statistics groups these two professions together since many state/county/local governments do this) to be just over $31,700 per year.

Salary aggregator Payscale separates the two professions, on the other hand, putting the median U.S salary for Emergency Medical Technicians & Paramedics at just under $37,000 per year. They also put dedicated firefighter salary a little higher at just over $46,000 per year. Some larger cities like New York and Chicago, for example, will separate these professions, while more local governments may combine them as mentioned above.

Salaries depend greatly on the location of the job. Large metropolitan areas such as New York City and Los Angeles have more jobs and pay higher than smaller cities, counties, and villages between coasts.

Pay for EMTs and Paramedics grows steadily from years 0-15, but then seems to level off for professionals with more than 15 years of experience. Entry level EMTs and Paramedics come in just under $30,000 annually, growing steadily towards the $35-37,000 mark, which is usually obtained after 10 years of experience, and then hold steady thereafter.

Dedicated Firefighter salaries, on the other hand, grow steadily throughout the career of the Firefighter. Entry level professionals make just under $40,000 and that continues to grow all the way to late-career professionals who can make over $60,000 per year once they start surpassing 20 years of experience.

EMT & Firefighter Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay$31,700 per year
$15.24 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationPostsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation?Not Required
On-the-job Training Required?Frequent
Number of Jobs, 2014-2024241,200
Job Outlook, 2014-2024+24%
Employment Change, 2014-2024+58,500
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Hourly rates are around $15 per hour for EMTs and Firefighters, alike, and both have ample opportunity to earn more through overtime work which usually pays substantially more than regular rates ($18-$30/hour).  Since workers in this profession are often “on-call”, meaning they may have to work at a moments notice, 24 hours a day, there are often situations in which overtime work is necessary.

Industry Forecast

The job outlook for EMTs, Paramedics, and Firefighters is quite a rosy one at +24% between the years 2014 and 2024. To put this more into perspective, the national average of ALL occupations is only expected to grow at 7% for the same timespan.

Emergencies continue increase with increasing populations, and things like natural disasters brought on by global climate change only exacerbate an already strenuous situation, creating an ever-increasing demand for professionals capable of helping to serve and assist the public.

The rising numbers of aging baby boomers will also create a higher demand for EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters, as a massive segment of the American population enters retirement, which over time also brings an increased demand in health services. Likewise, an increased construction boom for specialized medical facilities nation-wide will also require a whole army of EMTs and Paramedics to help transport citizens to these new facilities for treatment.

Types of EMTs

This page was written to be relevant to multiple emergency response personnel including Emergency Medical Technicians, Paramedics, and Firefighters. We have combined EMTs and Paramedics with Firefighters just because there are many professionals across America who perform both functions.

Within the Emergency Response field there are several subfields/job titles you may hear while job hunting. These include:

EMT-B (EMT Basic): These are your entry-level EMTs with less than 110 hours of training and who typically carry out fewer responsibilities than more experienced EMTs. Duties typically carried out by EMT-Bs include:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Automated external defibrillation (AED)
  • Bone splinting
  • Suctioning fluids to assist more advanced EMTs

EMT-I (EMT Intermediate): These are mid-level professionals with 2-400 hours of training and they carry out a broader range of responsibilities than EMT-Bs. Duties typically carried out by EMT-I’s include all of the above plus:

  • IV treatment
  • Endotracheal intubations

EMT-P (EMT Paramedic): These are your “Paramedics” and are the most advanced form of emergency response personnel. EMT-Ps have over two-years of training and perform the most advanced “in-the-field” responsibilities in regards to treating injured subjects. Their duties include:

  • Administering drugs intravenously and by mouth
  • Reading lab results, EKGs, and X-rays
  • Cleaning wounds
  • Conducting manual defibrillation

If you work internationally or are in a country that is part of the United Nations, you may classify first responders as Type 1 Fixed, Type 1 Mobile, Type 2, Type 3 and Specialized Teams. These are international classifications and are similar to American classifications in that the higher up you go, the more experience the responder will have.

Additionally, there are subsets of Paramedics, as well, depending on different equipment they may be experienced with or different environments in which they operate, such as land, air and sea. Some of these include:

  • Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) Paramedics
  • Air Ambulance Paramedics
  • Ambulance Community Officers
  • Bicycle Response Paramedics
  • Clinical Instructors
  • Community Emergency Response Team Volunteers
  • Graduate Paramedics
  • Clinical Support Officers
  • Wilderness Response Paramedics
  • Aquatic Paramedics
  • Intensive Care Paramedic (ICP)
  • Retrieval Paramedic (RP)
  • General Care Paramedic (GCP)

Firefighters, on the other hand, do not have quite as many variations of professional sub-categories. Instead, Firefighters are organized by both “type” and “seniority”.  On the seniority level we have:

    • Firefighters and EMTs
    • Fire Prevention Workers
    • Fire Lieutenants
    • Fire Captains
    • Fire Inspectors/Investigator
    • Fire Chiefs

While the above titles indicate the experience level and the level of authority a career Firefighter will have, below are some examples of different “types” of Firefighters that work in different specialized ways and which can hold any of the above mentioned experience levels/titles within their own specialized fields.

Urban Structural Firefighters – These Firefighters work in larger cities and suburbs and are skilled with handling a wide variety of fire emergencies in addition to automobile accidents and natural disasters. These are the types of Firefighters who are also commonly EMTs and/or Paramedics as well as they are often first responders and thus need to be equipped to handle varies levels of medical emergencies as well as dealing with fires.

Airport Firefighters – These types of Firefighters are often referred to as “ARFF” which stands for Airport Rescue FireFighters. As the name implies, these Firemen are specialized in dealing with emergencies that may occur at airports. They require specialized training as dealing with things like jet-fuel require different tactics than a typical suburban home might.

Industrial Firefighters – These are specialists that work in industrial zones and have special knowledge and training in preventing and managing industrial-based fires that may be fueled by atypical fuel sources as many industrial sites work with highly volatile chemicals.

Wildland Firefighters – These are the guys you see on the news whenever a huge forest fire breaks out that requires highly-mobile fire fighting teams. These types of Firefighters often work in extreme terrain, sometimes for weeks at a time with little rest, and have to be self-sufficient in very challenging natural locations. These brave individuals are often employed seasonally as brush fires typically spark up in summer-fall times.

Contract Firefighters – These are private industry Firefighters who work for organizations or corporations. They also work all around the world, depending on who hires them. Often times working by year-long contracts, these are some of the highest paid Firefighters, as many corporations have much larger budgets than local governments these days.

Resume Example Download

Below is an example of a professionally written EMT resume that works perfectly for Paramedics and Firefighters alike. Feel free to download the file, print it out, take notes, whatever you have to do to write the best resume you can. We recommend you do not copy it directly, however, as your resume should reflect your unique experiences and skills that make you stand out from the competition.

View Large Version

How To Write Your Own

Writing your own EMT/Firefighter resume should not be a scary ordeal, especially given what professionals like yourself experience on a daily basis in terms of violent accidents, traumas, and life-and-death situations.

To start things off, know that your resume should be restricted to one page in length unless you are very senior within your profession, such as “Fire Chief”, in which case you can still probably stick to one page by reducing total bullet points and only listing cities and locations where you managed firefighting operations.

Adhere to standardized margins all around and a boring font. The goal is to impress with the content of the resume, not the style.  You will have four main parts of your resume, including:

  1. The Career Objective
  2. Experience Section
  3. Education/Certification Section
  4. Additional Skills Section

The Career Objective is discussed in further detail below. The Experience section is where you will list the cities/counties/states in which you worked, the date in reverse chronological order, and the primary duties you carried out in that position. Do not be afraid to get technical here, as anyone looking to hire an EMT will know what AED and CPR stands for. (If they don’t, you probably do not want to work there, anyway!)

Talk about your critical thinking and teamwork skills, as EMTs and Firefighters both often have to coordinate with law enforcement, critical care staff, nurses and other health professionals.  Teams want to add individuals who do not need to be told what to do all the time but  instead analyze a situation and react in a medically prudent fashion.

Also mention any personnel you managed in numerical terms as the numbers will draw the reader’s eye and help add scope to your responsibilities. Likewise, if you managed a budget for equipment acquisition, for example, include that in dollar terms for the same reasons.

Finally, depending on the position you are applying for, try to get as specialized as possible. For example, if you are applying for a Firefighting job at an international airport, you will want to mention your experience operating specialized aircraft firefighting rigs or experience working on specific aircraft fueling systems and/or engines. The more you can illustrate how you have mastered your craft, the more desirable a candidate you will be.

In your education and skills section, mention all the certificates, courses and training you have taken in your career as an EMT or Firefighter. This is one profession where certifications hold water, and the more you have, the more deployable you are to the organization looking to hire you. Also, by showing continual skills acquisition you will demonstrate you are a constant learner and always looking to expand your skill-set, which in an age of shrinking government budgets, makes you a highly versatile and thus highly valuable asset on any emergency response unit.

Sample Bullet Points

Below is a selection of bullet points selected specifically for EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters. Read through these and then jot down some ideas you have on a piece of paper. Select the best points from this list and your own brainstorming so that your resume is a perfect combination of commonly desired experiences as well as unique experiences you have gained over the years of both training and on-the-job work.

Useful EMT/Firefighter Bullet Points

Administer first aid treatment or life support care to sick or injured persons in prehospital settings.
Operate equipment, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), external defibrillators, or bag valve mask resuscitators, in advanced life support environments.
Perform emergency diagnostic and treatment procedures, such as stomach suction, airway management, or heart monitoring, during ambulance ride.
Observe, record, and report to physician the patient's condition or injury, the treatment provided, and reactions to drugs or treatment.
Assess nature and extent of illness or injury to establish and prioritize medical procedures.
Drive mobile intensive care unit to specified location, following instructions from emergency medical dispatcher.
Decontaminate ambulance interior following treatment of patient with infectious disease and report case to proper authorities.
Administer drugs, orally or by injection, or perform intravenous procedures under a physician's direction.
Immobilize patient for placement on stretcher and ambulance transport, using backboard or other spinal immobilization device.
Coordinate work with other emergency medical team members or police or fire department personnel.
Maintain vehicles and medical and communication equipment and replenish first aid equipment and supplies.
Communicate with dispatchers or treatment center personnel to provide information about situation, to arrange reception of victims, or to receive instructions for further treatment.
Coordinate with treatment center personnel to obtain patients' vital statistics and medical history, to determine the circumstances of the emergency, and to administer emergency treatment.
Comfort and reassure patients.
Attend training classes to maintain certification licensure, keep abreast of new developments in the field, or maintain existing knowledge.
Source: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2041.00

Career Objective Writing

The career objective is the opener to your resume and should be limited to just one or two sentences. You will want to state your background/experience and how it is relevant to the position you are applying for. This means stating your years of experience and your educational experience numerically. You then state your desire to work for whatever organization you are applying to.

Do not sweat too much over the career objective as the only real purpose is to first reassure the reader that this resume is in fact relevant to the position they are seeking to fill and then to entice the reader to dig deeper into the body or “meat” of your resume which includes the experience and education sections where you will “sell” them into asking you in for an interview.

The best way to perfect your career objective is to write three of them. Take your time and perhaps consider writing them on three separate days to give your brain enough time to reboot and think of other angles. Finally, use process of elimination to select the best career objective for your resume. Don’t be afraid to poll your friends or family, or best yet, other EMT/Firefighters you may know for their opinion about your resume as they might identify mistakes you have missed or  things you have completely forgotten to include.

Additional Skills & Certifications

For EMTs you first need your EMT certificate. You can then pursue additional training over years to advance through the various EMT classes mentioned above. For a full list of requirements and how to test visit the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or (NREMT).

For Firefighter certification requirements and details you will want to search your own state level requirements as they vary from state to state.

Additional skills that are valued for both types of resumes include things like:

  • Volunteer work
  • First Aid knowledge and CPR certification
  • Deep understanding of medical terminology and nurse vocabulary
  •  Training other less-experienced EMTs
  • Solid communication and teamwork skills
  • Consistent and dependable track record

Additional skills are also highly dependent on individual applicant work histories. Try to include at least a few bullet points here that you think other applicants will not have and that may help you stand out from the competition a bit, like specialized regional knowledge or specialized equipment experience like operating hydraulic rescue tools such as  the “jaws of life”.

Additional Resources

Industry Authorities

National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI)

International Association of FireFighters (AFL-CIO, CLC)

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT)

National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP)

International Association of EMTs & Paramedics (IAEP)