How to Become a Firefighter in Florida – Schools and Degree Programs

Firefighter Career in Florida

The firefighter must complete the Firefighter Minimum Standards Course in the state of Florida to pursue a career in this field. If you are based out of Florida and want to work as a fireman in the state, you must complete equivalent hours of training in another state and qualify the state certification exam. Certified aspirants from another state need to pass the Firefighter Minimum Standards Equivalency Exam.

If you possess a Florida Firefighter One Certificate of Competency, you may take permission from the Certified Training Center to enter the Firefighter Minimum Standards Course at the beginning of the Firefighter II program.

Firefighter Florida Education Requirements

Fire departments in different cities of Florida have their set of requirements. However, firefighters in Florida must meet the following general requirements.

  • Aspirants must be of at least 18 years.
  • Clear the physical examination to prove your capability to work under strenuous working conditions.
  • GED or a high school diploma is the minimum education requirement.
  • Pass the criminal background check.
  • If you have completed your firefighter certification from another state, but want to work in Florida, you will have to submit the documents of your training to the state of Florida and verify your knowledge by taking an equivalency certification examination.

How Long does it take to Become a Firefighter?

Depending on your career aspirations, it may take 2 to 7 years to become a certified firefighter in the state of Florida. Some factors that affect the duration of becoming a fireman are competition in the job market and your proficiency in studies.

Volunteer Firefighter in Florida

By serving the community as a volunteer firefighter not only provides you with a sense of accomplishment but also offers several other firefighter benefits. Aspirants can gain experience in real working environment and expand their professional network by taking Florida volunteer firefighter jobs. Some fire academies and fire departments also pay a stipend or hourly wages to these professionals in lieu of their services. Moreover, you can hone your skills and prepare yourself to complete your regular job.

How Much do Firefighters Make in Florida?

Wondering what the starting salary for fighters in Florida is? According to salary.com, firefighters in Florida earned a salary between $32,400 and $53,999 (as of September 28, 2018). These professionals earned an average salary of $43,199.

As of September 27, 2018, according to indeed.com, firefighter/paramedic in Florida was paid an average annual salary of $50,152. Firefighters made different wages in different cities of Florida – they made $49,902; $45,020; $41,853; and $40,617 in Boca Raton, Saint Cloud, Placida, and Bartow, respectively.

As of May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida professional firefighters made the mean salary of $52,170 per annum and $25.08 per hour. The average annual salary of firefighters at 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile was $29,320; $37,100; $50,170, $65,340; and $79,560, respectively.

Firefighter Jobs in Florida

As of May 2017, Florida was the third state after California and Texas with highest employment levels for firefighters. Total employment in the state was 24,430 and employment per thousand jobs was 2.90 (according to the BLS).

Certified firefighters in Florida can expect a bright future. The retiring firefighters will lead to job openings for aspirants. Furthermore, after completing higher education and working as a fireman for a few years, these professionals can climb the ladder of hierarchy and attain the positions of Fire Officer, Fire Inspector, Fire Marshal, etc.

Firefighter Training Program

Aspirants need to complete Firefighter Minimum Standards Course which comprises of 206 hours of Firefighter I coursework and 192 hours of Firefighter II coursework. Only those candidates who complete the Firefighter I training successfully can pursue Firefighter II training.

The training programs are divided into classroom lectures and practical hands-on training in real work scenarios under the supervision of experienced firefighters. The topics covered in the curriculum include blueprint and plans review, building construction, fire protection systems, fire codes, and standards, etc.

Florida State Firefighters’ Association offers inspector classes, individual classes, and Fire Officer I series training. These classes cover various interesting topics such as fire prevention and inspection, first responder, fire protective systems, hazardous materials, etc.

How to Become a Certified Firefighter in Florida?

Most of the fire agencies in Florida prefer to hire those candidates who hold certificates in EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) as well as firefighting. Below is the stepwise procedure to become a firefighter in Florida.

1. GED or High School Diploma

Candidates must obtain a General Education Diploma or a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in the firefighting training program.

2. EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) Certification

An EMT certification is also a mandatory requirement that candidates need to meet to work as a fireman in Florida. For obtaining an EMT certification, candidates must have good vision, clean criminal record, and strong physical stamina.

3. Complete Firefighting Training

Firefighters need to complete 398 hours of Firefighter Minimum Standards Course that is divided into two parts – Firefighter I and Firefighter II course.

4. Pass Firefighter Certification Exam

Aspirants who are seeking a career in firefighting must pass a written and practical exam. If you fail to pass the exam, you can retake it after 6 months. The test-taker must qualify three areas of study: state standards, training, and firefighter safety.

5. Work as Volunteer Firefighter and Apply for Jobs

Once you obtain the firefighter certification, start working as a volunteer firefighter. It will help you grow your professional network and enter the firefighting field. Prepare your resume and apply for jobs.

Top Florida Fire Academies and Schools

Below is the list of top firefighting schools in Florida that will help you arrive at the right decision.

  1. Broward College

    Broward College offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in various disciplines including Associate in Science, Associate in Arts, Technical Certificates, and Applied Technical Diplomas. Those who want to pursue a course in fire science can enroll in Fire Science Management Certificate or Fire Science Technology Associate of Science Program that is designed to impart technical competencies to students and help them in career advancement.
    Address: 111 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The Fire Science courses offered by the college prepare students for assuming the roles of Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator, and Fire Officer. The certificate program comprises 15 credits (5 classes).

  2. Chipola College

    Being one of the leading firefighting academies in Florida, Chipola College offers AS Degree Fire Science Program as well as specialized training for Fire Inspectors and Officers. The college has been recognized as a Training Center of the Year by the Florida Fire Training Directors Association and the Florida State Fire College.
    Address: 3094 Indian Circle, Marianna, Florida 32446
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: For advanced firefighters, Chipola College provides special hands-on training. The degree program prepares students for employment as a Firefighter.

  3. College of Central Florida

    College of Central Florida aims to promote the cultural, social and economic development of the community by providing quality higher education. Students can pursue diplomas, certificates, associate, or bachelor degrees in the field of their interest. For firefighter aspirants, students can consider pursuing public safety administration specialization in fire services.
    Address: 3001 South West College Road, Ocala, Florida 34474-4415
    Course Offered: Certificate Programs, Associate and Bachelor Degrees
    Key Highlights: The coursework is designed to prepare students for managerial/administrative positions in fire services.

  4. Daytona State College

    Established in 1957, Daytona State College aims to achieve academic excellence and enhance student growth. The college offers over 100 bachelors, associate and certificate programs in emergency services, healthcare, technology, engineering, education, etc. The Fire Science department of the Daytona State College offers basic firefighting training to advanced degree programs in Fire Science.
    Address: 1200 West International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
    Course Offered: Associate and Bachelor Degrees
    Key Highlights: The college is accredited by the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission). After completing the course in Fire Science, students gain knowledge to safely perform rescue/fire duties during non-emergency and emergency situations.

  5. Florida State College at Jacksonville

    Recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission, Florida State College at Jacksonville provides more than 150 technical certificates, associate and bachelor degree programs. Besides campus programs, the college also offers accelerated learning programs, online courses, evening and hybrid classes. For firefighter aspirants, the college provides the A.S (Associate in Science) in Fire Science Technology and certifications in Fire Office Supervisor and Firefighter I/II.
    Address: South Campus, 2700 Firefighter Memorial Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32246
    Course Offered: Certificate Programs and Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The Fire Science programs prepare students for advanced and entry-level fire protection jobs and fire services. The comprehensive curriculum sets you on the path of achievement and success.

  6. Gulf Coast State College

    Gulf Coast State College was established in 1957 and is committed to providing the excellent education to students. The small class sizes let professors pay personal attention to each student. Besides associate’s degree, the college offers bachelor’s degree and career training certificates in public safety, business and industry, healthcare, education, and other streams. The Fire Science Technology A.S. program prepares students for an advanced career in firefighting.
    Address: 5230 West Highway 98, Panama City, Florida 32401
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: After completing an associate degree in Fire Science from this college, you can pursue the Fire Inspector Certification or Fire Officer Certification. The college also offers Continuing Education.

  7. Hillsborough Community College – Brandon Campus

    Students who want to make a career in firefighting can take up an AS (Associate in Science) Degree in Fire Science Technology which is of 60 credits. After completing associate’s degree, students can complete an online degree in Fire and Emergency Services from the University of Florida.
    Address: Ybor City Campus Training Center, 5610 East Columbus Drive, Tampa, Florida 33619
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: The Fire Academy of the college offers both full-time and part-time programs. Classes are conducted in the Fire and Police Training Center at the Hillsborough Community College.

  8. Indian River State College

    IRSC (Indian River State College) provides more than 100 programs including Applied Technology Diploma, Technical Certificates, Associate Degrees, and Bachelor Degrees. The college combines affordability and quality to provide equal opportunity of education to students. If you are a firefighter and want to enhance your skills or want to prepare for a career in firefighting, you can consider pursuing a certification or degree in Fire Science.
    Address: 3209 Virginia Avenue, Fort Pierce, Florida 34981
    Course Offered: Technical Certificates, Associate and Bachelor Degrees
    Key Highlights: Full-time and part-time students can opt for AS Degree in Fire Science Technology or Basic Recruit Training in Firefighting.

  9. Keiser University – Sarasota

    Keiser University provides more than 100 programs in accounting, criminal justice, healthcare, nursing, general studies, fire science, etc. The small class sizes offer an ideal learning environment for students. For firefighting aspirants, the university offers an Associate in Science degree in Fire Science that instills an understanding of extinguishment methods, fire suppression, and crisis management.
    Address: 6151 Lake Osprey Drive, Sarasota, Florida 34240
    Course Offered: Associate Degree
    Key Highlights: Students must achieve 60 credit hours to obtain an AS degree in Fire Science from this college. The coursework prepares students for management positions in the firefighting field.

  10. Valencia College

    Valencia College establishes the Fire Rescue Institute in collaboration with Central Florida to fulfill the requirements of the fire service community. It offers a 2-year Fire Science Academy Track program that includes three components – AS Degree in Fire Science Technology, EMT Certification, and Firefighter I and Firefighter II – minimum standards training.
    Address: P.O. Box 3028, Orlando, Florida 32802
    Course Offered: Associate Degree, Certifications
    Key Highlights: Graduate in Fire Science from Valencia College can transfer into the bachelor degree offered at the University of Central Florida. After completion of the program, students can work as a fire instructor, fire investigator, fire inspector, fire officer or firefighter.

Other Firefighting Schools in Florida

  1. Thomas University
    Address: 16401 North West 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, Florida 33054
  1. Miami Dade College
    Address: 11380 NW 27th Ave. Miami, Florida 33167-3495
  1. Petersburg College
    Address: P.O. Box 13489, St. Petersburg, Florida 33733-3489
  1. Santa Fe College
    Address: 3000 North West 83rd Street, Gainesville, Florida 32606
  1. Northwest Florida State College
    Address: 100 East College Boulevard, Niceville, Florida 32578
  1. Pensacola State College
    Address: 1000 College Boulevard, Pensacola, Florida 32504
  1. Central Florida Fire Institute
    Address: 2966 West Oak Ridge Road, Orlando, Florida 32809
  1. Coral Springs Fire Academy
    Address: 2801 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, Florida 33065
  1. Ridge Technical Center
    Address: 7700 State Road 544, Winter Haven, Florida 33881
  1. Rescue Training, Inc.
    Address: 7022 TPC Drive, Suite 200, Orlando, Florida 32822
  1. Palm Beach State College
    Address: 4200 Congress Avenue, Lake Worth, Florida 33461
  1. Fire Coast Technical Institute
    Address: 2980 Collins Road, St. Augustine, Florida 32084
  1. Fire eTraining Institute
    Address: 10491 Ben C Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Suite 281, Fort Myers, Florida 33966