How to Become a Firefighter in Illinois – Career and Jobs

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How to Become a Firefighter in Illinois

Many people dream of becoming a firefighter, but very few of them have what it takes to turn that dream into a reality. A firefighter is always on toes, ready to jump into action. Disasters can strike at any moment, and we depend on these brave men and women who are prepared to put their lives at stake to save ours. That is the reason why a firefighter must be courageous, selfless, alert, quick thinker and physically fit.

Given the dangerous and sensitive nature of this job, it is only logical that fire departments across the nation want to hire optimal candidates only. The nature of the hazards experienced in the area also has a profound effect on the selection process as well. As reported by the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 3.1 deaths and 13.4 injuries in 1,000 fires of Illinois, in 2016 alone.

These are harrowing figures when you put them against the national average of 2.4 deaths and 9.3 injuries. So, the selection process in states like Illinois is slightly tougher than others. But if you are looking to become a firefighter in Illinois, then worry not because we have prepared a roadmap for you.

Firefighter Requirements in Illinois

To become a firefighter in Illinois, you must meet the below-mentioned requirements:

  • Minimum age at the time of application is 20 years, and 21 years at the time of appointment
  • Candidates older than 34 years may not be considered, given the demanding nature of the job
  • A high school diploma or G.E.D.
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Physical fitness is a must including 20/20 eyesight and an impressive CPET (Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing) score
  • S. citizenship at the time of application
  • In Illinois, it is mandatory to have an EMT-P (Emergency Medical Training – Paramedics) certification before applying for a firefighting job. Also, the number of required certifications might increase, based on the fire department.

Firefighter Training in Illinois

While it is by no means essential for a candidate to receive formal training to become a firefighter, the ones who do, however, hold a competitive advantage over others in their career. There are many institutions throughout the state of Illinois that offer various fire science courses. These courses are designed to give equal weight to both classroom and physical training.

The classroom lectures offer knowledge about various fire safety regulations and codes, basic fire chemistry and biology, how to handle hazardous material, safety tactics, etc. On the other hand, physical training sessions include demo fire drills to give trainees a close encounter with the real deal and teach them how to behave in the event of an actual fire. Students are also taught how to use various firefighting tools like ladders, axes, and hoses.

The schools in Illinois offer several courses in firefighting. An Associate’s degree is usually two years long and gives its students a prolonged exposure to the study material and training, thus turning them into proper professionals. Whereas, a certificate course, what you might call a crash course, gives students the basic knowledge of fire science field.

There are many other job opportunities as well for people opting for fire science as a career other than becoming a firefighter. People can opt for managerial jobs or can become fire inspectors and investigators. A Master’s degree in fire science is also likely to help you climb up the job ladder. If research and being surrounded by books is what you crave, then you can also undertake a Ph.D. in fire science.

Top firefighting schools in Illinois

If you want to receive formal training and get a fire science degree before you apply for a job, then below the top firefighter training academies in Illinois you can choose from:

NameTuition Fee and PopulationCourseType
Harold Washington College – ChicagoNatives: $6,060

Non-Natives: $7,491

Population: 13,699

Associate’s in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus
College of DuPage – Glen EllynNatives: $9,930

Non-Natives: $12,030

Population: 47,219

Certificate in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus
College of Lake County – GrayslakeNatives: $7,154

Non-Natives: $9,646

Population: 28,102

Associate’s in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus
Danville Area Community College – DanvilleNatives: $5,700

Non-Natives: $5,700

Population: 9,171

Certificate in Fire Science

Associate’s in Fire Science

Online/Campus
Elgin Community College – ElginNatives: $9,144

Non-Natives: $11,952

Population: 17,037

Certificate in Fire Science

Associate’s in Fire Science

Online/Campus
Frontier Community College – FairfieldNatives: $8,589

Non-Natives: $10,580

Population: 7,860

Certificate in Fire Science

Associate’s in Fire Science

Online/Campus
Illinois Central College – East PeoriaNatives: $8,100

Non-Natives: $9,300

Population: 16,085

Associate’s in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus
John A Logan College – CartervilleNatives: $8,077

Non-Natives: $9,630

Population: 17,063

Certificate in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus
John Wood Community College – QuincyNatives: $7,170

Non-Natives: $7,170

Population: 3,054

Associate’s in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus
Joliet Junior College – JolietNatives: $8,439

Non-Natives: $9,076

Population: 25,969

Certificate in Fire Science

Associate’s in Fire Science

Online/Campus
Lake Land College – MattoonNatives: $6,598

Non-Natives: $12,400

Population: 24,961

Associate’s in Fire ScienceOnline/Campus

Firefighter Salary in Illinois

Illinois firefighters get paid an average salary of $54,270 and an hourly wage of $26.09. However, there are various other factors too that influence a fireman’s income.

LevelHourly WageAnnual Salary
Beginners$9.24$19,210
Juniors$14.50$30,160
Experienced$26.09$54,270
Seniors$38.61$80,300
Top-level$46.42$96,550

Source: Career Explorer

Firefighter Jobs in Illinois

Illinois is the fifth largest employer of firefighters in the nation. According to Illinois Fire Service Institute, there around 1,081 fire stations across the state of Illinois, employing 17,000 firefighters and over 300 fire inspectors. At first, one might think that there are enough jobs to go around, but when you analyze, fire protection is a very competitive job market.

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