How to Become a Firefighter in Iowa – Jobs and Career

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How to Become a Firefighter in Iowa

Firefighting is a dangerous profession. From climbing down in deep wells to save children to running into fire-engulfed buildings to rescue people, a fireman is required to do feats no feeble-hearted person would ever be able to. They are always alert, ready, and willing to help. Being a firefighter isn’t just about having the right physical attributes; it is also about your mindset and attitude.

People who go into this line of work are driven by the sense of selflessness and goodness. This willingness to save people by putting their own lives on the line is what makes a real firefighter. Given the demanding nature of this job, physical and emotional, it is understandable that fire departments across the nation would only want to hire select candidates. So, before you can become a firefighter, you will have to undergo a rigorous selection process, conducted separately by every fire department.

To help you along the way, we have created a road map to help you in becoming a firefighter in Iowa.

Firefighter Requirements in Iowa

To become a firefighter in Iowa, you must meet the below requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Hold a high school diploma or G.E.D.
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Good CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test)scores (The exact score may differ with the fire departments)
  • Some fire departments require a couple of other certifications like CPR, EMT, etc.
  • No criminal background

Firefighter Certification Training in Iowa

Being professionally trained before you apply for the job increases your chances of getting it. There are many schools in Iowa offering multiple fire science/firefighting courses. One can either go for an Associate’s degree in fire science, which takes two years to complete, or a certification program, which usually takes a year or less to get through. Based on your need and your willingness to study, you should choose between the two programs.

While the courses are slightly different, their structure is quite similar as both programs give equal significance to the classroom and physical training. Classroom lectures are essential for a firefighter despite there is only physical action in this profession. But, a firefighter needs to learn about fire prevention codes, basic biological and chemical traits of fire and everything related to it along with the prevention methods.

In physical training sessions, a student is put through a rough training program aiming to strip off any weakness that he/she may have. You are made to go through demo fires and taught the use of various firefighting tools. Your performance in classrooms and on training fields, together will determine your grade.

Firefighter Recruitment in Iowa

The recruitment process remains pretty much the same wherever you go in the country. However, the difficulty level varies depending on the severity of the hazards that are experienced by that area. Usually, an applicant in Iowa can fill out the vacancy form for the local fire department whenever they are available. Upon doing that, he/she will receive a date for a written exam which tests the candidates in basic mathematics, logical reasoning along with reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Once you make it through the firefighter written exam, you will have to go through the physical test, checking your stamina, agility, strength, eyesight, etc., followed by a medical checkup. If you clear this round, then you will roll on to the penultimate hurdle in your journey – the interview. The interview will be taken by experienced personnel of the local fire department to know if you have what it takes to become a firefighter or not. Also, you cannot fake your way out of it.

After passing the interview round, one last phase will be the background screening. In this phase, the fire department will take a good look at your past. Any volunteer work will help your chances in this case. It is always a good idea to work as a volunteer firefighter for a while before you apply for the paid position as it builds your credibility.

Firefighter Schools in Iowa

There are many firefighter academies in Iowa. Top of them are as follows:

NameTuition Fee & PopulationCoursesType
Western Iowa Tech Community College – Sioux CityNatives: $3,216

Non-Natives: $3,240

Students: 8,538

Certificate, Fire Science/Firefighting

Associate’s, Fire Science/Firefighting

Iowa Central Community College – Fort DodgeNatives: $4,290

Non-Natives: $6,435

Students: 7,669

Associate’s, Fire Science/FirefightingOnline/Campus
Ellsworth Community College – Iowa FallsNatives: $3,672

Non-Natives: $4,440

Students: 1,247

Associate’s, Fire Science/FirefightingOnline/Campus
Eastern Iowa Community College District – DavenportNatives: $4,384

Non-Natives: $6,528

Students: 13,591

Associate’s, Fire Science/FirefightingOnline/Campus
Kirkwood Community College – Cedar RapidsNatives: $4,060

Non-Natives: $4,900

Students: 21,889

Certificate, Fire Science/Firefighting

Associate’s, Fire Science/Firefighting

Southeastern Community College – West BurlingtonNatives: $4,590

Non-Natives: $4,740

Students: 4,040

Associate’s, Fire Science/FirefightingOnline/Campus
Northeast Iowa Community College – CalmarNatives: $4,200

Non-Natives: $4,200

Students: 7,153

Associate’s, Fire Science/FirefightingOnline/Campus

Firefighter Salary in Iowa

Iowa firefighters get paid an average annual salary of $42,450 and an average hourly wage of $20.41. Wages in this field fluctuate because of many different aspects as well, and one of the major ones among them is the experience. Notably, a firefighter’s expertise in the force has a profound effect on the salary. Given below are the wages paid to firefighters on different experience levels of their career.

LevelHourly WageAnnual Salary
Top Level$28.48$59,230

Source: Career Explorer

Firefighter Jobs in Iowa

There are some 1,800 firefighters employed in the state of Iowa, and based on the country-wide statistics, the job market is likely to grow at the sluggish pace of only 7.2% between 2016-2026. So, there aren’t nearly enough jobs to go around in this profession, and as a result, the competition is fierce. A fireman’s journey can progress even after getting a job.

Getting an Associate’s degree opens up doors to jobs like managerial posts in the fire departments. Also, a Master’s degree is enough to get you a job as a fire inspector or a fire detective, whose prime job it is to investigate fires and find out the real reason behind them. You can also apply for a Ph.D. in Fire Science in order to score a research job.

Those who cannot go to a campus class full-time will find their pain eased by the help of online courses which are conducted by pretty much every Firefighter training academy in Iowa.



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