The profession of a firefighter is always in demand among the folks looking for an exciting and adventurous career. When it comes to New Jersey, their firefighters are the highest paid in the nation. Though the entry-level job pays the least, the pay package and benefits increase gradually as one goes higher in the career. If you are in New Jersey and wish to become a firefighter, this article will give you a gist about all the fireman requirements and information you probably might need for the job.
Firefighter Career in New Jersey
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters in New Jersey are the highest paid compared to other states in the United States. Within firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators are larger in concentration with high paying jobs in New Jersey. The job prospects for the firefighters are likely to grow by 7% from 2016 to 2026, which means that the firefighters have a bright career prospect in the future. There will be a 1.38% increase in employment per thousand jobs by the year 2026.
Education Requirements for NJ Firefighters
Talking about the basic education requirements, a firefighter must possess a high school diploma or equivalent and a valid driver’s license of New Jersey. The minimum age of the applicants applying for the firefighter jobs should be 18 years. Further, the applicants must pass a series of physical and written examinations, qualify in the interview, and go through training at a firefighter academy. Generally, entry-level firefighters receive few months of training before they are hired.
For higher-paid positions in the fire department, you can even earn a two or four-year degree program in Fire Science, Fire Engineering or Fire Management offered by various colleges, universities and trade schools in New Jersey. Although getting a degree is not a condition for employment, but it improves your chances of securing a high-paying job. You must also study various topics regarding firefighting, New Jersey building codes and emergency medical procedures.
How Long does it Take to Become a Firefighter in New Jersey?
To become a firefighter in New Jersey, it takes about anywhere between 3 months to 7 years depending upon your professional goals, qualifications, and municipality requirements. If you wish to become a professional, well-paid firefighter, you can earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science once you graduate with a high school diploma or equivalent. If you choose to get an associate degree, it will take 2 years of time. But if you wish to pursue a higher wage or position, you can earn a bachelor’s degree which takes four years.
Furthermore, many departments require the applicants to be EMT certified. Being an EMT certified gives you a hand on experience to provide medical treatment during emergencies. A basic EMT course in NJ takes about 120 hours of education and training. Many students pursue their EMT certification course alongside their fire science degree. If you wish to earn an EMT Paramedic certification, it takes another 2 years to complete.
Moreover, the hiring and application procedure takes time too. Most of the fire departments hire every year or two. Research on the department hiring process you are interested in and plan accordingly to minimize the delay. It usually takes a minimum of 6 weeks to go through all the application and hiring process before you finally get admitted to a fire academy.
Once you are hired, it takes further 6 months of additional post-hiring fire academy training depending on the respective municipal regulations. One also has to go through a probation process for a period of 6-12 months to finally become a full-fledged paid firefighter.
Volunteer Firefighters in NJ
Applicants must be 18 years of age with a high school diploma or equivalent to volunteer as a firefighter in New Jersey. Depending on the industry, certain firefighters in New Jersey must volunteer for around 6 months before they are hired on a full-time basis. Applicants must clear the physical and written exams, drug screening and background checks. Once recruited, they must also undergo a training course of at least 110 hours certified by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Volunteering is one of the best options to gain the necessary training and hands-on experience before entering the department as a full-fledged firefighter. When talking about New Jersey, one can find vast opportunities to volunteer as a firefighter in different fire departments. Contact your local fire service agency and show them your interest to volunteer as a firefighter.
How Much do Firefighters Make in NJ?
The wages of a particular state or country varies with several factors. It depends on the company or industry one is employed in, the location, the type of employer, the job position, educational qualifications, and the experience gained. According to the BLS as of May 2017, an average firefighter pay in New Jersey was $75,880 compared to $73,860 for California and $70,560 for New York, which is the second and third highest paying state in the U.S. The mean hourly wage for New Jersey firefighters was $36.48.
According to Indeed.com, an average mean wage of a firefighter is $52,588 per year which is 22% above the national average. As per the data recorded by Salary.com, the average firefighter salary in New Jersey is $51,796 as of October 31, 2018, but the range typically falls in between $38,848 and $64,745. Also as per sokanu.com, the average yearly salary of a firefighter was $81,730 at an average wage of $39.29 per hour.
Top New Jersey Fire Academies and Schools
New Jersey has one of the highest number of fire academies and schools compared to the other states of the United States.
These fire academies and schools are divided among different parts of New Jersey. Take a look at the top five New Jersey Fire Academies and School mentioned below:
1. New Jersey City University
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
The New Jersey City University ranks among the top 20 Fire Schools in the U.S.A. and the top fire school in New Jersey. It offers a bachelor’s degree program in Fire Science and Firefighting with a tuition fee of $19,000 a year.
2. County College of Morris
Location: Randolph, New Jersey
County College of Morris Fire Program is the second best fire school in New Jersey. The college offers numerous courses along with an associate degree in Fire Protection and Safety Technology. The tuition price is approximately $13,000 a year.
3. Passaic County Community College
Location: Paterson, New Jersey
The college is ranked as the third highest NJ Fire School and is known for good campus security. Founded in 1971, the school offers various certificates and an associate degree in Fire Protection and Safety Technology at a fee structure of $9,000 per year.
4. Middlesex County College
Location: Edison, New Jersey
Founded in 1964, Middlesex County College ranks among the top five fire schools in New Jersey. The college offers various certificates and an associate degree in fire major. Depending on the program, the tuition fees is around $8,000 per year.
5. Mercer County Community College
Location: West Windsor, New Jersey
The college offers various courses and is known best for its associate degree in Fire Protection and Safety Technology. The tuition fee is about $8,000 a year and varies with the program.
Firefighter Training Program
The Firefighter programs at NJ aim to provide the candidate with a theoretical and practical understanding of the techniques, protocols, and use of fire equipment that is used by firefighters in their day to day operations. Basic duration of a firefighter training is 12-18 weeks, which comprises of training in prevention of fire, how to suppress the fire and its techniques, how to handle hazardous material and its control, the procedure of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and various protocols that have to be followed while on duty.
A firefighter also gets practical exposure on how to handle various emergencies through hands-on training and simulations. Through this simulation and hands-on training, candidates learn the usage of various fighting tools, devices, and equipment such as hoses, axe, ladder, fire engines, and other firefighting equipment. Moreover, candidates are also given training on how to investigate an incident, the right use of personal protective equipment and its utilities along with other operational activities.
Certified Firefighters in New Jersey
To become a certified firefighter in NJ, one needs to take several factors into account. Keeping in mind the minimum educational and physical requirements, one must pass written and practical examinations. One must have the initial certifications in first aid medical rescue and knowledge regarding fire management, fire science, and building codes. Applicants must also fill out the Firefighter Medical Clearance and Disclaimer of Liability form to prove that they have no medical issues and are fit to perform physically challenging tasks as the job demands.
Firefighter Jobs in NJ
Below mentioned is the list of various job options one can find in Texas, New Jersey:
- Fire Marshal
- Deputy Fire Marshal
- Fire Chief
- Assistant Fire Chief
- Firefighter Captain
- Fire and Rescue Officer
- Firefighter EMT-B/EMT-I/Paramedic
- Firefighter Cadet
- Volunteer Firefighter
- Investigator or Inspector
- Probationary Firefighter
- Entry-level Firefighter
- Firefighter Driver
- Firefighter Lieutenant
- Fire Extinguish Technician