View Full Version : Too late to become a Firefighter/EMT?
I am thinking about changing careers. I live in the Detroit area and I'm 29 years old. Am I too old to start training to become a firefighter? Im still in great shape, I dont smoke, etc. I Think I'd also be interested in EMT training. Can anyone tell me anything about the length/cost of training, classes, pay scales etc?
Bigger cities send you to their own training and sometimes isn't required to be certified before being hired. As far as costs, get on a volunteer department and let them pay for it for you and you also gain experience that way. Chances are you'd be in the same classes as new recruits on a volunteer dept, so take advantage of it. As far as your age, I don't think you're too old since most depts have a 25 and out or 25/55 retirement. If you got hired at 30-31, that would make you 55-56 and ready for retirement.
The pay scale will vary widely. I'd say the averages in depts would be starting around upper 20's and topping out around 50'ish.
A downside is that with all the gov't funding being cut, most cities aren't replacing retirees like they used to. The numbers of new hires is down in most places I'd have to believe.
I would say your age is not an issue.
But your lack of Experience in EMS and FF skills is a factor. Most aplicants are in volunter programs at an early age ( 18-21) and thus they have a lot experience by the time they are 29. I am talking about EMS experience and FF training. You would be competing against younger guys that have a lot more exp than you. I am basing this on my exp trying to get hired in LA or OC in CA. There is such a huge turnout for so few positions. 20,000 applicants for LA when i tested and i think they had less than 20 openings. I didnt think about trying until i was 26. I went to school in CA and got into the Fire Acad by completing the requirements, paying for it my self. Most of the others in my Acad class were EMTs already and some had jobs as volunteers. They had a lot more exp than i did but most were younger and i had a military back gound which i think is a bonus. Anyway i graduated 9 months later and got my EMT and FFI certs. it helps a lot, shows your not just thinking about it, your doing what you can to get your foot in the door. Medic school would be nice resume builder too, but its very expensive.
Things may be very different if your looking to get hired in a smaller dept or in another state.
I will say if your serious about it you must have EMS exp so work for an ambulance service while your testing. Also get some FF training if you can, it cant hurt at all. i wish you the best of luck and go for it if its what you really want.
The department I work for has 475 paid, sworn firefighters.
I had worked in the autoparts business for 20 years and a 40, I had a midlife crisis. I ha tow choices:
1 - get a divorce, a 20 year old girl friend and a new Harley Davidson
2 - Become a fireman and drive a fire truck.
I chose #2. I was hired after I was 40 years old. i had no fire experience.
That was 16 years ago.
My advice - GO FOR IT.
I got started with my combination paid/volunteer department a year and a half ago as a totally green volunteer. I was 33 at the time.
Right now, I am working through the FFI/II classes at night and I continuously pick up practical knowledge/skills from running calls. I have a career not related to firefighting, but one day decided I wanted to be a FF when I'm not at my paying job. I love it and have no regrets.
So my thought is you're not too old to get started, and that a volunteer or combo department is a great place to begin. Go for it.
Plain & simple terms - if you want them then the jobs ARE out there. Your age is not an issue. The only time/place it would be is for Federal/Govt. jobs which have a 35 y.o. age cap.
If you are interested in the EMS/Medical side then go ahead and take the EMT-Basic class - if you find that you like the medical part - then:
1) Get a job with an agency that will put you through Paramedic School
- OR -
2) Go to paramedic school on your own.
It's an prooven fact that the number of EMS calls are on the rise & fire calls are leveling out or declining (on national average). Because of this the great majority of Fire Dept's that do EMS are looking to hire FF/Paramedics because they then get the most for their money. FF/EMT is generally considered a good starting point, but if you want to be truly competitive then get your Paramedic, but ONLY if you like the work. DO NOT under any circumstance get into the EMS field just to get a FF job - you'll end up unhappy in the long run.
Also - for more good tips for the actual testing & interview process - check out Capt. Bob Smith at www.eatstress.com
Best of luck to you.
FWIW - I'm 32 now and still looking to change careers in the near future (when I can finally afford the pay cut ;g ) so don't let your age hold you back.
I got into EMS at the age of 30. I work with one paramedic that got into the field when he was 50, and my shift supervisor got started when she was 40.
Obviously your age wouldn't be an issue at my department!
If you think this is what you want to do, give it a shot!
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