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Human Services Degrees

How to Become A Fire Chief

A fire chief is a commanding officer and is responsible for overseeing the operations of a fire department on a daily basis. He is the face of regional, city or state fire agencies and is expected to take the right decisions in high-pressure situations. Although most candidates are elected for this role, through campaigning and elections, a few of them are appointed directly. 

Should I Become a Fire Chief?

Fire chiefs perform the duties of a fire fighter with focus on administration. These professionals assign and schedule duties to fire fighters and train them in different techniques. Fire chiefs also evaluate the performance and progress of their team. They are also responsible for monitoring the condition of the fire department and all the equipment. They manage the budget of the fire department and make sure that the whole team is following the policies and procedures by keeping a record of all their firefighting responses.

Education Required

Postsecondary degree (Firefighters)

Major Requirement






Key Skills

Communication Skills, Compassion, Physical Stamina, Courage, Decision making Skills

Annual Mean Salary (2019)

$54,650 (Firefighters)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

5% (All related occupations)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Fire Chiefs

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary of a firefighter was $54,650 in 2019. Since fire chief is a top-level position, they get paid significantly higher. The number of jobs for firefighters is expected to increase 5% from 2018 to 2028. With urban development, building codes and materials have improved which has lessened the chances of fire fatalities. Since fire spreads speedily, fire fighters will continue to be needed in future for immediate action.

Steps to Become a Fire Chief

Step 1: Become a Fire Chief

The first step to become a fire chief is to become a firefighter. Candidates are required to have a high school diploma and clear a physical and a written exam. Having an undergraduate degree is not mandatory; however, candidates who have it are usually preferred by employers.

Step 2: Earn Promotion

Fire departments function using the chain of command structure. Candidates join the fire department as fire fighters and after proving themselves, they get promoted to an officer position. Since it’s a hierarchical structure, fire fighters have to break multiple layers to become a fire chief. They have to work hard and earn their way up.

Step 3: Continue Training

The likelihood of a promotion increases when a firefighter gets a formal undergraduate or associate’s degree in fire service management or fire science. These programs also include training sessions. Continuing education options are offered by the US National Fire Academy. It also offers training courses for professionals who want to advance their career to the position of a fire chief.

Firefighters who wish to become fire chiefs have to complete the required training, education and work experience.  The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) also holds various seminars and provides certificates through the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC). It offers certification for Chief Fire Officer, Chief Training Officer, Fire Marshal, etc.

How Long is the Training at the San Antonio Fire Academy?

Before you can begin training at the fire academy in San Antonio, you will have to come through a tough hiring process. If you get through all the stages, you will be asked to join the San Antonio Fire Academy Training program. The training program is designed, scheduled, and overseen by a team of four civilians and thirteen officers. The Fire Cadet Training Program at the academy will take 25 weeks to complete and it is physically and academically challenging.

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