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How to Become A Firefighter in Illinois

Firefighters nowadays are not only involved in fighting and extinguishing fires. Most of these professionals are cross-trained as EMTs and Paramedics and are responsible for offering pre-hospital and medical services as well. If you find this job exciting, then make sure you read this article on how to become a Firefighter in Illinois.

Should I Become a Firefighter in Illinois?

Are you thick-skinned, compassionate, and sharp? If yes, then a career as a Firefighter would suit you. Take a look at the table below to understand the education, certification, and skill-set requirements for Firefighters. This data has been extracted from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education Required

High school education is mandatory.


Fire Academy Training


Varies by state

Key Skills/Qualities

Decision-Making Skills, Courage, and Physical Stamina.

Annual Mean Salary (2019) - National


Job Outlook (2018-28)


Annual Mean Salary (2019) - Illinois



Career Outlook

The job opportunities for Firefighters are expected to be ample in the future. The employment opportunities in this profession will grow by 5% from 2018 to 2028.

Steps to Become a Firefighter in Illinois

Keep reading the article to learn how to become a Firefighter in Illinois. This section will focus on the stages involved in joining this heroic profession.

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma

Many individuals believe that a Fire Science degree is required to join the fire department. This is not completely accurate. While some fire departments might give preference to individuals who have a college degree, most of them expect candidates to be high school graduates.

Step 2: Enroll in EMT Classes

Enrolling in an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class would be beneficial to your future career. Therefore you should check your local community colleges and schools and see whether they are offering any EMT programs. These programs can help you prepare for the EMT certification exams.

Step 3: Get the CPAT Certification

Several fire departments in Illinois require candidates to have a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) certification well before the fire department starts its hiring process. You can get yourself certified through a third party institution. To get certified, you will have to pass several physically challenging tasks and obstacles. 

Do keep in mind that the CPAT certification card has an expiration date, therefore you should make sure that you apply for the fire department before the card expires.

Step 4: Start the Application Process

Some departments usually update their eligibility lists after every two years. If you want to be considered for the role of a Firefighter, then you should apply at the respective fire department. If your application is shortlisted, you will be invited to take part in a competitive testing process, which usually includes an aptitude exam and an oral interview. Upon clearing these stages, you will be placed on the eligibility list.

Step 5: Wait for the Job Opening

If a job opening pops up, you will be asked to undergo additional testing. Eligible candidates are usually required to clear a physiological exam, drug screening, medical exam, and a comprehensive background investigation.

Step 6: Complete the Required Training

Once you have cleared the above sequence of steps, you will be required to complete several mandatory training classes. These classes will help you acquire several job-related skills.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in Illinois?

It takes a long time to become a Firefighter in Illinois. After completing high school, candidates are expected to pass through a rigorous testing process. Those who clear the written exam and the interview, then have to undergo additional screening. Those who are successful are then sent to the Fire Academy to further polish their job skills. It can take a couple of months to graduate from the Recruit Academy.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Firefighter in Illinois?

The Prairie State requires aspiring Firefighters to:

  • Complete high school.
  • Obtain a valid Illinois driver’s license.
  • Be physically fit.
  • Be citizens of the US
  • Pass a competitive testing process.

There are many fire departments in Illinois, such as Paid-on-call Departments, Volunteer Departments, and Full-time Departments. The age requirements and the hiring process for each department are different, therefore you should check the department’s websites to learn more about these requirements.

How Much Does a Firefighter Earn in Illinois?

BLS has reported that Firefighters in Illinois made an annual mean income of $58,170 in 2019.

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