Firefighters work to put out a fire

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Firefighter

There are advantages and disadvantages to every job you could choose, so it’s important that you know about them so you can weigh your options before making a decision. Firefighters are valued members of society, but there are also some downsides that you may want to think about before committing to a career as a firefighter.

Pro: Sense of Fulfillment in Your Career

Firefighting is a public service job. Firefighters not only protect community members from dangerous fires; they are also committed to educating the public about safety. If you want to do something in service to others, firefighting may give you a sense of fulfillment that you don’t necessarily find with other jobs.

Con: Unusual Shifts

Depending on the locality you’re working for, you usually have to work in shifts of 24-48 hours with a few days break in-between each shift. If you’re looking for a nice 9-5 job, then firefighting definitely isn’t for you.

Pro: You Get Paid to Sleep on the Job Sometimes

Depending on how your local firehouse sets up shifts, you may sometimes get paid to sleep on the job. Firehouses need firefighters to be available at a moment’s notice, so it typically means working overnight shifts sometimes. You may get a call in the middle of the night, but you may also just sleep all night.

Con: Constant Training and Chores

Part of a firefighter’s job requires maintaining physical fitness to be able to enter burning buildings and sometimes carry people out of them. This means working hard physically while you’re at work. Firefighters also have to do chores while they’re at the firehouse, so it’s not like you get to sit around and watch TV all day while you’re at work.

Pro: Public Approval of Your Job

Firefighting isn’t the kind of profession where other people have ethical concerns and questions about what you do. You can find comfort in knowing that nobody is going to disapprove of the work that you do.

Con: Dangerous Job Duties

A pretty obvious downside to firefighting is that you put yourself in potentially harmful situations by entering burning buildings and trying to evacuate other people before you evacuate yourself. This disadvantage can affect both you and your family members.

Pro: Good Benefits and Job Security

Because it’s a government job, firefighters get good government benefits and job security. This ensures stability for you and your family members.

Con: Pay Isn’t Great

The national average salary for firefighters is around $47,600 per year. If you’re looking for a high-paying job, firefighting probably isn’t for you.

Pro: You Get to Save People’s Lives

One of the most rewarding aspects of a career as a firefighter is the fact that by putting out fires, you may be saving people’s lives. This is the kind of fulfillment from a job that you can only get by working with the public.

Con: Trauma and Death

Firefighters have to enter and remain calm in potentially traumatic situations, and they may sometimes see people die in fires or even after the victim has been rescued. Firefighters have to stay tough. If you don’t think you could handle people dying near you, you may not want to be a firefighter. 

Last Updated: April 15, 2015