The average firefighter earns $53,240 per year. That’s slightly less than what the U.S. median household income is right now, at $57,652 per year (in 2017). Some people respond to this with outrage or disbelief—why would you risk your life for that kind of pay? Most people don’t realize how much responsibility is taken on by most firefighters when they put in their time for this career—and it can be dangerous too. Many people find out that these salaries are low only after taking the job into consideration.
How much does a firefighter make where you live?
The regions of America have varying numbers when it comes to firefighter salaries. The states that have the highest pay are Alaska, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Maryland. These states vary in population with 17.9 million people in California to 600 thousand people in Alaska where salaries differ accordingly.
The average firefighter salary in these states ranges from $69,128 per year for Alaska to $61,670 per year for New Jersey. This isn’t just because of the cost of living differences between the various locations but also due to the cost of housing living expenses that are higher in some cases than others too.
The state with the lowest-paid firefighters is Mississippi at an average of $26,330 per year, Arkansas at an average of $33,560 per year and Alabama at an average of 34,140 per year. The average firefighter salary in the United States is $53,240 per year.
Firefighter Salaries: Where they are the lowest
According to salary.com, here are 10 of the worst states for firefighter salaries right now:
- Alabama – $34,140
- Alaska – $69,128
- Mississippi – $26,330
- Arkansas – $33,560
- Connecticut – $61,670
- California – $61,670
- Missouri – $38,890
- Kentucky – $35,290
- New Jersey – $61,670
- West Virginia -$37,570
Salaries for firefighters can also change depending on where you work (for example if you work in a rural or an urban area). The average firefighter salary for various cities within different states can vary dramatically. For example, there is a big difference between the average firefighter salary in Los Angeles California compared to New York City. If you work in an urban area you will have much higher chances of earning more money. Don’t forget that working for the government also increases salaries.
Firefighter Salaries: Where they are the highest
Here are 10 cities where firefighters earn the most:
- Los Angeles – $72,700
- San Diego – $72,000
- New York City – $72,500
- Seattle – $70,080
- Las Vegas – $68,040
- Chicago – $64,340
- Honolulu Hawaii – $61,860
- Phoenix Arizona – $60,530
- Portland Oregon – $59,060
- Philadelphia Pennsylvania – $57,100
As you can see, these cities are large metropolitan areas that pay well in comparison to the rest of the country. Firefighters who work for the federal government also earn more than most. This is because they have another type of retirement plan that few other employees receive. Many people may say how can you call this a benefit? The answer is if they choose to work 10 additional years after they’ve reached the normal retirement age then their salary rises by 3%.
The majority of firefighting jobs require at least an associate degree in fire science or something similar. Having many certifications and licenses will help you get hired too—and increase your chances for higher salaries with certain companies. But remember; all firefighters must be certified before working on any job in America.
There are also many ways to increase your firefighter salary. One way is by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in fire science or another relevant major. You can also volunteer to take on more responsibilities at work, which will give you the chance to advance to higher positions where you will make more money.
Firefighter Salaries: The Benefits
So what else do firefighters get? Like most other jobs, there are benefits too—and they aren’t limited to firefighter salaries alone (which should be enough reason for anyone). Here are some of the additional benefits that firefighters receive:
- Paid leave: Paid vacation time, sick days and holidays all add up over the course of one year. Many people don’t realize how much time off a job can give a person.
- Retirement benefits: Many jobs in the United States don’t offer retirement plans when employees retire, but firefighters are given several options when they retire depending on their years of service and other factors. The amount of money that you could potentially receive when retired is $55.40 per day or $18,000 to $70,000 for life (depending on your highest salary). For more information visit the Department of Labor website.
- Health insurance: Health insurance is another benefit that many people who work outside in America don’t have access to since it’s so expensive. It covers things like doctor visits, prescriptions and hospitalization costs which can be very helpful if an employee has children too.
- Job security: Firefighters are almost always hired due to the fact that America needs them. So, even if a person takes time off he’s likely to get his job back when returning unless it’s for some type of serious criminal accusation (and not many people return after doing something like this). The process of becoming a firefighter is tedious and difficult but there are multiple benefits that one gets out of it afterwards.
A lot of jobs in America just offer paychecks without any benefits that an employee can gain from taking on more responsibilities or working long hours. Firefighting also provides you with good training which will help you succeed in other professions too—even if the job itself isn’t your final career goal.