Fire Science Degree Programs in Alabama | Firefighter Training

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Now may be the ideal time to become a firefighter in Alabama, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% growth in employment opportunities from 2018-2028, resulting in well over 17,000 new positions.

The BLS attributes this growth -- which mirrors the overall job growth rate for all occupations in the U.S. -- to a continued demand for firefighters who can respond to fires in homes and wildlands. Job opportunities are also plentiful because firefighters attend to medical emergencies resulting from fires.

This page offers an in-depth look at how to become a firefighter in Alabama. Below, you can explore information on educational programs, salaries, job growth statistics, and firefighter requirements in Alabama. You can also learn about some useful resources for aspiring and working firefighters in the state.

Firefighter Requirements in Alabama

Firefighter requirements in Alabama vary according to local jurisdictions, as opposed to some other occupations where each state sets educational and experience expectations. At minimum, aspiring firefighters typically need to be 18 years old, possess a valid driver's license, pass a background check, and complete a physical fitness exam. Firefighters also need certification at the state level within one year of becoming a firefighter in Alabama.

To become a firefighter in Opelika, applicants must also pass a medical exam, pass a drug test, and earn a passing score on the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT), a standard physical fitness exam for firefighters in the U.S. Additionally, prospective firefighters must complete 500 hours of certification training across topics including building construction, personal protective equipment, sprinkler and alarm systems, and fire department communication.

In Cullman, firefighters need a high school diploma or its equivalent. They must also complete a written exam with a score of at least 70%. To stay employed, they must submit to random drug and alcohol testing along with an annual physical exam and agility test. Within one year of employment, they must earn emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and hazardous materials technician certification.

Becoming a Firefighter in Alabama: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for Alabama?

    As noted above, each city and town maintains different requirements. In terms of training, you need to complete at least 360 hours of training for Alabama firefighter certification. Some fire departments may require additional training hours.

  • Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?

    Across the country, fire departments typically require employees to become certified as EMTs and/or paramedics. Firefighters in Alabama need to earn an EMT, emergency care provider, or other medical certification as a prerequisite before starting firefighter training.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in Alabama?

    For firefighter level I and II certification, firefighters need to pass exams administered by the Alabama Firefighters' Personnel Standards and Education Commission. They must pass both cognitive and skills exams with at least a 70% score.

  • What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?

    Firefighters in Alabama -- and across the country -- must maintain excellent physical fitness. They need to complete the Candidate Physical Ability Exam, which includes eight events and requires candidates to wear a 50-lb. weighted vest.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in Alabama?

    All fire protection personnel employed by a public firefighting agency in Alabama must meet the same minimum standards. Through the Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program, the Alabama Forestry Commission trains volunteer fire departments to fight wildland fires.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in Alabama?

    The time it takes to become a firefighter in Alabama varies in each municipality. Firefighters may work while they complete the requirements for level I and II certification, but they must become certified within one year.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in Alabama

In order to effectively respond to medical and fire-related emergencies, firefighters need extensive training. There are many firefighters schools in Alabama where trainees can learn the ropes. Firefighters also need emergency medical training.

According to Alabama state regulations, firefighters need to undergo training from an instructor certified by the Alabama Firefighters' Personnel Standards and Education Commission. Candidates may complete their training through the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa or through an approved regional training center.

Some fire departments may require additional training, so look up local laws before enrolling in a program. Read on to learn about some options for schools and firefighter courses in Alabama.

Alabama Fire College

Program Name Firefighter I/II Certification
Program Description This state-approved firefighter training program runs for 360 clock hours. The program includes field practice, classroom study, and training exercises that prepare students to work under the supervision of an officer. Students learn about a variety of topics including how to create incident reports, extinguish an ignitable liquid fire, and force entry into a building.

Calhoun Community College

Program Name Emergency Medical Technician
Program Description Calhoun's emergency medical technician certificate takes one semester to complete, and students may choose daytime or evening classes. The program requires 10 total credits and prepares students to work as first responders. Candidates learn to stabilize ill and injured patients by administering oxygen, bandaging wounds, and controlling bleeding.

Bevill State Community College

Program Name Emergency Medical Technician
Program Description This program provides the training future firefighters need to take the Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic (EMT-P) exam. It lasts four semesters and helps firefighters satisfy the prerequisites for level-I and level-II certification. While firefighters in Alabama do not generally need a paramedic license, they do need emergency medical services training.

Fire Science Colleges in Alabama

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School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Alabama

According to the BLS, approximately 5,680 firefighters were working in Alabama as of May 2018. The BLS projects that firefighters in the state will see a 4.9% increase in job openings from 2016-2026. Nationwide, the firefighting occupation is projected to grow by around 5%.

The top-paying statesfor firefighters are California, New Jersey, and Washington, where firefighters earn mean annual salaries of $81,580, $76,530, and $73,850, respectively. Alabama's firefighters take home a mean yearly income of $41,740. The top 10% of firefighters in the state earn at least $62,000 per year, while the bottom 10% of earners make $24,000 or less. For reference, the annual median income for firefighters in the U.S. is $49,620.

Firefighter salaries in Alabama vary depending on factors like geographic location and professional experience.

National Average Salaries for Firefighters

Source: PayScale

Firefighter Resources in Alabama

Alabama's firefighters enjoy many resources and can enlist in organizations to help them succeed in their careers. Professional associations and unions enable firefighters to meet one another and discuss the challenges they face.

Through lobbying and fundraising, firefighters' unions advance legislation that benefits the emergency response community. Unions also provide resources and services that may offer immense value to firefighters in Alabama. For example, the International Association of Fire Fighters boasts a job center, a legal department, and an online learning center.

Additionally, government and other resources, such as the ones listed below, can help aspiring firefighters learn about regulations and statewide fire-related issues.

  • Alabama Fire College and Personnel Standards Commission The Alabama Fire College offers firefighter training along with programs in emergency medical services, hazardous materials, and rescue technician studies. The Personnel Standards and Education Commission certifies firefighters and offers information on regulations.
  • Alabama Forestry Commission Established in 1924, the AFC protects Alabama's forests and educates the public on responsible forest management. The commission also helps with the response to events like wildfires and other natural disasters. Firefighters can learn about current wildfires and wildfire prevention.
  • Alabama Firefighters Association With a motto of "Building a Better Fire Service," AFA offers benefits, training, and education to EMTs and firefighters. Members can take advantage of discounted tuition rates, discounted insurance, and an annual conference.
  • International Association of Fire Fighters The IAFF is a labor union representing over 318,000 full-time firefighters and paramedics across over 3,400 chapters. The organization advocates on behalf of firefighters and offers a variety of useful services such as training and news updates.
  • Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama This organization is the Alabama affiliate of the IAFF. Member benefits include information on legislation, access to an annual convention, and local meetings.