How To Become A Firefighter In Iowa | FirefighterNOW (2022)

Iowa lies in the heart of the Midwest and is full of great firefighters and departments; leading many to ask how to become a firefighter in Iowa.

Those that are proud to live here want nothing better thanto work hard, serve their community well and provide for their families.Becoming a firefighter in Iowa is one of the most rewarding jobs you can get.

You get to protect the people, communities and places thatyou love through fire, rescue and emergency medical care. So, how can youbecome a firefighter in the state of Iowa and help your own community?

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How to Become aFirefighter in Iowa

  • 18 yearsold or older
  • Residentof the state with US citizenship
  • A validstate driver’s license
  • Highschool diploma or GED
  • EMTtraining recommended

Be aware that some age restrictions do apply when applyingfor a role with an Iowa fire department. Some smaller departments and volunteerdepartments may be fine hiring those straight out of high school if candidatesare able to train on the job and earn their certifications.

However, Des Moines is an example of a large city departmentthat won’t take anyone under the age of 21.

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Aside from this fact, there isn’t too much to worry aboutand most aspiring firefighters can work their way through the process withease. Below, I will talk more about what to expect, the differentresponsibilities in Iowa, the training courses and some of the departments.

Firefighting in Iowa

The age limit of 21 is a stumbling block but that shouldn’t put you off from training and learning about the hiring process. It also gives you more time to train for the written test and CPAT. The latter can be grueling for those that aren’t used to heavy lifting and endurance events.

Read up on the specifics for your chosen department and get training. Also, prepare yourself for the fact that you are sure to undergo a series of screening processes and firefighter interviews.

Essentially, the panels and hiring officers in any Iowa firedepartment will want to make sure that you are the ideal candidate for the job.They also have a lot of other candidates to compare you with. This means goingover your background, employment record and your criminal record for any redflags.

This can include incidents when you were a juvenile or any small-scaledrug offense too. Make sure to stay away from illegal substances and keep aclean driver’s license.

The challenges faced by firefighters in Iowa will depend ontheir location. Most of those that wish to take on career roles within the fireservice will do so in one of the major cities within the state. There are vastmetropolitan areas and cities with a large number of commuters, residents andtourists on a daily basis.

Add in all the flights and cars traveling to the airportsand on the highways and that’s a lot of potential accidents and medicalemergencies.

The cities are also home to all the best universities in the state, which means an influx of students during the school year. Urban firefighters need the right skills in fire suppression, urban rescue and EMT training.

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Then there are those that will stay out in the more ruralparts of the state. Iowa has a lot of smaller communities in agriculturalareas. The state has seen a boom in organic farming in recent years. But, thatdoesn’t mean that there aren’t dangerous materials and pieces of machineryhere.

Dry summers can also cause fires in these areas. Therefore, volunteer firefighters in these areas need to be able to handle these incidents, provide fast relief to remote areas and have knowledge in wildfire management.

Training is essential throughout your career no matter whereyou are in Iowa. These different communities and landscape will always bring upnew challenges that require new strategies.

A commitment to building knowledge and skills is essential if you are to be a strong team member here. The basics and some of the more specialist skills are all available in state-approved training courses.

Fire Academies inIowa

There are many universities and colleges in the state ofIowa that will allow students to train in fire sciences. This is a great placeto learn a little more about the world in your late teens before applying.

The list below covers some of the different fire academies and community colleges that have specialist departments in fire studies and training. There is also the opportunity to learn with a more vocational approach at the training bureau or via programs delivered at your local fire department.

Kaplan University, now known as Purdue, has a number ofcampuses across the Midwest that provide academic and vocational courses. Oneof these opportunities is their Fire Science Degree Program.

There are different options available depending on yourcareer plan and the time you have to dedicate to your studies. There is a fullbachelor’s degree in either fire science or fire and emergency management. Thisdegree gives the broadest approach with some detailed, technical modules inlater years relating to management and administration.

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The Associate degree is more focused on entry-level positions and takes less time to complete. Those that do so could transfer credits if they choose to later on. Everything that you need to know about studying fire subjects with Purdue in Iowa can be found here.

The Fire Service Training Bureau in Ames takes a differentapproach to teach candidates the ropes. This is where you can come to get amore vocational education and hands-on training towards all your requiredcertificates.

This is also a great place for firefighters to return to when they need to improve their skills and take on new roles. There are advanced courses for instructors and for specialist incidents, hazardous materials, arson investigation and more. You can learn more about the options and the facilities on-site by visiting this link.

Major FireDepartments in Iowa

The following is a list ofmajor fire departments in Iowa. While it isn’t comprehensive it’s a greatplace to start if you’re interested in learning more about how to become afirefighter in Iowa.

How to Become a DesMoines, IA Firefighter

  • 21 years old or older
  • Resident of the state with US citizenship
  • A valid state driver’s license
  • High school diploma or GED
  • EMT training recommended

Des Moines has 10 stations placed across the city to handlecalls as they come in. The majority of calls here are for fire suppression andmedical emergencies so it is vital that firefighters have the skills needed toprovide the very best care possible.

Of the 295 people employed by the department at the moment,192 are trained paramedics. All personnel are also trained to deal withhazardous materials and there is a technical rescue and water emergency team.

Aside from the age limit mentioned above, the hiring process and requirements in this city are pretty straight forward. You can learn more about the process here.

How to Become a CedarRapids, IA Firefighter

  • 18 yearsold or older
  • Residentof the state with US citizenship
  • A validstate driver’s license
  • Highschool diploma or GED
  • EMTtraining recommended

The city of Cedar Rapids has a lot of people to protectwithin its jurisdiction. There are around 128,000 residents here that couldrely on the fire service in medical incidents, fires, vehicular accidents andmore.

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This means that they need a strong, well-trained departmentthat can respond from all of the cities stations. There are special operationsdivisions in the city that are ready to handle hazardous material, urban searchand rescue and other dangerous calls.

Crew members also receive training on confined space rescue, high angle rope access and ice rescue. An interesting requirement here is that while you can earn your Firefighter 1 certificate as a recruit, you must have your EMT certificate before you join. You can find out more here.

Job Prospects forFirefighters in Iowa

The stats for Iowa in 2018 are about as average as you canget. There were 1,630 firefighters employed at a rate of 1.06 per 1000 jobs.

The annual mean wage forfirefighters in Iowa is $43,970.

This means lower rates and pay than Eastern neighbors likeWisconsin and Illinois, but it was pretty much on par with Nebraska.

The area of Des Moines- West Des Moines was the highestemployer by far for areas entirely in the state with 510 personnel. The splitregion of Omaha-Council Bluffs on the Nebraska border was a much higher payerat $48,940 per year.

If you’re interested in how to become a firefighter in Iowa,you may need to wait a little longer than usual due to the occasional agerestriction. However, this can be a blessing for some applicants.

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Those three years are a great time to grow as an adult,continue your education and ensure that you will pass the hiring process withflying colors. The better your preparation in this period, the better yourprospects in career roles in the best fire departments in Iowa.

The hard work pays off when you get to provide suchessential care and support to all those that need it the most. Stay motivatedand you will get there.


How To Become A Firefighter In Iowa | FirefighterNOW? ›

Firefighter Requirements in Iowa
  1. At least 18 years old.
  2. Hold a high school diploma or G.E.D.
  3. Have a valid driver's license.
  4. Good CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test)scores (The exact score may differ with the fire departments)
  5. Some fire departments require a couple of other certifications like CPR, EMT, etc.

How long does it take to become a firefighter in Iowa? ›

How Long Will It Take to Become a Firefighter in Iowa? After you have cleared all the initial evaluations such as the written test and the CPAT, you will be eligible for firefighter training with your local fire department. This will take about 28 to 30 weeks (around 6 to 7 months).

How much money do firefighters make in Iowa? ›

The average salary for a firefighter in Iowa is $68,000 per year. Firefighter salaries in Iowa can vary between $42,500 to $99,000 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more. Was this helpful?

How do I become a volunteer firefighter in Iowa? ›

Must be an active member of an organized volunteer fire department in Iowa. Must meet the minimum training standards established by the Fire Service Training Bureau, a division of the Iowa Department of Public Health. A paid firefighter who volunteers for another fire department is eligible for the credit.

What qualifications do you need to become fireman? ›

You don't need any particular qualifications to become a firefighter, however you'll be expected to pass English and Maths tests at a GCSE Grade C level (or equivalent).

How long does it take to train as a firefighter? ›

All new firefighters are required to undergo extensive training that normally lasts between 12 and 16 weeks. Even firefighters who have been doing the job for a number of years are required to do ongoing training to ensure they're at the top of their game.

How old do you have to be to be a firefighter in Iowa? ›

Candidates seeking certification, for Firefighter I, within the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau Certification System must meet the following: 1. Be a current member of an Iowa fire, emergency or rescue organization. In addition to the membership requirement, all persons must be at least 18 years of age.

How much do EMT firefighters make Iowa? ›

Data source tooltip for average base salary. The average salary for a firefighter/paramedic is $58,389 per year in Iowa. 6 salaries reported, updated at August 2, 2022.

How much does a police officer in Iowa make? ›

The starting salary first day of the appointment is $73,050. This salary will increase over four years to $92,955 with the opportunity for promotion and additional pay. The starting salary first day of the appointment is $79,290.

How many full time fire departments are in Iowa? ›

Iowa has about 850 fire departments statewide, according to the Department of Public Safety.


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