What is the average firefighter salary for 2023? (by State) (2023)

What is the average firefighter salary for 2023? (by State) (1)About the Author: Hi! I'm Chris Hunt, and I wrote this article. With years of experience as a former firefighter and knowledge of combustible materials, I have personally researched and compiled the information presented here. Please note that the content provided is solely my opinion and should not be construed as professional advice. Additionally, I do not guarantee the quality or performance of any of the products featured. Please be sure to review the website's Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions before using the site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases (without additional cost or expense to you).

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The average firefighter’s salary varies greatly depending on where they work, what they do, and their rank. But first, let’s explore the national median wage and per-state figures.

How much do firefighters make?

The latest data on firefighter salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is from 2021. They publish their latest figures usually around the end of the year with information from the previous year. So, for example, at the end of 2022, they publish 2021 information.

Based on this data, a firefighter can expect to make a median salary of $50,700, making an average of $24.38 per hour.

Note that salaries decreased from 2020, when the median was $51,195.

National statistics balance out numbers, so they are incredibly variable. So it’s better to look into each state to understand how much they make.

What states have the highest average firefighter salary?

The five states that pay firefighters the highest salary are:

  1. New Jersey: $84,930
  2. California: $80,990
  3. Washington: $76,280
  4. New York: $72,670
  5. Colorado: $68,300

New Jersey and California are the best of the statistic, with the top spot being won again by New Jersey this year.

What states pay firefighters the least?

The five states that pay firefighters the lowest salary are:

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  1. West Virginia: $36,850
  2. Kentucky: $34,060
  3. Louisiana: $33,400
  4. Mississippi: $32,870
  5. Puerto Rico: $27,250
What is the average firefighter salary for 2023? (by State) (2)

What is the average firefighter salary in each state?

It is hard to directly compare states because the cost of living and tax rates differ substantially. So, you need to consider the quality of life you will have – not just the take-home pay.

For example, California is among the highest-paid state for firefighters but has the most expensive living cost. Conversely, Mississippi is among the lowest-paid state for firefighters but is a relatively inexpensive place to live.

Here’s the complete list of states and the average firefighter salary in the USA:

StateAbbreviationTotal FirefightersAverage Salary
New HampshireNH240052260
New JerseyNJ596084930
New MexicoNM217039940
New YorkNY1064072670
North CarolinaNC1541036950
North DakotaND66052010
Puerto RicoPR171027250
Rhode IslandRI130062860
South CarolinaSC549039750
South DakotaSD44049090
West VirginiaWV85036850

How has the firefighters’ salary evolved in the past five years?

On average, the salaries have been steadily increasing between 1.5 and 2% annually for the past years. However, that’s changed. In the past year, it has slightly declined.

The table below shows the actual median wage for each year.

YearTotal FirefightersAverage Annual Salary US$

A truly worrisome statistic was the descendant of available firefighters in 2020. For the 1st time in several years, the total number of firefighters fell. That was the global pandemic that ravaged the United States and the world.

First responders, such as firefighters, took the worst hit as they got sick, and many died. Others, perhaps struck with grief, fear of getting sick, or for personal reasons, decided to leave the service.

I’ve witnessed so many dedications and salutes to lost heroes, mainly firefighters, on the internet that it strikes my heart with sadness every time I read their stories. May their friends and families find peace and solace for their fallen ones.

Comparisons to similar professions

What is the average firefighter salary for 2023? (by State) (3)

Do cops make more than firefighters?

Many people considering firefighting as a career consider becoming a police officer. The two professions have many similarities because both serve the public and act as a safety net for needy people. It can be incredibly gratifying knowing that you have helped save lives and keep people safe.

Both police officers and firefighters need to stay physically fit and mentally alert. So maintaining a strict workout routine is a must.

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And, of course, both professions are very well respected by the public.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the median police officer salary at $70,740. This salary is higher than the BLS’s statistics on the median firefighter salary of $50,700.

One potential explanation for the difference is that police regularly deal with aggressive people, felons, and other lawbreakers.

There are about 668,970 police officers in the United States compared to 317,930 firefighters.

Do paramedics earn more than firefighters?

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) – known as paramedics – are perhaps similar to firefighters. Paramedics and firefighters are both dispatched to emergencies in the community.

They must safely drive their vehicles in high-stakes situations through traffic to attend to emergencies as fast as they can.

Similarly, paramedics and firefighters need to know emergency first-aid and other medical procedures they may administer on the spot.

And, of course, they may both be in the business of saving lives and carrying humans who cannot remove themselves from dangerous situations and take themselves to a hospital.

How much do EMTs make?

According to the BLS, paramedics make significantly less than firefighters. For example, the median salary for paramedics is $41,480 compared to the median firefighter salary of $50,700.

What is the average firefighter salary for 2023? (by State) (4)

What training do you need to become a firefighter?

The minimum requirement to become a firefighter is usually a high school diploma. However, getting your foot in the door is very difficult and requires much networking and extracurricular credit.

One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Then, you could graduate from an EMT to a firefighter position when a job finally opens near your home. Similarly, you might want to work in Emergency Dispatch to get some experience in the industry.

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Some jurisdictions allow people to volunteer with the fire service to start networking in their local area.

Other requirements include age (often under 35 when you start), physical fitness (you will need to pass a fitness test), and further education.

Further education frequently includes a Firefighting I or Firefighting II certificate from a local community college.

What it’s like to be a firefighter

What do firefighters do on an average day on the job?

A firefighter can expect to do much more than attending call-outs to fires on an average day.

They usually begin their shift by checking their equipment and ensuring the truck and station are clean and organized. Then, they will ensure they are ready to attend an emergency call-out at any time during their shift.

Other activities include:

  • Some stations offer fire extinguisher maintenance, checking, and recharging services for the public.
  • They maintain equipment such as fire trucks, firefighting pumps, and hoses.
  • They perform public education and outreach campaigns.
  • Daily training and upskilling.
  • They maintain operational readiness by doing drills at the station.

You can check out what they do in their free time in a separate article.

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What states have the highest firefighter salaries?

Both New Jersey and California compete neck-in-neck to be the highest paying state. Right now, New Jersey is at the top. Last year, it was California.

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Where are the lowest firefighter’s salaries?

Louisiana, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico share the bottom spot for having the lowest firefighters’ wages in the country.

How many firefighters work in the US?

The BLS states that there are around 310,000 active-duty firefighters in the US.

What is the salary for a firefighter?

It depends entirely on what state you live in, your rank, and the number of years on the job. The current national average salary is $52,500 annually.


There are over 317,930 firefighters in the United States. But, of course, they earn different salaries depending on rank, living, and many other factors.

But, on average, a firefighter earns about $50,700 annually.

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