Become a Firefighter/Paramedic

Become a Firefighter/Paramedic

There are quite a few steps you need to take to become a firefighter/paramedic in the State of Illinois.  The best way to get correct information is to contact your local fire department and ask questions.  Fire departments may have different requirements for eligibility to test.  Prepare yourself by seeking the correct information.  If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, these steps below will guide you in the right direction: 

STEP 1: OBTAIN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA: If you want to become a firefighter in Illinois, you have to get a high school diploma as the first step. An equivalent GED certificate will suffice as well. Having said that, some fire departments might also require aspiring candidates to have a college degree. Most fire departments give preference points for college credits.

If you are in high school looking for an early start or to explore the fire service, consider enrolling in Lake County Tech Campus’ Firefighter Program. Located in Grayslake, this program has you learn the many aspects of the fire service while in high school. Students in the Firefighter program are eligible to receive 3 college credits and certifications, and has you well prepared to succeed in future classes.  

Check out the following link for more information:      Firefighting at the Tech Campus 

The Tech Campus also hosts its Emergency Medical Services program, which prepares students to succeed in the EMT-Basic exam and experience ride-alongs at a local Fire/EMS department. Students in this program must be seniors, and are eligible to receive 3 college credits and certifications, including an EMT-B.  

Check out the following links for more information:      EMS at the Tech Campus         TECHTalks | EMS w/ Melissa Greene 

To learn more about the Tech Campus’ firefighter and/or EMS programs, coordinate with your school counselor and/or call the Lake County Tech Campus at 847-223-6681.

 STEP 2: GET AN EMT CERTIFICATE: You will also have to get an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) Certificate to become a firefighter in the state of Illinois. Most fire departments require at least an EMT certification as a prerequisite to test.  If you already are an EMT, pursue your Paramedic certification.  This certification is highly desired in the fire service.

The following nearby colleges offer EMT Certificate programs whose coursework can be stacked towards an Associate in Applied Science Degree in EMT: McHenry County College, College of Lake County, and Harper College. Please contact the following for more information on their programs:

McHenry County College: 815-455-8690          College of Lake County: 847-543-2000          Harper College: 847-925-6700

STEP 3: OBTAIN CPAT CERTIFICATION: You will also need a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) certificate to become a firefighter in Illinois. You will have to get the CPAT well before you apply for the position of a firefighter. Since the CPAT certification has an expiration date, you should make sure you have a valid certificate when you apply for the job.  

Check out the following link to get more information:     CPAT Information 

STEP 4: CLEAR THE HIRING PROCESS: When you apply for the position of a firefighter and if your application is approved, you will have to go through a hiring process to join the ranks of firefighters in Illinois. You will have to clear various tests, interviews, background checks, etc. In general, fire departments administer an entry level firefighter exam every two years to establish an Eligibility Register. This Register includes the names of candidates who have successfully passed all areas of the testing process.  Every two years, the Register resets and the testing process is repeated to establish a new Eligibility Register.  A few sites you can visit online to search job openings in the fire service include :     Illinois Fire Chiefs   or just search "firefighter jobs" in any search engine.  

STEP 5: COMPLETE TRAINING AT A FIRE ACADEMY: The final step of the process is the completion of training at a designated fire academy. The duration of the training will depend on the requirements of the fire department you choose to join.  

Check out the following link to get more information :     Basic Operations Firefighter Academy 

Check out our latest Recruitment Video

For more information on the Fire Service in Lake County, click on Lake County Fire Chiefs Association Recruitment

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