Well since I'm new I'll introduce myself first. The names Eric and I'm currently in the Marine Corps with a little less than 3 years to go. I'm 22 years old and stationed in Miramar, CA.
My question is seeing as I have 3 years to go, I want to utilize those 3 years to get any qualifications I need to become a firefighter, and I need help deciding which path to take. Becoming a FF is a life long dream of mine. I use to watch the firetrucks pass by and think to myself how I would give anything in the world to be in the position those firefighters are in.
I know I need EMT-B and EMT-P is a big plus as well as college and any degree correlating with firefighting is a big plus as well. I also know the station I get hired at will send me to the academy. Unless I you guys think it will help to get this done first.
So, if you were me in my situation what would you do if:
Your work routine consist of working from 7-4:30 Mon-Fri with weekends off, and you could get college payed for by the Govt now and later, and you had three years to get your quals.
Would you do college and EMT-B/P at the same time, EMT-B/P by itself and do college after you get a job, or finish up a AA or BA degree first then get EMT-B/P quals? Please keep in mind that if I get my EMT-B first at least I can get on a voulenteer fire department and get some quality experience in. Or would you recommend something else?
Please note, if I did just college I would only be able to complete a AA by the time I get out, not a BA. And what degree do you recommend?
Eric, first, welcome.
Next, what area do you want to work in when you ETS? Preparing for the hiring process can vary drastically from coast to coast and even cities within. For example, most areas in CA you need to have most of your certs before you even apply. However, in the midwest, most areas will hire the applicant and send you through their own academy and EMT-B program regardless of your current certs. So deciding where (at least an area) you'd like to work is probably the first step to formulating a plan.
Personally, unless you already have medical experience, I would advise against doing a combined EMT-B/P program or doing them back to back. I think people that are strong EMT-Bs and have some good experience at that level tend to make better Paramedics and usually do better in the school.
As for college, the degree major isn't so important until get up in the administrative level, where they like to see Executive Fire Officer or Masters level programs dealing with public admin and the such. For now, make sure you have a strong foundation in grammar, writing and public speaking. If you can swing it, check with your base education center and get your Associates in General Studies now. That will get most of the prerequisites out of the way for a Bachelors in the future. Then you can decide what direction you want to take your education at that point.
If you don't have any medical experience, I would get your EMT-B soon. You can probably pick it up in less than six months going once or twice a week to class for a couple hours each. Then volunteer with a local FD or even see if your commander will allow you to work part time as an EMT-B (ambulance company or possibly an ER/Urgent Care clinic) once a week for a few hours. Most career departments have medical runs making up around 80% of their runs, so you can see the importance of being able to relate this during your interview.
Finally, you'll see it stressed here over and over, keep a clean background. Regardless of your qualifications, messing up your criminal history or credit can disqualify you immediately. Try to avoid any traffic tickets, don't get into any alcohol related incidents, keep your finances strong, etc.
Hello and welcome to the site. Thanks for serving our country and making it a better place.
I too am in California.
Get involved in as many classes as you can in the military. Things that will help you are: Corpseman, hazardous materials training, diesel mechanic. Anything course that you can relate to the fire service willhelp you out tremendously. Also, enroll in school. A agree with the previous poster who recommended to get your AS degree. You can take classes online at Palomar or Miramar. If not, check out Alan Han**** College in Santa Barbara. They have a robust online fire science program. You can earn your fire science degree completely online.
You want to position yourself to go through a basic fire academy as soon as you are released from the Marine Corp. A junior college fire academy will make you much more marketable to a fire department. It will also make it more likely that you will make it through a department's academy when you finally do get hired.
I also like the idea of becomming an EMT. There are plenty of ambulance companies who would love a responsible person who was willing to work on weekends. This will help you build hours for Paramedic school down the road (you need 1600 hours as an EMT).
You are very wise to be thinking ahead of what you can do NOW so that you are ready to step into a firefighting position when you leave the military.
Gentlemen, I appreciate the time you and effort you put into those answers. They were extremely helpful and I will be sure to get started on that ASAP!