Firefighters deal with unforeseen eruptions of fire in homes, offices, shopping malls, plazas, etc. They are first responders during fire outbreaks and medical emergencies anywhere in South Carolina. Putting out fires, rescuing people trapped in a burning building, and providing medical help to the injured are some of the regular duties of firefighters.

Because most of them are qualified EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians), firefighters are also known as Firefighter EMTs. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Palmetto State had 5,750 of them in 2020. If this career path is for you, then read on to find out how to become a firefighter in South Carolina.

Should I Become a Firefighter in South Carolina?

  • Education
  • Area(s) of Study
  • Major Requirement
  • Licenses/Certifications
  • Experience/Training
  • Key Skills
  • Annual Mean Salary (2020) – National
  • Job Outlook (2019-29)
  • Annual Mean Salary (2020) – South Carolina
  • High School Diploma/General Educational Development (GED) Certificate
  • Emergency Medical Services, Fire Engineering, Fire Science, Fire Management, etc.
  • Required
  • Required
  • Active Listening, Communication, Public Safety and Security, Arm-Hand Steadiness, Oral and Written Comprehension, Operation Monitoring and Control, Static Strength.
  • $56,360
  • 6%
  • $37,980

Sources: O*NET OnLine and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The nature of a firefighter’s job is such that there are always health and safety risks involved. They often have to enter burning buildings to save people trapped inside. Therefore, physical fitness is an important consideration for the fire departments when recruiting new personnel. Work hours are based on rotating shifts but firefighters are on call most of the time.

Career Outlook

Between 2019 and 2029, vacancies for firefighters will increase by 6% according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite great improvements in building safety standards over the years, unforeseen fire outbreaks are still possible. Therefore, firefighters will be in demand.

Steps to Become a Firefighter in South Carolina

Follow the procedure described in this section to become a firefighter in South Carolina.

Meet the Educational Demands

For aspiring firefighters, the only binding educational requirement is getting a High School Diploma or GED (General Educational Development) Certificate. But, having better educational credentials will obviously help you get ahead.
So, if you decide to obtain specialized post-secondary education, then you have the following options.

  • Certificate or Diploma in Fire Science/Fire Management (6 months to 1 year)
  • Associate of Science in Fire Science (2 years)
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire Engineering (4 years)

Pursue Employment With Your City/County/State Fire Department

After getting the needed education, you can pursue employment with your local or state firefighting service.

Written Evaluations

After applying, the first challenge is the initial written exam of the relevant fire department as well as the American Red Cross First Responder Test. To qualify both assessments, you need to score at least 70% on the former and at least 80% on the latter.

Pass the Physical Exam

You can take the standard CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test). Alternatively, the relevant fire unit may have its own physical examination.

Medical Test and Background Checks

After the physical assessment, it is time for the medical exam and background checks.

Firefighter Training

Following the screening process, you will enroll in a South Carolina fire academy for training. This usually lasts for 5 to 6 months. Upon graduation, you can start working as a probationary firefighter.

Get Your EMT License

You must earn your EMT license within 1 year of joining a fire department. Another credential that can be obtained is the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Firefighter certification.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Firefighter in South Carolina?

Depending on your chosen path, it can take less than 1 year (if you pursue a firefighting career straight out of high school) or anywhere between 1 and 5 years (if you go for specialized post-secondary education first) to become a firefighter in South Carolina.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Firefighter in South Carolina?

Aspiring firefighters in South Carolina need to meet these requirements.

  • Should be at least 18.
  • Be legal American citizens (birth or naturalization).
  • Attain a High School Diploma or GED Certificate.
  • Possess a valid South Carolina driving license.
  • Should not have any criminal convictions.
  • Complete firefighting and EMT training.

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Firefighter in South Carolina?

In 2020, firefighters in South Carolina earned $37,980 in annual mean salary. This is according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.