Updated January 6, 2021
Have you always known that you wanted a career helping people? Have you ever witnessed a Paramedic / Firefighter treat someone with compassion and courage? Are you looking for a rewarding career where you can give back to your community? These are some reasons people decide to become a first responder. This career does not follow the traditional college degree path, so understanding how to become a Paramedic / Firefighter can be confusing for some people.
According to the St. Louis County Fire Academy, there are currently ‘1551 firefighters presently working in the 43 different agencies in St. Louis County’. Of these, 82% have their Paramedic license and 12% have their EMT license. The need for cross-trained firefighters continues to rise every year.
Many people who are interested in becoming an EMT, Paramedic or firefighter have the same question, ‘Where do I start? What is the best way to become a Paramedic / Firefighter?’. This question might seem difficult to answer or confusing to figure out, but in reality, it is very easy to answer.
I’ve been involved in EMS (emergency medical services) since 1996. Over the years, I’ve seen people given great advice on the quickest path to complete this goal, and I’ve also seen advice given that is very complicated and time-consuming. When I started my EMS career, I was lucky enough to receive great advice on how to become a paramedic successfully in the shortest amount of time.
I will share that same advice with you. In the state of Missouri (as of 2020), EMT’s and Paramedics are not required to have a college degree before or after training to be licensed. The path to becoming an EMT / Firefighter or Paramedic / Firefighter is simple. Here are the steps:
- Sign up and complete EMT school.
- Sign up and complete Paramedic school.
- AFTER you complete Paramedic school, apply for the fire academy. If you are able to find employment at a St. Louis County Fire Department/District or St. Charles County Fire Department / District before getting accepted into the fire academy, this could be very beneficial for you.
In my experience, this path is the most successful
and quickest to becoming a Paramedic / Firefighter. Since a college degree is not required to work as a licensed EMT or Paramedic, we suggest completing your college degree after the fire academy. A college degree is always beneficial as you climb the ranks at the fire department, but this degree can always be completed after the fire academy. I would strongly suggest you obtain your college degree. It is invaluable and will make you a much more intelligent, well-rounded person.
Here are some common questions we get about becoming a Paramedic / Firefighter:
How long does it take to become a Paramedic / Firefighter?
To become a paramedic, you will need to attend EMT school (16 -18 weeks of training) and them Paramedic school (13 – 16 months). The fire academy lasts 14- 18 weeks.
How much does it cost to become a Paramedic / Firefighter?
There are several different programs that offer training, so the costs will vary. At Respond Right EMS Academy, the average cost for both EMT and Paramedic training is about $14,000. The average cost for the fire academy is approximately $4,000. Please keep in mind that these prices do vary depending on the program that is chosen. These estimated costs were taken as of January 2021.
Is there an age requirement to be a Paramedic / Firefighter?
Yes. You must be at least 18 years old.
Do I need to pass a physical exam, background check or drug screening?
Yes. Candidates must be able to pass a physical exam that indicates they are able to participate in strenuous exercise. In the fire academy, you will be required to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). This test consists of eight tasks that simulate the job duties of a firefighter. Candidates will also be required to pass a background check and drug screening. Anyone with active of pending felonies will be excluded from the program.
If you are interested in more guidance or have questions, feel free to reach out. We are here to help you get started with your career as a Paramedic / Firefighter.
If you are ready to get started, you can sign up for EMT training here.