If you’re considering a career in the fire service, then you’re probably wondering how much you might get paid? Well, we’ve got a breakdown by state that can help you get a baseline figure that we think you might find useful.
The average firefighter is paid $50,850 per year. However, there is a lot of variation in average salaries and the same studies showed that the lowest-paid quartile only took home just under $35,000 and the highest-paid made nearly $70,000!
While those numbers may sound low, remember they are just averages and what really matters is salary in relation to the cost of living in that area. Here’s what you need to know.
Your # 1 priority is keeping your family safe. As a firefighter, I recommend everyone has updated smoke detectors that don’t require battery changes, like these ones from Kidde, a fire extinguisher, like this one from Amerex, and a fire escape ladder if you have bedrooms above the first floor, I recommend this one from Hausse.
How Much Do Firefighters Get Paid?
Firefighters get paid differently depending on which fire department they join, which state they live in, their own qualifications and experiences, etc.
How Much Do Firefighters Make Per Year?
However, typically a firefighter in the US will make between $30,000 and $70,000 a year. There are substantial increases for firefighters who are promoted through the ranks too.
The highest-paid people in the fire service in the United States can take home over $300,000!
Note: This will depend on the area, seniority, actual position or rank in the fire department, specialty certifications, and most importantly, working overtime hours. The majority of firefighters that make these high-end salaries include hundreds, if not thousands of extra hours worked per year beyond their normal schedules.
However, it’s fair to say that you shouldn’t enter the fire service with expectations of getting rich, the privilege is to serve your community, rather than line your pockets with cash.
It is quite common for firefighters to have second jobs in order to pay their bills, take a look here:
Firefighter Salaries By State
Please note: this data is based on averages from each state, you may earn more or less than this depending on your exact employment contract.
Please note: this data was drawn from the May 2019 OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) Survey for Firefighters, covered by OCC Code 33-2011, BLS.
Thus, it’s reasonable to assume that these averages have risen a little in the last 2 years since the survey was issued. Except for the salary of firemen in Washington D.C., this was not present in the survey and was, instead, drawn from other sources.
Alabama – $41,870
Firefighters in Alabama get paid better than those in 18 other states and Alabama has the 11th lowest cost of living in the country. This makes the salary of firefighters in the state reasonably equitable, and it shouldn’t be too hard to live on a firefighter’s wage.
Alaska – $54,380
Alaska, by contrast, pays better than 36 other states but has the 45th lowest cost of living in the country, which means the pay rate in Alaska may be harder to live on than in Alabama. Much of this, of course, comes from the weather conditions in this state.
Arizona – $46, 870
There are 25 states that get paid less than a firefighter in Arizona but only 23 states that are cheaper to live in than Arizona. That means a firefighter there is offered a fairly equitable deal based on salary tables alone.
Arkansas – $36,730
The average salary might look low, but the state has the second-lowest cost of living in the nation and only the 8th lowest rate of pay. It might not be easy to live on a firefighter’s salary in Arkansas, but it can be done.
California – $84,370
There’s only one destination that’s more expensive in the whole country and that’s Hawaii, however, California pays the best salary to firefighters in the United States. It’s worth noting, though, that in many locations in California, it’s going to be a struggle to live on just a firefighter’s wage.
Colorado – $63,050
With a high wage for firefighters when compared to the national averages and a middling cost of living, Colorado’s firefighters are offered better financial terms than in some other states. However, there are places in this state where basics like rent are very expensive.
Delaware – $46,390
They pay better than 23 states in Delaware but it’s the 35th cheapest state to live in which means that, currently, the average salary for firefighters is a little low when compared to other states.
Florida – $51,300
With 31 states paying less, on average than Florida and the exact midpoint nationally when it comes to the cost of living, Florida offers a good deal for firefighters though we understand it can get pretty expensive to live well in Miami.
Georgia – $38,900
Georgia is the 9th cheapest state to live in in the United States and it pays better than 11 other states do. The salary may not be great, but it does seem to accurately reflect the cost of living in the state.
Also read: How Much Does It Cost To Call An Ambulance?
Hawaii – $64,110
Hawaii’s pay rate may look generous at first glance and it’s the 8th highest rate for firefighters in the country, in fact. However, the cost of living in Hawaii is higher than anywhere else in the country and you might expect a bit more salary to compensate for that.
Idaho – $39,260
There are 13 states that offer lower average pay than Idaho and it comes in 19th place when it comes to the lowest cost of living. That means firefighters in Idaho are, perhaps, a little underpaid when you compare pay rates to other states but not dramatically so.
Illinois – $58,170
Illinois’ firefighters seem to have a very good deal, there are 39 states which pay their firefighters less, on average, than they do in Illinois but only 20 states that offer a lower cost of living. If you’re completely location-independent, firefighting in Illinois is better compensated than in most states.
Indiana – $51,050
Indiana also offers a pretty sweet deal for firefighters with 31 states paying less, on average, than they do in Indiana. However, there are just 11 states with a lower cost of living! That means your salary will go farther in Indiana than in most states as a firefighter.
Iowa – $46,640
Iowa too offers firefighters a better than average pay to cost of living ratio. They pay better than 25 states but have the 13th lowest cost of living in the US. If you’re looking to get a decent deal as a firefighter, it’s worth considering a career in Iowa.
Kansas – $37,250
Kansas pays better than 9 other states and it has the 8th lowest cost of living in the country, which means salaries slightly outperform the cost of living in our league table. However, the average salary is below the recommended living wage for the state.
Kentucky – $34,030
Kentucky offers one of the worst deals when you compare average salary to cost of living, it has the 4th lowest salary of any state but the 16th lowest cost of living. That’s a pretty big gap and when we look at the living wage for the state, the average firefighter’s wage is substantially below it.
Louisiana – $31,150
Louisiana isn’t offering a great deal either with the 3rd lowest salaries of any state in the union but the 20th lowest cost of living. Our reference sources suggest that the gap between the living wage and a firefighter’s average wage is substantial in Louisiana.
Maine – $39,430
Maine might look like better value at first glance, but it has the 40th lowest cost of living in the states, which means it’s an expensive place to live. And that average salary is only better than 14 other states. However, some parts of Maine are much cheaper to live in than others.
Maryland – $62,750
A bigger than average salary sees Maryland paying its firefighters better on average than in 41 other states, however, the state is more expensive to live in than 43 other states. That means the salary in Maryland ought to more accurately reflect the cost of living there than in some other states.
Massachusetts – $62,680
Another strong showing on the average salary front is Massachusetts which offers a better wage than 40 other states, however, with a cost of living just outside of the top 5 states in the country, it’s not as generous a salary as it might first appear.
Michigan – $46,010
Michigan offers a pretty good deal, though, with 20 states paying less than Michigan but only 8 having lower costs of living. A firefighter in Michigan may be surprised to find just how far their salary goes when compared to a firefighter in say, Hawaii.
Minnesota – $39,390
There are 13 states that pay better than Minnesota on average which is going to be disappointing for firefighters there as there are 30 states with lower costs of living. A firefighter in Minnesota could definitely get a better deal elsewhere.
Mississippi – $30,180
The lowest-paid firefighters in the United States, on average, are the firefighters that call Mississippi their home state. Fortunately, they also live in the state with the absolute lowest cost of living in America which means they’re not as hard done by as a quick glance at the numbers might imply.
Missouri – $51,110
Missouri firefighters have it good though, they’re paid better than more than 30 other states’ firefighters on average but face the fourth-lowest cost of living in the country. That means Missouri firefighters have one of the best pay deals in the nation!
Montana – $51,880
Montana firefighters see near-perfect parity between their average salary and the cost of living in Montana which is the 34th cheapest state to live in.
Nebraska – $50,150
They get a decent deal in Nebraska where firefighters are paid better, on average, than firefighters in 29 other states. They face the 15th cheapest cost of living across the United States though, which means their pay outperforms.
Nevada – $69,310
Nevada’s firefighters live in the 36th cheapest state to live in but are lucky enough to enjoy a salary that is on average better than that paid in 45 other states! That’s a pretty sweet deal and as you can see from the average amount, Nevada’s pay package stands out.
New Hampshire – $47,120
New Hampshire’s firefighters find themselves paid better than 26 other states but find the cost of living in the 37th cheapest state. That means they perform a little worse in the pay packet than some other states do.
New Jersey – $80,890
New Jersey’s firefighters are the second-best paid in the nation with only the lucky few in California outperforming them. This is not bad given that their cost of living is only the 42nd cheapest in the country and thus. they’re paid at a better rate than their cost of living/
New Mexico – $36,620
New Mexico’s firefighters only get paid better than those in 5 other states, but there are only 4 states in the US that are cheaper to live in than New Mexico. In fact, the overall cost of living data suggests that this is a fair salary for that part of the world.
New York – $75,160
New York’s firefighters come in fourth when it comes to their overall average pay behind Washington, New Jersey, and California. However, with New York ranking third most expensive place to live in the Union behind California and Hawaii, that’s probably about fair.
North Carolina – $34,110
Firefighters in North Carolina might feel that they’re a bit under-rewarded given that their average pay is only better than a couple of other states but their state is only the 22nd cheapest to live in.
North Dakota – $46,080
North Dakota outperforms 22 other states when it comes to the average firefighter’s wage but this underperforms given that the state is the 28th cheapest to live in. However, that’s not such a huge discrepancy that it makes life unbearable.
Ohio – $47,820
Ohio’s pay packet exceeds, on average, that in 28 other states. Given that Ohio has the 14th lowest cost of living in the country, that sounds like a pretty decent deal for firefighters based in Ohio.
Oklahoma – $44,860
Oklahoma beats nearly 20 states when it comes to the average fireman’s take-home pay and that’s very good news for firefighters in the state. Why? Because according to all data, Oklahoma is the third cheapest state to live in, beaten only by Arkansas and Mississippi.
Oregon – $68,540
There are only 5 states that pay better than Oregon which might sound like firefighters there get an amazing deal but, in fact, there are only 3 states in which it’s more expensive to live on average than Oregon. So the money doesn’t go as far as you might think it would.
Pennsylvania – $58,720
Only 10 states get better pay packets, on average, for fighters than Pennsylvania and that seems a reasonable deal given that Pennsylvania is the 32nd cheapest state to live in according to our cost of living metrics.
Rhode Island – $56,150
Rhode Island’s firefighters get paid better than those in about 37 other states but sadly, it’s the 41st cheapest destination to live in and that means the pay is about fair rather than generous.
South Carolina – $36,360
With only 5 states’ firefighters, on average, receiving a lower pay packet than those in South Carolina, you might expect them to have a very low cost of living but our charts suggest that firefighters in South Carolina only have the 23rd lowest cost of living.
South Dakota – $45,820
South Dakota’s firefighters get paid better than South Carolina’s and they occupy a slot 22 states above the bottom of the paytable but they’re the 29th cheapest place to live, so they might feel a little underappreciated financially.
Tennessee – $44,400
In stark contrast, Tennessee’s firefighters are lucky enough to have the 6th lowest cost of living in the country while getting paid better, on average, than firefighters in nearly 20 other states! That’s a great deal.
Texas – $54,760
Texas may be getting more expensive to live in but with the 36th highest rate of pay for firefighters and with it being currently the 18th cheapest state to live in, there’s some padding in a firefighter’s salary to help them get by in the future.
Utah – $38,360
In Utah, they only pay better than 10 other states on average but firefighters there will have to contend with the 27th cheapest cost of living in America.
Vermont – $39,970
Similarly, in Vermont, they get paid better than they do in 15 other states, but they have to deal with the 39th cheapest cost of living. That could be a struggle for a firefighter with a large family to take care of.
Virginia – $53,470
In Virginia the average firefighter takes home more than his counterparts in 34 states and given that Virginia is the 30th cheapest state to live in, that’s a pretty good deal for Virginian firefighters.
Washington – $76,970
They’re the third-best paid group of firefighters in the nation after New Jersey and California but given that they’re the 38th cheapest state to live in, this is actually a very good deal for firefighters in the state.
Washington D.C. – $53,866
The capital wasn’t on our list of firefighter average salaries, and we had to source it separately and there’s no official cost of living table for the capital either. However, it would place between Virginia and Alaska in terms of the generosity of the average firefighter’s pay packet.
West Virginia – $36,890
In West Virginia, they get paid better on average than in 8 other states, but they have the 17th cheapest cost of living in the country which isn’t a great deal.
Wisconsin – $40,360
In Wisconsin, firefighters take home more than 16 other states but have to contend with the 25th cheapest cost of living.
Wyoming – $46,180
Wyoming has a pretty good deal for firefighters as they are paid better than in more than 20 other states, but have the 10th lowest cost of living in the country.
Puerto Rico – $25,240
The firefighters of Puerto Rico might feel aggrieved when they see the higher average salaries paid to their counterparts in the United States but they ought not to. In fact, the cost of living in Puerto Rico when compared to the US is so much lower than a firefighter in Puerto Rico may well have more disposable income than any other firefighter on this list.
Note: We should point out here that while the cost of living and average salary are useful guides to how easy it is to get by on a firefighter’s wage, there are many other factors to take into account.
And some fire departments may pay more than the average and some cities may cost a lot more than the average to live in too.
Watch this video for more information about firefighter pay: