Salary and Growth
The median annual wage of firefighters was $31,700 in 2011. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,000, and the top 10 percent earned more than $75,500. In West Central Pennsylvania which includes Allegheny County, the average hourly salary is $12.44 per hours with an average yearly salary of $25,900.00 with more experience yearly salaries $36,800.00. Source
Employment of firefighters is expected to grow 9 percent, slower than the average for all occupations. Continued population growth will increase the number of emergency calls requiring firefighter responses. The majority of situations that firefighters respond to are medical—rather than fire—emergencies and the aging of the population will lead to an increased demand for emergency responders. In addition, jobs will be created as volunteer firefighters are converted to paid positions in areas where population growth creates the need for a full-time workforce. An increase in urban populations, where full-time firefighters are more common, also is expected to increase the demand for firefighters. Source
In 2010, 67 percent of firefighters were union members or covered by a union contract.
Firefighters typically work long and varied hours. Many work about 50 hours a week. Some firefighters work 24-hour shifts on duty and are off the following 48 or 72 hours. Others work 10-hour day shifts for 3 to 4 days, followed by 14-hour night shifts for 3 to 4 nights before receiving 3 to 4 days off. Additional hours may be required when responding to a fire or medical emergency. Prospective firefighters will face tough competition for positions. Many people are attracted to the job’s challenge, opportunity for public service, relatively low formal educational requirements, and pensions that are usually guaranteed after 25 years of service. As a result, a department often receives hundreds or thousands of applicants for a single position. Physically-fit applicants with high test scores, some post-secondary firefighter education, and paramedic training have the best prospects. Source