Financial Benefits of Taking the Firefighter Promotional Exam


Most people do not start a career as a firefighter because of the huge salary, they do it because they love the job. Keep reading to find out how much of a positive impact promoting can have on your wallet to stay motivated while completing your firefighter promotional exam prep.

Firefighter Starting Pay

According to FireRescue1, the median pay for firefighters in the United States was $50,850 as of 2019. This number obviously varies depending on the area in which you work. Rural areas tend to make less, and big cities tend to make more to compensate for the cost of living in those places. Firefighters working in California, New Jersey, and Washington have the highest average rate of pay. 


As they say, with more responsibility comes….more money? Absolutely! When you promote from a firefighter to a fire driver/operator/engineer, you should get a nice salary boost. The average Firefighter/Engineer position pays $71,860 with some making as little as $40,000 a year and as much as $95,000 a year depending on location. 


The next step up from Driver/Operator/Engineer is Lieutenant. Fire Lieutenants make an average of $77,814 a year ranging from $34,000 to $114,000. As mentioned before the ranges vary so much just based on location, so don’t think if you are making $60,000 now your pay could decrease to $34,000, that will not happen. For some people in rural areas most likely, that may be a pay increase for them. 


Want even more responsibility, promote to Fire Captain. Captains are in charge of the day to day operation of the fire company and are generally the highest ranking person on a scene. The average salary for Fire Captains in the US is $83,389 with salaries typically falling between $79,000 and $130,000. 

Battalion Chief 

After Captain comes Battalion Chief. Battalion Chiefs are reported to make up to $208,000 a year with their salaries averaging around $115,000 a year

Division Chief

The average salary for the Division Fire Chief position is $121,309 but with the potential to make as much as $303,000 a year. 


The end goal if you decide to move all the way up the ladder on the promotion journey is to become Fire Chief. The Fire Chief of San Fransisco makes $344,000 a year. The lowest average salary by state is in North Carolina with an average salary of $74,252. So if you decide to promote all the way to the top of the ladder, be prepared to be compensated accordingly. 


Some places pay more right off the bat if you have a degree. Having a degree as a firefighter may seem strange, but many of the higher ranking positions require it as well. 

Financial Benefits

Some may say I am happy in my current position, why would I promote? Sure I get more money but I will also probably have more responsibility. You may have more responsibility when on the job, but think about all of the new financial benefits you will gain: 

  • Pay Off Debts

  • Take Vacations

  • Financial Security

  • Buy a Home

  • Invest

  • Save for Retirement

Being financially stable is an important thing for your wallet and overall stress levels. 

The Takeaway

The ranges of salary as you promote and move up the ladder may seem overwhelmingly large but know this, if you promote, you will get a pay raise, the amount just depends on where you work. With a promotion comes more financial freedom and stability in life. Be sure to check out this article to see if you are ready to start your promotion journey and begin your firefighter promotional exam prep.