Here's How Much Firefighters Really Get Paid

Firefighters are possibly the closest thing we have to real-life superheroes. They have uniforms, a ton of special equipment, a skillset that's well beyond ordinary people, and even their own, themed vehicles. Oh, and they also fight some of the worst disasters a person can face. It's a special, dangerous job that requires special, dedicated people. Just ask Steve Buscemi, who worked as a New York City firefighter for four years before moving on to become a famous actor. Despite his fame and fortune, he dropped everything when 9/11 came, and rejoined his trusty Engine Company 55 incognito, working 12-hour shifts digging survivors from the rubble of the World Trade Center. That's the kind of people firefighters are.

Still, even this noble profession can become a bit awkward when money enters the equation. Private fire departments have a problematic, payment-soliciting history, and though that's obviously not your average firefighter's fault, it's kind of hard to picture the concept of monetary compensation when it comes to this particular profession. Have you ever wondered just how much these people make from their dangerous work? Let's take a look at how much firefighters really get paid.

There's more to firefighting than just money

How much should you pay someone whose job description is essentially "hero?" According to Payscale, firefighting isn't what you'd call a fast track to an early retirement on a tropical island, though it's perfectly possible to make a pretty good living as a firefighter. Their average salary in the US is $48,222, and the best-paid ones can make around $84,000 a year. However, the firefighters at the lower end of the payscale make just $31,000 a year, or even less. Steve Buscemi, on the other hand, presumably makes a tad more. 

It's by no means the worst salary in existence, when you compare it to the median household income in the US, which the United States Census Bureau tells us was $61,937 in 2018. A household with two firefighters would easily reach that, even if they both made that £31,000. Still, for someone who runs towards the fire for a living, "barely median salary" does seem a bit small. 

Fortunately, firefighters do have another significant job perk. As Naz Beheshti of Forbes reported in 2019, a survey discovered that firefighters have the highest job satisfaction in the US. Turns out, people value clear professional goals, and there are few clearer goals than "please stop that burning thing from being on fire."