fireman firewoman
Security, uniformed and protective services

Career outlook for firefighter

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would protect and save people and property from fire and other dangers. You’d respond to emergencies, and rescue people from life-threatening situations.

You’d also help to prevent fires by giving people advice about fire safety.

You would provide emergency services. You would:

  • Control and put out fires
  • Deal with bomb alerts
  • Rescue victims from burning buildings, accident sites and other dangerous situations
  • Manage chemical or hazardous substance spills

You’d need to be able to react quickly and remain calm in dangerous situations. You’d inspire the public’s confidence in rapidly-changing situations. Self-discipline, teamwork and following safety regulations are crucial.

In the fire prevention side of the job you would give talks and presentations to schools and other community groups.

You would inspect buildings to make sure that they meet fire safety regulations. When new buildings are being constructed you’d advise on fire safety measures.

You would also have routine station duties.

You would:

  • Inspect, clean and maintain equipment
  • Carry out practice drills
  • Take part in training

If you reach senior officer rank, you’d be responsible for writing detailed reports of incidents, and carrying out management and policy work.

Working conditions


You could work full-time or as a part-time (retained) firefighter. If you are full-time, you will usually work 42 hours a week, which includes day and night shifts to cover a 24-hour service. As a retained firefighter, you would usually be based in rural areas or smaller towns. You may have another job but you would make yourself available in emergency situations.


This job can be stressful and physically demanding, and you will often work in very uncomfortable situations, for example at heights or in enclosed spaces. Working in all weathers and being in danger from collapsing buildings, vehicle fumes and explosions are all part of the job.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Resilience
  • Reflecting
  • Making decisions
  • Risk taking
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Cooperating
  • Social conscience
  • Problem solving

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


Currently there are no set entry requirements for this role however this may change in the future.

Entry is very competitive.

Firefighters usually work for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, but some are employed at airports and some by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The recruitment process for jobs outwith the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is different. You would need to check the MoD or airport websites for job vacancies and requirements.

Useful subjects

English and maths may be helpful when sitting the entrance tests. 

You will also need

You need to be at least 18 years of age and legally entitled to work in the United Kingdom.

Applicants will need to complete: 

  • an online application form
  • then a situational judgement test (SJT) This is an assessment carried out online and is designed to measure judgements in a realistic work setting. This test presents the candidate with a series of scenario-based questions and a list of possible responses to the situation from which the respondent can choose.
  • numerical tests - these are online and consist of numerical problems for which quick and accurate calculations are required.

Candidates who are successful after this stage of the recruitment process will be invited to attend:

  • a pre-fitness assessment which comprises of a multi-stage shuttle run, also known as the ‘bleep' test,
  • then Practical Selection Tests (PSTs) which are designed to assess whether candidates have the ability to carry out the more physical aspects of the role and therefore closely reflect the wide range of physical tasks carried out,
  • then competency-based interviews which assess candidates against specific behavioural indicators
  • and finally a medical and fitness assessment.

For eyesight requirements please check on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate understanding of protective services, physical and mental fitness and commitment to your community such as Skills for Work Uniformed and Emergency Services (SCQF level 4), SQA  Leadership Award (SCQF level 5/6).

There are uniformed service preparation courses available up to SCQF level 5; entry is usually by interview but these courses do not guarantee entry to fire and rescue services.