They risk their lives for us, why are they underpaid? That is a burning question everyone has in the back of their head when it comes to the pay for first responders. In this article, I will explain why first responders make so little on their paychecks.
Why do first responders make so little?
First responders make so little mainly because on average there are more applicants than jobs available for these positions. Due to the large supply and demand for jobs in these fields, there is no need to pay a high salary to someone if they can just replace them with another applicant. EMT and Paramedics are the most underpaid first responders there are, so are firefighters.
How Much Does First Responders Make on Average?
This all depends on the job and the position. Firefighters, EMTs, and police do not make the same amount of money at all, so look at this chart below for the national average between these jobs.
|Firefighter national average salary||$47,812|
|Firefighter Chief national average salary||$92,302|
|EMT/Paramedic national average salary||$44,195|
|Police officer national average salary||$67,600|
|Chief of Police national average salary||$110,300|
You may think this is well paid, well compared to what they are putting on the line, it isn’t. You would be incredibly lucky to even get that if you decide you want to go in those careers. Plus you would have to work for a long time to increase your salary.
It takes years and countless other qualifications to climb the ladder to become a fire chief or chief of police. You would have to do some pretty serious things, stay at your job for years to come no matter what, and also show what makes you a great candidate for the job.
How Long Does It Take to Climb the Corporate Ladder?
In this article, they explain how long it takes to become chief of police, what comes with the title, and the education you must have to even be considered. It is no easy process; however, it is a rewarding one.
On average, you would need to be a police officer for at least 20 years. You do not jump from being a patrol officer to the chief of police however, you must go through other ranks in the corporate ladder to reach the possibility of you being chief.
First, you must go to the police academy, where you will learn all the skills and information you will need to become a police officer. Being a cop is no joke, so you will need extensive training to ensure your safety and others.
After the academy, you become a patrol officer and have earned your title “rookie” for being a newly trained and hired police officer. Sure, you will get some jokes thrown at you for a while, but it’ll all die down one day.
When you graduate from being a patrol officer for at least a year of working, you can become a K-9 officer, a detective, or even a member of the SWAT team in your area. This is a huge step from being a rookie, but also not the highest rank you can achieve.
After you have been in your new position for at least 5 to 10 years, you may be promoted to become a police sergeant. Police sergeants review phone calls that are made, inspecting uniforms and vehicles, and also are giving advice and discipline when it is needed.
Overall, the article explains how many years you must put into your career and the several positions that follow it. Read the article to find out more information!
The same applies to firefighters and EMTs also. They too have career advancements.
What’s the Point?
If first responders are getting paid so little, why do they continue to do these dangerous jobs? Well, just like if you love your job as a teacher, a contractor, or even working retail, they love their jobs too.
First responders love to help others, get that adrenaline when they are called and rush to save someone, and even combat crimes and danger in their city. They love it all, even if the job does not pay them enough. They mainly aren’t doing it for the money anyway, they are doing their job because it is simply their dream job.
If all first responders were unhappy with their jobs, then they would either quit or lose their passion for their careers. If this were to happen, then we wouldn’t have the helpful firefighters, the caring EMTs, and the brave police officers we have today.
So, that’s the point. They love what they do, and the risks that involve their jobs. First responders can be adrenaline junkies.
The Benefits That Make the Job Worth It
While there are risks in the field, there are also great rewards. Firefighters, EMTs, and Police officers receive amazing benefits while they are first responders. Saving lives and protecting others is part of their daily lives, why shouldn’t they get some rewards in the meantime?
While all departments may not have the same perks as other departments, most of them offer their employees offer them amazing benefits. Here are some of those benefits:
- Our police officers are offered extraordinary medical, vision, and dental coverage while on the force. This is to make sure if they are needing medical attention and for physicals, they can still perform their duties.
- A lot of departments offer 4 days in a workweek and 4-day weekends. This is not in every department but could be a huge perk if it is for your local officers.
- Up to 180 hours of annual paid vacation.
- Most departments offer almost a full salary pension if you have worked in the force for at least 30 years.
- EMTs are offered the same dental, vision, and medical attention just like our other first responders.
- Their company pays for disability and life insurance, a great perk for those with families or individuals who may qualify for disability.
- Paid time off for full-time employees, EMTs can use this after their probation is up.
- Paid $100 to stop smoking nicotine, and to visit primary care clinics.
- Firefighters get the same dental, vision, and medical treatments as other first responders.
- If they belong to a union, the union can give them scholarships for themselves and their dependents.
- They are provided with job security if part of a union.
- After 25 years of service, they can qualify for a retirement pension.
As you can see, even though their pay is not what it should be for the services they provide, they are very well taken care of by their employers. The main benefit though, is their families are well taken care of if something were to happen. Children and spouses of first responders play a huge role in the job, as they are the structural and emotional support outside the workplace.
Heroes in Our Community
Sure, they are underpaid. However, without them, our community would be open to violent crimes, out-of-control fires, and many lives would be lost. First responders are heroes, that is what makes them do the job. To protect and serve their hometowns and communities. Saving lives.
First responders may not be properly compensated for the job they do, but they do it to keep their community safe. Take time to thank your local first responders for being the heroes they are.
More on first responders HERE.
What benefits do children of first responders receive?
Children of first responders receive education and are given activities ran by the First Responder Children’s Foundation if they choose, financial support if their parent(s) have died in the line of duty, and are also given scholarships for those who are impacted while in college.
You can’t put a price on losing a parent, there are resources meant to help the children and families that have been affected by the loss of a loved one. Even if they do not die, but are hospitalized, lost their own home, and so much more. There are resources out there for families.
How often are first responders hurt/killed in action?
While many numbers differ each year, the fact still stands that our first responders can die while on the job. Whether they are an EMT, firefighter, or a police officer.
EMTs are killed due to vehicular accidents they incur while driving to their location, or from reckless drivers who do not see them until it is too late. Firefighters die from the flames, too much smoke filling their lungs, and possibly cancer if precautions are not taken. Police officers die from crossfire, targeted violence, and while protecting citizens.
These incidents are sadly more common than you think, they know the risks of their jobs, but they still do them to protect and serve their community. Take time to show appreciation for those in your community.
To learn how to best prepare and study for your firefighter exam click here.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.