Job Prospects... At a glance
The chances of getting a job as a firefighter are limited, due to the large number of applicants for the relatively small number of vacancies. The New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) recruits twice a year, filling 48 positions each time. NZFS receives up to 600 applications each intake.
Many firefighters have had a previous career before being accepted for training, so prospects are particularly limited for school leavers.
Firefighters work to reduce the number and consequences of fires. They educate the public about fire safety and prevention. They also respond to emergency calls, controlling and putting out fires to protect life and property.
They may also respond to vehicle crashes and hazardous substance spills, and urban search and rescue callouts.
Firefighters do not only work for the New Zealand Fire Service. They also work for the New Zealand Defence Force, the Department of Conservation, the Rural Fire Force, the Airport Fire Brigade, and the Industrial Fire Brigade.
Their tasks may include:
For entry into the New Zealand Fire Service, NCEA Level 1 English and Mathematics may be helpful to pass pre-entry testing to become a firefighter. Applicants will also need to pass:
They must also undergo an interview, and reference and Police background checks.
Once accepted into the New Zealand Fire Service, entrants complete a 12-week training course, which involves theory and practical training. Regular training sessions are provided for fire fighters, and many Fire Service courses are linked to NZQA unit standards. Qualifications that have been available through EMQUAL – the Emergency Management Qualifications Industry Training Organisation are now available through The Skills Organisation. The Royal NZ Air Force also provides training as a firefighter, which requires you to enter basic military training before being accepted onto their firefighter-training programme.
See The Skills Organisation: skills.org.nz
Firefighters' pay varies with experience, responsibilities and performance. New firefighters usually earn about $43,000 a year. Firefighters with more than two years' experience can earn from $52,000 to $61,000. Senior station officers can earn from $62,000 to $77,000 per year. Firefighters also receive allowances for doing overtime.
In 2019, the average income for fire and emergency workers was estimated to be around $78,800.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
The number of New Zealand Fire Service firefighters is maintained at around 1,700, as retired or promoted personnel get replaced by new fire-fighters.
The total number of firefighters in New Zealand was 2,088 at the time of the 2013 census.
Usually, firefighter positions are not advertised. Applicants must register online and are notified when vacancies are being filled. The New Zealand Fire Service accepts applications through their website (www.fire.org.nz) and has two intakes each year (March and September).
There are good prospects for career progression. Firefighters have opportunities to move into managerial positions.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level firefighters.
More information on firefighters is available on the Careers New Zealand website, through the "Just the Job" videos and through the New Zealand Fire Service.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
New Zealand Fire Service: www.fire.org.nz
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Fire Investigator
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Fire Protection
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Fire Risk Management
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Firefighting with the NZ Fire Service
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Volunteer Firefighter
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Volunteer Rural Firefighter
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Emergency Response
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of firefighters has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:
441212 – Fire Fighter