What's your goal? A degree or a badge? What's the shortest distance between you and that infamous badge? How long do you want to wait to be able to ride the big red thing and puff your chest out with a badge?
People forget how hard it is to get this job once they're hired. Seems like everyone that gets hired becomes an instant expert how it happened.
When I wrote take the poison early I meant there is an army or firefighter candidates out there with degrees, certificates, every merit badge you can imagine, and academies. Is this enough to get a badge? For every firefighter job there are 500-800 candidates.
Yes, I believe in education. But in the more than 100 oral boards I have served on, I have seen too many candidates who have been educated beyond their intelligence. They've missed the point they're applying for a snotty nose rookie position, not Chief of department. They tend to over intellectualize their answers in the oral board. Try to give you a blue print answer when you just need a sketch. Give you a dump truck when all you need is a trailer answer.
I have a fire science degree. Although I had some classes before I was hired, I continued my education (this can be one of your reasons why you want this job in the oral board) after I got the badge. Our department had an education incentive program. I retired with 5% added on because of my degree. They PAID me to go.
Eighty percent of the job offerings are for fire/medic. For every fire/medic job there are only 20 candidates; not 500-800. Which odds do you like? Where can you get the most badge for you investment? Too many lose hope in waiting for that ultimate phone call.
Three of my candidates were hired recently. One had been fired by another department. Another at 44 years old was the absolute worst candidate I have ever had to work with. The third had not one but two DUI's. What did they all have in common? Medic!
I attended a badge ceremony last year for a large city. I was one of the first to arrive in the auditorium. As I walked around, I noticed a velvet-covered box on a table. As I looked in the box, there looking back were 32 shinny new badges. Twelve of those were going to my candidates. Proud? You bet. To be a part of the change in someone's life is a wonderful feeling. To watch loved one's pin those badges after all the challenges it took to get to this point brought tears to many. Yours truly included. This is the real deal.
With cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and LA City now scambling with other agencies to drop residency requirements and minority hiring because they can't recruit enough medics, it doesn't take much education to see where the badges are going.
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!" Ask Dan
Fire "Captain Bob" Smith has coached countless entry level and promotional candidates to get their badge. He is a retired 28-year Hayward, Ca. Captain, speaker/author of the audio/video program "Conquer the Job Interview," the books "Eat Stress For Breakfast" ISBN 09657620-3-3, "Fire Up Your Communication Skills" ISBN 09657620-6-8 and a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association. You can book him as a speaker or get a copy of his books and tapes by calling toll free at 888-238-3959.