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Firefighter vs. Nurse: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Firefighters and nurses are two important professions that help save lives. Though they have some similarities, there are several key differences between these careers. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between firefighters and nurses, and we provide helpful information for those interested in pursuing either profession.

What is a Firefighter?

Firefighters combat and extinguish fires, often working in high-pressure circumstances. They are also responsible for responding to and managing other emergencies, such as medical emergencies, hazardous materials spills and natural disasters. Many firefighters are responsible for providing fire prevention education to schools and local organizations. Firefighters typically work in shifts, with long days and nights, and are on call 24 hours a day.

What is a Nurse?

Nurses are responsible for providing direct patient care. They work closely with doctors and other health care professionals to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. Nurses may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes. They may also provide home health care or work as school nurses. Nurses typically work long hours, and they may be on call 24 hours a day.

Firefighter vs. Nurse

Here are the main differences between a firefighter and a nurse.

Job Duties

Firefighters and nurses have some similar job duties, such as administering first aid. However, firefighters’ primary duty is to fight fires, while nurses’ primary duty is to provide medical care. This means that a firefighter’s job can vary greatly from day to day, depending on the needs of their community. For example, a firefighter may perform search and rescue operations one day and teach fire prevention education the next. Nurses typically provide the same type of care for all of their patients, with little variation in their daily responsibilities.

Job Requirements

Firefighters typically need at least a high school diploma, although some departments may require an associate degree or higher. Many firefighters also pursue EMT certification before applying for a job. Some departments may provide training to become an EMT, but it is not always required. To become a nurse, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program. After graduating, you must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to earn your RN license. Some nurses also choose to pursue a master’s degree in nursing to specialize in a certain area or to advance their career.

Work Environment

Firefighters and nurses work in different environments. Firefighters typically work outdoors, often at night or during the day. They may travel to fires on foot or by vehicle. Nurses usually work indoors, but they may also travel to patients’ homes or other locations. Both professions can be physically demanding, requiring firefighters and nurses to lift heavy objects and perform strenuous activities.


Both firefighters and nurses need to have excellent communication skills. Firefighters need to be able to communicate with their team while they are on a call, as well as with the individuals or families they are assisting. Nurses also need to be able to communicate effectively, as they often work with patients who may be in pain or distress.

Both of these professionals need to have strong problem-solving skills. Firefighters need to be able to quickly assess a situation and determine the best course of action, while nurses need to be able to identify potential health concerns and develop a plan of care.

Firefighters need to be physically fit, as they often need to lift heavy objects, climb ladders and carry people. Nurses also need to be physically fit, as they may need to lift patients or assist them with moving around.

Nurses need to have a strong understanding of medical concepts and procedures, while firefighters need to have a strong understanding of fire safety concepts and procedures.


Firefighters can earn an average salary of $51,989 per year, while nurses can earn an average salary of $72,127 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the level of education you have, the state in which you work and the type of employer you work for.


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