What is it Like to be a Firefighter

To fully grasp the lifestyle of a firefighter, you have to think of the occupation on a level that you might be more familiar with. Last September, my students and I delivered breakfast items to a local fire station where we were able to visit with and express our appreciation of some of the heroes working close to home. They were so thankful and willingly showed their gratitude by giving my students a tour of their station as well as some of the equipment, and of course, the fire trucks. I couldn’t have wiped the smiles off my 7th graders’ faces even if I wanted to! They were so intrigued by all the equipment and the daily routine of people who save lives for their career.

The work schedule was one of the benefits that the firefighters seemed to like best. As a firefighter, you would stay a certain number of nights in your fire station with your fellow firefighters, waiting and preparing for calls of varied natures to respond to. Then, they spend a number of days off where they get to rest at home and spend time with family and friends.

If you ask any firefighter, they would be very likely to tell you that the life of a firefighter is never put “on hold” just because you have days off. However, they would also tell you without hesitation that they wouldn’t want days off from a career that is so fulfilling.

To become a firefighter is already one of the most courageous careers an individual can pursue, but it is also comparable to joining a big family. A family solely focused on putting others first, and running in when everyone else is trying to run out.

Daily Work as a Firefighter

The job of a firefighter is defined by the ability to fight and deplete fires in homes, businesses, and environments of varied sorts. Also, if disaster strikes, firefighters are there to make sure that everyone involved is safe, and provide additional medical attention that might be needed.

Firefighters are also expected to not only protect lives, but to also protect property and avoid damages involving either. As a firefighter, you would also participate, enforce, and evaluate preventive activities and practices within your fire house, as well as for different families, businesses, and communities. Maintaining the cleanliness and efficiency of your designated fire station to ensure timely proficiency is something that firefighters work together to achieve, because it can be difficult to respond to emergencies quickly if it is a challenge to leave the station in a timely manner.

Another aspect of this occupation is that you get to participate in the development of public education, including information on fire safety and handling procedures for situations where a firefighter is needed. Going into schools and businesses, or speaking at public events, you are able to interact with students, parents, and employees about how to stay safe when the unexpected happens.

Not only are you a selfless hero of epic proportions, but you are passing on the knowledge you have to those in the community around you, making them better with every lesson.

Working Conditions for a Firefighter

  • Works both indoors and outdoors depending on circumstances
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures, depending on assigned tasks during emergency situations
  • Extreme noise levels and stimulations (sirens, lights, etc.)
  • Exposed to some hazards such as driving hazards, rescue attempts and difficult terrain. The possibility of hazardous material spills. Firefighters might be exposed to exhaust fumes, heat, smoke, water, dusts, fire retardant chemicals, and toxic fumes

This list shouldn’t scare you because you get trained on how to mitigate accidents as well as how to handle them if they were to unavoidably occur.

Physical Performance – Strength, Endurance, and Speed

As we’ve discussed so far, the daily work of a firefighter is nothing shy of extraordinary. And where there is “extraordinary”, hard work, discipline, and sacrifice stand behind it. From a daily career like this, it is impossible for a working woman like you to be absent from feeling empowered beyond your wildest dreams. Women one hundred years ago would have jumped for an opportunity such as this, and here it is, within our reach.

Job Requirements for Firefighters

Effective communication skills will take you far in whichever dream you decide to chase. Along with that, having the ability to be an effective, helpful, and encouraging team player in all circumstances is priceless, especially those where stress and adrenaline have a tendency to take control.

Whichever state you decide to work in as a firefighter, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. Most of the time, firefighters beginning their careers won’t exceed the ages of anywhere from 28 to 35. Not to say that those limits can’t be broken, but it’s the average age of firefighters because the physical requirements of the job as well as the fundamental need for physical excellence.

Being a firefighter requires at the very minimum a high school diploma or GED, and highly encourages EMT certification as well as a secondary degree in fire science. Upon being hired as a firefighter, all applicants are required to pass a physical ability test that includes tasks such as the stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise and extension, forcible entry, search, rescue, ceiling breach and pull.

Part of being a visible hero in a community is holding yourself accountable to the tremendously honorable position that you hold. Most fire station jobs will monitor things that you post on social media, as well as things like your credit score to ensure that they are hiring a wise and responsible citizen. Fire stations, as well as any number of employers, will respect individuals that take ownership of any mistakes they have ever made as long as they also commit to being a better version of themselves.

Men and women striving to be firefighters must also pass the written exam that is included in the hiring process. Thankfully, there are a lot of test taking practices and exercises available to help you feel more comfortable and prepared for success.

If you are an even-tempered and emotionally intelligent person, being a firefighter is a fulfilling career where you will be tested, but the rewards are more than could ever be expressed in one blog post. Being the hero to someone in need might not be a cakewalk, but someone out there needs the heart that you have. Also, if you or someone who knows you well would characterize you as a fast-learner, this is the perfect career for you.

Above all else, the heart and attitude of a firefighter is the number one thing that stations are looking for. When you’re in the business of saving lives, there can’t be any exceptions within that area.

Resources/Benefits of Field Experience

As we have mentioned countless times here on Career Talk with Working Women, and will continue to mention for all of our posts and podcasts to come, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to VOLUNTEER.

One thing about firefighting is that they encourage and accept any form of volunteering as “experience”. Work in any area within your community, whether it’s fire related or not, and fire stations appreciate all of it. As I also mentioned earlier, look into taking extra credits/ classes that will contain useful and practical information that will prove beneficial to you as you dive further into the pool of fire safety.

Licensing Required for Firefighters

  • High school diploma or GED
  • EMT certification
  • Additional education in related field
  • Pass written exam
  • Pass physical ability exam

Make sure to research the fire station you want to work at and the state you want to be employed in. Sometimes the requirements and licensing are different or have more that they request.

Salary and Employment Outlook for Firefighters

As it is with any career choice, it’s always wise to not only consider the lifestyle and the job requirements, but it is also prudent to research the information regarding salary and employment.

When I took my students to the fire station, the first question they all wanted to ask was how much the firefighters make. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting this information– the only logical way to make an educated decision is through genuine inquiries such as these.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary average for firefighters is $50,520 with a mean average wage of over $24 an hour. The highest employment rates of firefighters are found within local governments, followed by support services, and then with the Federal Executive Branch.

This is notable because that means you can potentially work under a variety of employers and you can serve a number of purposes within those communities. At the top of the employment averages in the United States are California, Texas, with Florida in third. And if you are like me, then it might not come across as much of a surprise to know that there are higher percentages of employed firefighters in metropolitan areas as opposed to non-metropolitan areas.

How to Get Hired as a Firefighter

One of the first steps that should be taken when pursuing the road to fighting fires and saving lives should be to speak with a local firefighter.

Here on Career Talk with Working Women, we have provided firsthand information from a working woman who fights fires for a living, and that will pose as an excellent resource for real information from a real hero. You can listen to the episode where we interview Michelle Vasquez-Herrera here.

Also, don’t be afraid to go out into your local fire stations or departments and ask to speak with and interview firefighters working in your community. Most firefighters are more than willing to speak with people, especially those aspiring to the career. Also, be aware of the fact that each state and firehouse could have different criteria expected from their applicants, so professionals say that speaking with the fire station you want to work for is the optimum thing to do for qualifications and certifications.

Lastly, it is crucial to prepare yourself for the interview. Interviews are pivotal for all career paths, but it is imperative that you contemplate the different questions in order to present genuine and thoughtful responses for this specific career. Sites such as Fire Rescue 1 and Fire Science provide resources for ground work such as this.

Don’t forget to listen to the weekly podcast to hear directly from working women on their careers, work-life balance, and advice for young women. Listen to an interview with Firefighter Engineer Michelle Vasquez-Herrera who is a certified Firefighter. Subscribe to the podcast, and share it with your friends.

Safety Consultant

What is it like to be a Safety Consultant

According to the Department of Labor, the career of a Safety Consultant is to ensure the verification of a safe, healthy, and effective work environment for employers and their employees alike. When businesses and companies hire Safety Consultants, they are seeking people with hearts full of care, and minds full of information.

Listen to an Expert

Safety Consultants, like Liz Foott who we interviewed in Episode 003 of the podcast, are the members of society that evaluate, review, and then analyze the safety of current work environments for various businesses or companies. Then they use that information to create programs and procedures that will control, eliminate, and prevent potential diseases or injuries that could be caused by chemical, physical, biological, and/or employee efficient factors.

Daily Work as a Safety Consultant

Depending on the services requested from employers, Safety Consultants conduct inspections, as well as enforce company and business adherence to laws and regulations concerning the health and safety of individuals. These are the workers engaging with a number of different fields and businesses in order to make sure that every criterion created to fulfill safe and healthy work environments for employees are being met.

According to EKU Online, Safety Consultants provide businesses or companies with customized strategies that ensure the maintenance of a state of preparedness for reviews conducted by regulatory agencies, as well as achieve a level of quality and service that actually exceed regulatory requirements. They are in charge of conducting hazard surveillance of patient care areas as well as industrial businesses routinely. They also prepare summaries that will be presented towards corrective action to be established.

The Safety Consultant for a site coordinate, conduct, and analyze the performance of fire drills in employer areas, both industrial and business. They also provide inspections of injuries and analyses for those reports to file for company records.

Consultants prepare summaries of analysis from inspection of overall company effectiveness, and then provide employers with recommendations for potential improvement. They are in charge of advising and then assisting with implementing emergency preparedness along with the safety management within departments and staff throughout the business.

There are certain policies, procedures, and guidelines that comply with objectives in order to ensure organizational success, including clear communication with contractors and employers, and Safety Consultants develop these for businesses that request their services.

The job typically operates during regular hours during the week, however, emergencies can cause an irregularity of hours and/or workload, as well as the possibility of travel, depending on your role in the company you work for.

Job Requirements for Safety Consultants

First and foremost, Safety Consultants must maintain a full understanding of how the work environment can be affected by ergonomics, toxicology, and industrial hygiene. Safety Consultants must also remain courteous to the effect that efficiency and industrial hygiene play in workplace success.

The ability to participate in, and work collaboratively and creatively in special project teams, as well as communicate effectively with colleagues, employers, and businesses and corporations are invaluable skills for a working woman in any and every style of career. Depending on your employment position, you might need to be equipped to provide training sessions that cover safety procedures and regulations.

There are certain working conditions that a Safety Consultant is routinely exposed to and should be taken into consideration when choosing this career. Because of the nature of the career, Safety Consultants can experience moderate exposure to chemicals, equipment and/or materials that are potentially dangerous. This being said, employers will expect basic safety precautions to be taken with every job.

Every year, Safety Consultants are required to take certain health tests to avoid any possibility of illness or injury, which is beneficial for employees because your health and safety are essential.

Education Requirements for Safety Consultants

As far as education requirements are concerned on your road to becoming a successful Safety Consultant, you should obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in a related discipline, but it is not necessarily a requirement. Additional safety certifications can be earned and serve to strengthen your understanding of the role. These certifications can be found at However, as it goes for most working women, field experience is the motor that commences the engine to your career.

Resources/Benefits of Field Experience

As it is in most careers, experience within the field that you are hoping to become involved or employed in is essential to exponential success as a Safety Consultant. For most employers looking to hire Safety Consultants, they require a minimum of 3 years of directly related experience. Depending on the location of your career, bilingualism is of high value because you can extend your communication horizons across services you provide, especially if you travel for work.

You must also maintain the necessary knowledge in order to keep up to date with regulations and standards, such as OSHA regulations, DOT and EPA storage handling, use/disposal of hazardous and infectious waste, PHMSA compressed gas regulations, or regulations regarding fire safety. If physical health and activity is something you enjoy dedicating time to, Safety Consultants utilize physical ability as well as their mental muscles, too. Safety Consultants might occasionally be expected to exert anywhere between 20 and 50 pounds of force.

Licensing Required for Safety Consultants

In every state, Safety Consultants can be professionally licensed online or through certain classes offered in various locations across the country. To be a licensed Safety Consultant, you must become a Certified Healthcare Safety Professional, or it can be obtained within one year of being hired. All of this information will help you prepare for the jobs and expectations of Safety Consultants.

Salary and Employment Outlook for Safety Consultants

With an RSE ( of .4%, the mean annual salary of a Safety Consultant average at $72,480, with a mean wage just shy of $35 an hour. Keep this in mind: these numbers are the mean averages of higher and lower wages and salaries. There is an average of 76,630 Safety Consultants employed throughout the United States, which should be wildly encouraging to you as working women.

The highest employment levels for Safety Consultants are found within the Federal Executive Branch, Local Government, and the State Government. However, the highest concentration for employment of Safety Consultants deal with Waste Treatment/Disposal, then Oil and Gas Extraction, and Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing.

The highest paying employment opportunities available for Safety Consultants exist in Oil and Gas Extraction, followed by Pipeline Transportation, then Scientific Research and Development Services with salaries averaging between $88,060 to $93,730. These jobs provide the highest compensation because the work of a Safety Consultant within those businesses and companies is imperative.

  • States with the highest employment level, as of 2016:
    • Texas
    • California
    • Ohio
  • States with the highest annual wage average:
    • District of Columbia
    • North Dakota
    • Rhode Island

There is also a higher employment rate in metropolitan areas than there are in rural areas, yet there is still a great need for the services that Safety Consultants provide on a world-wide scale. The work and servitude that you can exert as a Safety Consultant can dramatically impact the success of businesses and companies, and that work is priceless.

How to Get Hired as a Safety Consultant

Thankfully, opportunities for employment as a Safety Consultant exist in the public and private sectors, whichever you prefer. When you visit job search engines like Glassdoor, searching for jobs using terms like “Safety Consultant” or “Safety Professional” and then search location in order to not only find where jobs exist but also to find out where you can become a certified Safety Consultant. Also, keep a record of any and all field experience that you participate in because it will all prove to be worthwhile and be valuable to any employers in search of Safety Consultants.

Don’t forget to listen to the weekly podcast to hear directly from working women on their careers, work-life balance, and advice for young women. Episode 003 is an interview with Liz Foott who is a certified Safety Consultant. Subscribe to the podcast, and share it with your friends.

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

What’s it like to be a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor is so much more than becoming a doctor of all trades; it’s about making a difference in the individual lives you touch.  It’s about being that difference that can change the course of their life for the better.

If you are interested in becoming a therapist, there is some information you need to know. How much education is required and how much extra is suggested, what is the daily life like, how much can you craft what your work-life balance looks like and how much is set in stone?

I of all people can understand that the title for this occupation can seem intimidating with words like “licensed” and “professional” in it, but what power does intimidation have for a working woman? None that a little information can’t fix!

Daily Work as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

The work of a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) includes diagnosing and treating various mental disorders, learning disabilities, as well as cognitive, behavioral, developmental, and emotional “problems”.  This can be accomplished through a number of therapy styles such as individual, group, and family-based for patients ranging from children to adults, and all ages in between.

This is one of the most beautiful careers available for women because it gives an opportunity to work where your heart is. You have the chance to work with children, teenagers, adults, and/or seniors– whatever age and need you find your interests drawn to!

As in any medical field, LPCC’s are trained and taught to implement different behavior and routine modifications to accommodate the varying needs and lifestyles of the patients they work with.  That means that not only are you licensed to provide help for your patients based on prior education and overall clinical intelligence that you receive, but you get to be creative as well.  As with any job, the requirements can depend on where you decide to practice your profession, but as long as you understand that what you’re doing is making a difference, the hard work will never compare to the reward you see.

But of course, as a fellow working woman, I can understand that the job description is only half of the deal.  I can ease any premature, yet totally understandable, distress that might have come to your mind about employment percentages, as well as compensation averages.  On your road to becoming an LPCC, we’ll first talk about the requirements and expectations for professionals within this occupation.

Job Requirements for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors

The majority of health offices or districts that hire LPCC employees require that applicants have a master’s degree from an accredited university in Counseling, Social Work, Psychology, or other related mental health disciplines with a concentration in health practice and/or clinical experience. The priceless benefit of attending a university and knowing what direction/concentration you want your degree to be in is that you can start looking at clinics, practitioner’s offices, schools, and hospitals near you that can coordinate an internship-style program for you while you obtain your degree.

In an interview with LPCC Claire Ann Johnson, she notes how important the hands-on time can be and how invaluable volunteering is to identifying the right path for your career. She says to find a mentor willing to share their knowledge and expertise and to research all the different ways you can craft both the education and experience piece as well as the daily job itself.

Resources/ Benefits of Field Experience

When people encourage you to utilize the resources around you, that doesn’t just mean the internet.  While the internet is an invaluable resource (obviously), start to think about the professors in the department of your degree; don’t ever be afraid to talk with people and ask them about different opportunities that they, or their colleagues, might know of.

Also, don’t shy away from a related experience just because you hear or see the words “volunteer” or “unpaid”.  Everyone understands that people have bills and responsibilities that require money, but when an employer is perusing your application and another, you’re going to want yours to show field- related experience.

Experience is also of valuable consideration because working in a similar environment, or a number of related settings, will increase your confidence in the dream you have chosen to pursue.  Think of it like when you go to ice cream establishments: employees are always willingly offering the opportunity for you to sample any flavor that you think looks good, because you want to make sure your taste buds can manage it for an entire bowl or cone.  Gaining experience for a potential lifestyle is a similar concept.

Licensing Required for Therapists

The last requirement that we will talk about is licensure and certification to be an LPCC.  Depending on which state you plan to practice in, you can find out the procedure to gaining your Professional Clinical Counseling license and certificate that indicates you are authorized to practice Clinical Counseling in that state.  There are a number of websites to find the courses and policies required for each state, but here is an example of a really simple site that has a list of the states for you to choose from and then see their specific requirements along with how and where to meet those requirements:

Salary and Employment Outlook for Clinical Counselors

Now let’s talk a little bit about employment percentages and annual salary averages for LPCC’s.  With an RSE (the Relative Standard Error of the employment estimate; of 1.4%, the mean hourly wage is marked at a little over $37 an hour, showing a mean annual salary of $78,690 with a wage RSE of .7%.  I don’t want you to misunderstand; these numbers are the mean averages of higher and lower wages and salaries. We’ll talk shortly about how location and occupation concentration have an effect on most of the  numbers we’re going to look at.

Joining the LPCC community would mean being a part of a family that is estimated at 107,980 professionals employed through this occupation not including those self- employed.  As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of environments that are in need of working women like you, and the averages for employment are the highest within elementary and secondary schools, followed by working in an office with other related health practitioners.  There are so many resources at your disposal to gather information, so for now we’re going to move onto the effect that location has on becoming an LPCC.

Map of the US annotating where the greatest employment of mental health professionals, clinical counselors, are as of May 2016
Employment of Mental Health Counselors, BLS 2016


There are a number of Northeastern states with a higher employment rate of LPCC’s, along with Florida, Colorado, Texas, and California.  However, there is a higher concentration of jobs and locations seeking LPPC’s in Northwestern states, as well as New York and Hawaii.

The states that pay LPCC’s the highest average hourly wage are scattered across the U.S.  New Jersey and South Dakota  are the nation’s leaders in salary, followed closely by California, New York, and Oregon.  Hopefully this serves as an anticipative bit of information; whether you feel rejuvenated on a coast, or love the calm outdoor life on the plains, there is a need for you almost everywhere! Metropolitan districts of cities and states are in high demand for LPCC employees, but of course there are opportunities in numerous divisions. The need for licensed counselors ranges all across metropolitan and more rural locations, as well.

How to Get Hired as a Clinical Counselor

Once you have the requisite education and experience, you’ll need to keep your resume up to date. There are a plethora of resume writing resources.  The one that I found to be the most helpful is LiveCareer.  Not only do they provide tips and effective formatting, but they also simplify the resume writing process, taking into consideration the specific profession of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors.

Additional Resources used for the information in this article include: Simply Hired, Indeed and Glassdoor are the top search engines with results for LPCC’s.

Don’t forget to listen to the weekly podcast to hear directly from working women on their careers, work-life balance, and advice for young women. Episode 002 is an interview with Claire Ann Johnson, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who uses horses as her therapy partners. Subscribe to the podcast, and share it with your friends.