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k3nnex
07-28-2009, 4:42 PM
Hey guys, I'm 22 years old and my life dream is to become a firefighter. However, in San Jose it is very competitive to land a firefighting job. I always liked the idea of becoming a cop.

Alright here is my background, tell me if you guys think I would be a likely candidate in the police force. I am 22 year old student at SJSU, I am currently finishing up my B.S. in business management. After I graduate SJSU I plan on finishing up my A.S. in Firefighting, as well as becoming a paramedic.

Currently I am an insurance broker. I am also an Eagle Scout, I have been in boy scouts for about 10-12 years and currently I am a Cub Scout leader.

I am Vietnamese, I can speak and read Vietnamese, I can't write though. I am 5'7" weighing at 170. During HS I was about 130 lbs, I was determined to bulk up and become a firefighter so I went to the gym and now I weigh a healthy 170lbs.

I have a clean record. No problems before or after high school. I have a clean driving record. However I have had my share of drug experimenting back in the days, I kicked all of it during my first semester in college.

Now that you have evaluated me, do you guys think I would be a good candidate for a PD or CHP? I am tired of office work and I would really like to do something more physical and more productive ;)

fullrearview
07-28-2009, 4:50 PM
Nope.....You have no chance.... Apply after I get hired full time:43:

j/k
sounds OK to me...Go on a few ride-a-longs with chp, police and sheriff to get a feel for the job. Try small and large departments.

k3nnex
07-28-2009, 4:56 PM
Do I need to go change my major or anything? I know SJSU offers a criminal justice program, however I was hoping I could just go around that.

fullrearview
07-28-2009, 5:08 PM
No...Some depts don't require a degree, some only require 30, 45, 60 units. Just having a degree will help a lot though. Again, do some ride-a-longs. Get the feel for it.

510shooter510
07-28-2009, 5:10 PM
Im waiting on the CHP eligible list now. Criminal Justice will help boost pay from what Im told. No need to change your major though. College shows your determination to better yourself and your willingness to work.
The drugs may actually be a good thing in the end. My lack of substance abuse was the most questioned item on my record. They almost expect you to have done drugs. Be completely honest and open with them and you should have no problems. Most of the weight will be on the personal interview anyway.

norcal-ar
07-28-2009, 5:26 PM
yeah the substance abuse is what i think would screw me up. i kind of smoked pot 1 time over a year ago after being clean for 4 years. my cousin was being deployed and he wanted to try it once before he went to war.

J_B
07-28-2009, 5:27 PM
Do some ride a longs at the agencies you would like to work for. Just don't drive up to sac county....we just let a bunch of people go and we have no money.

510shooter510: I was questioned endlessly about my lack of drug use during my Marine Corps enlistment as well as when I was in backgrounds for my current agency....it seems as if people think it's "weird" that this actually happens.

Dirtbiker
07-28-2009, 5:29 PM
Ask yourself why you really want to be a cop. If you are settling on being a cop over a firefighter you will soon hate the job. If you want to be a firefighter then do it and don't make excuses. Its harder to be a cop than to become a firefighter.

J_B
07-28-2009, 5:32 PM
Ask yourself why you really want to be a cop. If you are settling on being a cop over a firefighter you will soon hate the job. If you want to be a firefighter then do it and don't make excuses. Its harder to be a cop than to become a firefighter.

Or go Sunnyvale Public Safety or Rohnert Park Public Safety and do both!!

Fire in the Hole
07-28-2009, 5:42 PM
I'll assume that you want a no holds barred answer. LE is really really hard as a career. It will take from you. A Business Administration or Public Administration Degree is much more desireable that an Administration of Justice Degree. Asians are prime for recruitment. Sounds like you have all the background you need to make it to the top of the list. (I'm a Boyscout Master, and my two sons are Eagle Scouts.) Speaking a foreign language is a big plus.

Now for the candor. I wobbled between LE and Firefighting. I chose LE because I was interested in Forensics and shooting guns for free. I was also fresh out of the Army and rather let's just say, Gung-Ho, and aggressive. Plus the automatic state-wide CCW rights. I chose LE. If I had it to do all over again, with what I know now, I'd probably choose Firefighting. My son-in-law just got hired by Cal-Fire last week. I know how ridiculously competive Firefighting jobs are.

If I were you, I'd try to get on as a reserve, and test the waters. Find out if you really really like it or not, and keep your day job.

Jonathan Doe
07-28-2009, 5:43 PM
You want to be a police officer because you cannot be a firefighter? Not a good reason. Just don't tell that to your background investigator.

strangerdude
07-28-2009, 5:46 PM
Dude all you need to become a cop is a GED, If anything your over qualified.
One thing they do look for is employment history, drug use(marijuana is an exception), credit history, criminal record, references, and they talk to your neighbors to see if your a punk.

Hey guys, I'm 22 years old and my life dream is to become a firefighter. However, in San Jose it is very competitive to land a firefighting job. I always liked the idea of becoming a cop.

Alright here is my background, tell me if you guys think I would be a likely candidate in the police force. I am 22 year old student at SJSU, I am currently finishing up my B.S. in business management. After I graduate SJSU I plan on finishing up my A.S. in Firefighting, as well as becoming a paramedic.

Currently I am an insurance broker. I am also an Eagle Scout, I have been in boy scouts for about 10-12 years and currently I am a Cub Scout leader.

I am Vietnamese, I can speak and read Vietnamese, I can't write though. I am 5'7" weighing at 170. During HS I was about 130 lbs, I was determined to bulk up and become a firefighter so I went to the gym and now I weigh a healthy 170lbs.

I have a clean record. No problems before or after high school. I have a clean driving record. However I have had my share of drug experimenting back in the days, I kicked all of it during my first semester in college.

Now that you have evaluated me, do you guys think I would be a good candidate for a PD or CHP? I am tired of office work and I would really like to do something more physical and more productive ;)

Dirtbiker
07-28-2009, 5:47 PM
When I was a cop we used to have a saying. "Everybody loves a firefighter". I'll second the if I did it again I'd be a firefighter in a heartbeat.

Fire in the Hole
07-28-2009, 5:49 PM
Dude all you need to become a cop is a GED, If anything your over qualified.
One thing they do look for is employment history, drug use(marijuana is an exception), credit history, criminal record, references, and they talk to your neighbors to see if your a punk.

Whilst, I just had an AA, and was the lowest formally educated cadet in my class. Minimum performance standards is one thing. Making yourself more marketable than your competition is another.

k3nnex
07-28-2009, 6:08 PM
I plan on being a firefighter in the later future. It's just that competition is thick right now and I need a job ASAP. I have liked the idea of being a cop too, however I was more partial towards FF. A lot of people will agree that people love FF more than cops. I totally forgot about cal-fire, I will definitely look into that, CDF is usually easy to get into.

I want to be a ff, it's my dream. I don't even have to be paid, I might even settle as a volunteer.

I was a weed user for about 1 year, throughout my Sr year in HS. And I had about 7 ecstasy pills during that year as well. One of my neighbors like me, I'm not sure about the other one though haha. I grew up shooting paintball guns and bb guns behind the house. I don't think they liked me very much when i was a kid.

How long are these ride-alongs? I am still busy with work and school, I cannot spare an 8 hr day that easily.

Fire in the Hole
07-28-2009, 6:22 PM
Dear k3nnex, I see you have now added a few more details and caveats to your opening thread, of: "I want to be a police officer!"

Actually I'm pretty good at reading between the lines. And actually, you really don't.

Jonathan Doe
07-28-2009, 7:54 PM
If you want to be a police officer because you need a job, like I said earlier, it is not a job for you. You will not be happy, and you may make unnecessary mistakes which may jeopardize yourself or your partner. Do yourself a favor and find another job while you are waiting to become a fire fighter. I have been on for 23 years, and I am proud of my service.

eviioiive
07-28-2009, 8:04 PM
Are you sensitive and are your feelings easily hurt? = firefighter

1911su16b870
07-28-2009, 8:09 PM
Hey guys, I'm 22 years old and my life dream is to become a firefighter...

Follow your dream and keep trying and working until you become a firefighter.

I followed my dream and overcame adversity to become a cop. I love the job. There are moments when I feel so great about helping someone or an assignment only because it is what I want to do!

fullrearview
07-28-2009, 8:29 PM
Do some ride a longs at the agencies you would like to work for. Just don't drive up to sac county....we just let a bunch of people go and we have no money.

510shooter510: I was questioned endlessly about my lack of drug use during my Marine Corps enlistment as well as when I was in backgrounds for my current agency....it seems as if people think it's "weird" that this actually happens.

They only asked me once....But I explained to them why I have never used drugs and they didnt touch it again...

masameet
07-28-2009, 8:58 PM
Good info in this thread!

k3nnex
07-28-2009, 8:59 PM
I may have said something misleading, but when I decided on being a firefighter, my two options were a cop or a firefighter. I did originally consider becoming a cop. But yeahhh I'm still considering my options.

But I'm really sure I want to do something that doesn't require me sitting on my *** all day

M47_Dragon
07-28-2009, 9:24 PM
If being a FF is still going to be a goal in the future, but you are set on doing something cop-like in the meantime, I would suggest maybe a different type of law enforcement - maybe a Forrest/Park Ranger, Game Warden, etc.
Something like that will look good for a FF resume, especially if you are applying in a rural area or areas prone to brush/forrest fires.

ryang
07-28-2009, 10:05 PM
Any drug use other than grass is likely to be a problem. Of course it depends on the agency. I hear SCSO has pretty high standards, for example.

Physical ability may be overrated. Basic does a good job of getting people fit but it's all too easy to get way out of shape afterwards.

Intelligence is probably as underrated as physical ability is overrated. Everyone thinks about the physical stuff but the mental stuff is hard. Know and use over 2k penal/vehicle/h&s codes. Listen to the radio and nearby conversation at the same time. Know the streets better than the back of your hand and be able to remember physical descriptions of people you pass for at least five minutes after you pass by them. You will not realize how much mental stuff is required until you're in FTO and feel over your head.

Besides recent drug use your biggest stumbling block may be age and the relative lack of life experiences. There's a huge difference just going from early to late 20's. Again this varies by department but the pickier ones want to hire laterals because they've already proven they have the capability to be good officers.

Oh--I believe Bonny Doon and similar areas have volunteer firefighters. I don't know if their criteria is easier than paying jobs but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

alex00
07-29-2009, 4:25 AM
I would be concerned about your drug use history. It used to be that experimentation was Ok with marijuana, but "addiction" was not. Hard drug use was nearly an automatic disqualifier around the time I was hired 12 years ago. I hear the attitude of my department has changed, and many others have as well. Call whatever agency you are interested and ask about the hiring policy w/r/t drug use.

If you can't read and write well, learn. You will be graded in the academy on your report writing, and your FTO in the street will go over your reports looking for mistakes. We have sent a few trainees back to school to learn to write.

If firefighting is your goal, hold out for that. The training and commitment to LE is way too great to do as a place-holder waiting for your dream job. Your partners certainly won't appreciate the attitude that you are only doing the job until something better comes along. Unless your heart is in it, it will be very difficult to complete the academy, or show up for work everyday. The background and hiring process may take up to six months, and another six for the academy. You could be looking at a year from today before your first paycheck rolls in.

Just make sure you are doing this for the right reasons.

Dirtbiker
07-29-2009, 10:40 AM
I may have said something misleading, but when I decided on being a firefighter, my two options were a cop or a firefighter. I did originally consider becoming a cop. But yeahhh I'm still considering my options.

But I'm really sure I want to do something that doesn't require me sitting on my *** all day

One of my best friends is a Los Angeles fireman and I can tell you he doesn't sit on his a**. They do have their down time but when they are in the station they are maintaining their huge amount of equipment. If you like tools or gadgets become a fireman. The fire service can keep trucks and equipment in service for 20+ years due to the exhaustive maintenance schedule.

k3nnex
07-29-2009, 12:16 PM
I figured military or PD would be a great stepping stone to FF. Yeah I'm sure my fellow PD would not like hearing about my future thought of leaving them. But that can be our little secret.

Fire in the Hole
07-29-2009, 12:22 PM
I figured military or PD would be a great stepping stone to FF. Yeah I'm sure my fellow PD would not like hearing about my future thought of leaving them. But that can be our little secret.




You have to get over the notion of using LE as a stepping stone for firefighting. This would be like going through medical school, and becoming a Dr. while you waited for your first love of being a Pharmasist to open up.

Justin3
07-29-2009, 12:30 PM
Best way to figure out if you can be a cop....apply.
Go to the academy.
There are some colleges like Golden West that have the academy.

Check your local station and see when they are hiring as far as application dates.

Have you tested yourself physically to know you can pass the academy? There is a list of things they require you to do to pass the physical exam.

Meet people and talk to them.
Most departments have an open house every year. I know mine has one called Safety day and you can talk to a lot of cops there.

Join a police program, not Scouts.
Scouts are great but it doesnt get you closer to knowing anything about police work. You are too old to be an explorer, but that would have been great. Be a volenteer or apply for a part time non officer job.


And well if you want to be a firefighter, do it. How do you think firefighters become firefighters? They try to be one, not just decide to do the next thing closest to it.
Go to school and make sure your major is something accepted by the firedept. I think its like enviornment safety, not sure.
Go get CPR certified and other medical certifications. I believe all firefighters must be certified to a certain medical level. I forget the name but you can take a class to get certified.
Firedepts have explorer programs. And I think you are of age to do it. I remember seeing them and they were all around their twenties.

Getting a job with them might be hard but there are steps to becoming one that everyone else takes.

Patrick Aherne
07-29-2009, 10:53 PM
Go be a firefighter. Stay out of my profession if it's not a calling for you.

RolinThundr
07-30-2009, 1:28 AM
What matters most, IMO, is whether or not you really want the job. If you think you can enjoy the work and the lifestyle- and I understand it is a lifestyle change as well- then go for it. Check with recruiters about your drug history, most depts I've heard won't disqualify you for occasional use during HS, after 18yo you could run into problems...be very honest about it. I understand that a lot of people get disqualified because they weren't honest about drug use. Go on a ride-along and see if your local PD has a community police academy. Then make up your mind. I think you'll find that police opportunities are just as competitive as firefighting. You should have seen how many people there were at the physical test for SFPD a few weeks ago- I spent nearly two hours standing in line waiting for my turn to do the obstacle course.
Good luck!

Jonathan Doe
07-30-2009, 7:41 AM
You need certain dedication for this profession. I have trained enough recruits who decided to become a cop because they couldn't find other jobs out there, only to see so many of them drop out of the academy or quit later after they found out it is not for them. What a waste of time and effort on everyone involved, from recruitment to training.

If anyone out there who wants to be an LEO, they should think seriously before they decide. I enjoyed my career and got about 5 years left. How time flies when you have fun!

Lancear15
07-30-2009, 8:08 AM
Become an electrician, you'll make more money and you don't have all the stress of being a LEO. :thumbsup:

But, seriously you don't become a LEO just because you think you fit the bill and you need a job.

ilbob
07-30-2009, 10:58 AM
Become an electrician, you'll make more money and you don't have all the stress of being a LEO. :thumbsup:

But, seriously you don't become a LEO just because you think you fit the bill and you need a job.

A guy I know decided the other day he is becoming a cop.

He is currently an electrician and can't find work, and went through some kind of background check to work as a contractor for a cable TV company recently that somehow convinced him he should become a cop.

I don't really understand the story, having heard it 3rd or 4th hand, but I have met the guy and he seems completely unsuited for cop work. Someone told him the thing to do was pay for cop school himself because it would give him a better chance to get hired. I did not even know you could do that in Illinois.

Not as bad as the woman with 3 children under the age of 6 who is on the waiting list for several departments in the suburbs north of Chicago. I have no idea how she plans to deal with her children as her husband works rotating shifts.

Rob454
08-05-2009, 9:36 PM
You couldnt pay me enough to be a cop in this day and age. .

mecam
08-05-2009, 9:48 PM
You couldnt pay me enough to be a cop in this day and age. .

It's not about pay for many, it's the passion.

retired
08-05-2009, 10:03 PM
It's not about pay for many, it's the passion.

This.

mr.elite
08-06-2009, 3:12 PM
Dont give up trying to become a Fire Fighter. Your only 22, you still got time.

ryang
08-10-2009, 8:39 PM
You couldnt pay me enough to be a cop in this day and age. .
Reminds me of this poster:
http://www.crpoa.org/imgpop.php?imgsrc=poster

Calgunz420
08-11-2009, 9:35 PM
im completing my a.a for criminal justice and going into the juvenile probation field...thought about ff,medic,pd and c/o but i think probation officer and game warden would also be more my field...

nobody33
08-11-2009, 10:45 PM
I also was interested in both firefighting and police work. I got a degree in public administration, got went to EMT school, volunteer fire academy, and was a LE explorer. Being the police was the right choice for me, being an action junkie.

Firefighters have to wait for calls, most of which on the west coast are BS medical aids. Police can be proactive and make their own action. I'd still love to do firefighting.. but firemen these days are more in the health care industry than they are in the putting fires out industry. Which is pretty boring to me.

Fire in the Hole
08-11-2009, 10:57 PM
I also was interested in both firefighting and police work. I got a degree in public administration, got went to EMT school, volunteer fire academy, and was a LE explorer. Being the police was the right choice for me, being an action junkie.

Firefighters have to wait for calls, most of which on the west coast are BS medical aids. Police can be proactive and make their own action. I'd still love to do firefighting.. but firemen these days are more in the health care industry than they are in the putting fires out industry. Which is pretty boring to me.

Interesting point. I recently had a brief discussion with a local Fire Chief about this. His comments were that over the years Fire Dept.'s have done such a good job at educating the public about the need to clear dry brush around their homes, getting and maintaining fire and smoke alarms, keeping fire extingusihers immediately at hand, etc. This and the stricter building codes for overheard sprinklers in public and commercial buildings have greatly reduced fire calls in the last 30 years. The current term is "Fire and Rescue". Because if the rescue and EMS, part of their job description was removed, and they only actetd in the purist term of "Firefighters", they could not justify their existence.

Casual Observer
08-17-2009, 3:11 PM
As I am going through the hiring process right now myself, take my advice for what its worth.

Hiring opportunities for LEO aren't great right now either. True, more people tend to apply for FF, but budget cuts are felt throughout the state. To give you an idea, Long Beach- one of the largest departments in SoCal- is about 100 officers under strength and they are STILL planning on laying off another 30 or so. LAPD has frozen applicants in the process (although this might just be until there's a new chief of police), OC Sheriff's Department is on a hiring freeze as well.

The long and short- it's a "buyer's market" out there. Police departments can and must be picky. My brother's friend has a fire science degree, applied for a Police Department and got booted in the interview. PD's want people with life experience (having a steady job, military, etc.) as well as education. Your desire to be a firefighter isn't a bad thing, but it certainly doesn't help you against the guy who lives and breaths the desire to be a cop.

If your first passion is to be a FF- stick with that. In the meantime, become a reserve deputy or a non-sworn employee of a police department. Maybe the exposure will change your mind. But right now, as others have said, its a bad time to get into it if you're just looking for a paycheck.

bRiT636
08-26-2009, 1:54 PM
Lots of good info in this thread. I am waiting on my citizenship ( late next year before I can apply ) and would love an L.E career but I am 32 years old now and probably 34 before I could be hired. I am not worried at any of the physical tests just my age.
So I guess my question to any L.E.O would be, I have a Job at the moment but maybe I should be looking for a none sworn opportunity until then?
I have Eight years military service ( British Army/EOD ) so hopefully they will consider that even if its not U.S military. I wonder if that will affect there limited Background check that will be available to them?

Jonathan Doe
08-26-2009, 2:39 PM
Lots of good info in this thread. I am waiting on my citizenship ( late next year before I can apply ) and would love an L.E career but I am 32 years old now and probably 34 before I could be hired. I am not worried at any of the physical tests just my age.
So I guess my question to any L.E.O would be, I have a Job at the moment but maybe I should be looking for a none sworn opportunity until then?
I have Eight years military service ( British Army/EOD ) so hopefully they will consider that even if its not U.S military. I wonder if that will affect there limited Background check that will be available to them?

If you find a civilian position with the agency, at least you will carry the seniority into your career. It is not critical, however, the people within the agency will know you already when you apply for the position of an LEO. You may have a better chance to become an LEO.

bRiT636
08-28-2009, 9:32 AM
If you find a civilian position with the agency, at least you will carry the seniority into your career. It is not critical, however, the people within the agency will know you already when you apply for the position of an LEO. You may have a better chance to become an LEO.

thanks, I have just seen my local PD has an opening for an officer and they don't mention having to be a US citizen just a legal resident. They dont have any none-sworn positions at the moment but I am thinking I will go to the next neighborhood watch meeting and talk to a few officers.

bigger hammer
08-28-2009, 12:06 PM
my life dream is to become a firefighter

Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life. You've already made your decision.

glockshooter2
08-28-2009, 2:19 PM
I also wanted to be a firefighter...had my application in for years without a test because I wanted to do it in LA. I became a cop in LA for the same reason, and do not regret the choice. The bottom line is that they are both dangerous jobs. A lot of fireman I speak to know more than one friend who comes up with strange types of cancer or illnesses related to their job. Most cops have high blood pressure and heart issues due to poor diet and stress. Both jobs are rewarding and have their ups and downs. Fireman also deal with ****birds and have to go hands on also just like cops. I say.....get out of the office and do what you want. Once you make it through an academy, you probably won't want to give up your badge and gun...... IME

couz_taylor
09-08-2009, 11:42 AM
Do I need to go change my major or anything? I know SJSU offers a criminal justice program, however I was hoping I could just go around that.

NO!

You do not need a degree in criminal justice!
some departments require a total of 60 units in administration of criminal justice but you DO NOT NEED a bachelors or masters in criminal justice

those types of degrees can open doors for you in PD's but they are very limited
so unless your going to be a cop for the rest of your life or your going to eventually quit and be a lawyer
get your degree in something else, but try to maintain some interest in criminal justice through your transcripts. use the criminal justice programs as electives and use the rest of your time getting classes that go towards your degree

I know that you don't need this degree because I have met 2 chiefs of police who do not have a degree in that field, but rather business degrees
2 assistant chiefs to the DA's offices, who both do not have criminal justice degrees
and a federal agent who has a BACHELORS IN THE ARTs and ADVERTISEMENT
who is a 1811 (investigator) for a federal agency

couz_taylor
09-08-2009, 11:43 AM
Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life. You've already made your decision.

good point
it really is

bfoster
09-17-2009, 1:00 PM
People do really like firefighters better. Being a LEO is dangerous, dirty, stressful, and thankless. You'll never love, or hate, a job any more than if you become a LEO. If it's your calling, as it is mine, you can't get enough. The law suits, the public's disdain for you (unless they hear a bump in the middle of the night...and you have to come and clear their house while they quiver under the covers), and all that crap doesn't matter if you love it. But being a firefighter comes with several benefits that being a cop does not. Don't settle...being a cop will eat you alive if you aren't meant to do it.