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Between the COVID-19 pandemic, more intense hurricanes, and ongoing wildfires impacting the western U.S., first responders are being challenged more than ever. While first responders are on the front lines during emergencies and face more danger than most people do in their occupations, they don’t earn much more. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these workers earn an average annual wage of $60,292, or about $4,000 more than the average across all occupations.
First responders generally include emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, firefighters, and police officers. Among these occupations, police officers earn the most, on average, with an average annual wage of $70,000. Firefighters earn $56,360 per year, on average, while EMTs and paramedics earn just $40,370 annually. EMTs are often paid less for several reasons. For one, emergency medical services (EMS) departments are allocated just a fraction of the funds that police and fire departments receive. And, becoming a firefighter or police officer tends to require more training than becoming an EMT, which only involves around 150 hours for starting positions.