What firefighters earn in every state

When an explosion, fire or disaster strikes, most people run away — but not firefighters. They run toward it.

Many firefighters describe their career choice as a “calling.” Take this well-known — and oft-quoted — statement from Edward F. Croker, the chief of the Fire Department of the City of New York from 1899 to 1911:

“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling. Our proudest moment is to save lives.”

Although firefighters are generally well-respected, the profession doesn’t always pay well.

The average annual wage for firefighters was $50,520 in May 2016, which is the most recent year for employment and wage statistics available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s not a bad wage. But while firefighters in some states have annual salaries topping $80,000, other firefighters are forced to scrape by on pay that hovers closer to minimum wage.

For example, some of the thousands of firefighters that have been battling recent blazes in California are getting paid just $10.50 an hour — California’s minimum wage, according to Money.

Here’s the average annual salary firefighters receive in all 50 states, starting with the lowest earners:

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Firefighter salaries in every state
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Firefighter salaries in every state

50. Mississippi: $31,430

Average hourly wage: $15.11

According to the BLS numbers, Mississippi’s firefighters are the lowest paid, on average, in the country.

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49. West Virginia: $32,200

Average hourly wage: $15.48

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48. Maine: $33,380

Average hourly wage: $16.05

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47. Louisiana: $33,530

Average hourly wage: $16.12

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46. Kentucky: $34,030

Average hourly wage: $16.36 

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45. North Carolina: $34,330

Average hourly wage: $16.51

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44. Utah: $34,340

Average hourly wage: $16.51 

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43. South Carolina: $34,760

Average hourly wage: $16.71 

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42. Minnesota: $34,770

Average hourly wage: $16.72 

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41. New Mexico: $35,200

Average hourly wage: $16.92 

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40. Georgia: $35,280

Average hourly wage: $16.96  

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39. Arkansas: $35,590

Average hourly wage: $17.11 

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38. Vermont: $36,860

Average hourly wage: $17.72 

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37. Kansas: $36,890

Average hourly wage: $17.73 

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36. Wisconsin: $37,300

Average hourly wage: $17.94 

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35. Idaho: $38,940

Average hourly wage: $18.72 

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34. Tennessee: $39,560

Average hourly wage: $19.02 

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33. Alabama: $40,450

Average hourly wage: $19.45 

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32. Iowa: $40,740

Average hourly wage: $19.59 

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31. Oklahoma: $42,490

Average hourly wage: $20.43 

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30. South Dakota: $43,060

Average hourly wage: $20.70 

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29. New Hampshire: $44,260

Average hourly wage: $21.28 

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28. Michigan: $44,590

Average hourly wage: $21.44 

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27. Ohio: $44,970

Average hourly wage: $21.62 

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26. Wyoming: $45,100

Average hourly wage: $21.68 

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25. Arizona: $45,230

Average hourly wage: $21.74 

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24. North Dakota: $45,330

Average hourly wage: $21.79 

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23. Delaware: $45,730

Average hourly wage: $21.99 

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22. Indiana: $46,620

Average hourly wage: $22.42 

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21. Montana: $49,310

Average hourly wage: $23.71 

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20. Virginia: $50,240

Average hourly wage: $24.15 

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19. Florida: $50,780

Average hourly wage: $24.41 

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18. Missouri: $50,940

Average hourly wage: $24.49 

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17. Texas: $51,230

Average hourly wage: $24.63 

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16. Colorado: $51,660

Average hourly wage: $24.84 

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15. Nebraska: $52,600

Average hourly wage: $25.29 

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14. Pennsylvania: $55,260

Average hourly wage: $26.57 

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13. Illinois: $55,460

Average hourly wage: $26.66 

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12. Rhode Island: $55,820

Average hourly wage: $26.84 

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11. Hawaii: $56,470

Average hourly wage: $27.15 

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10. Maryland: $58,100

Average hourly wage: $27.93 

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9. Alaska: $58,420

Average hourly wage: $28.09 

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8. Massachusetts: $59,650

Average hourly wage: $28.68 

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7. Connecticut: $61,730

Average hourly wage: $29.68 

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6. Nevada: $62,220

Average hourly wage: $29.91 

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5. Oregon: $62,530

Average hourly wage: $30.06 

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4. New York: $68,850

Average hourly wage: $33.10 

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3. Washington: $68,930

Average hourly wage: $33.14 

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2. California: $71,790

Average hourly wage: $34.52 

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1. New Jersey: $81,730

Average hourly wage: $39.30

With an average annual wage of more than $80,000, New Jersey firefighters take home the nation’s biggest firefighting paychecks.

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How do firefighters fare in your state? What do you think is a fair wage for this hazardous occupation? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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