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Develop Yourself in 2016

In the fire service it seems that there are more avenues of professional development than you could ever pursue. With the plethora of educational and advancement opportunities available it is easy to become paralyzed with overwhelm.  However, by clearly defining your career goals, a pathway of professional development will be revealed.  But, how do you find this path?  How can you clarify your career goals? Follow this 4 step plan for career advancement and success!


  1. Assess where you currently are, and where you want to be. What are your immediate and long term career goals?  What are the things that you want to accomplish? What impact do you want to leave on your community, your department, or within the industry?
  2. Determine what training is needed to achieve that goal. Sometimes this guidance is already provided (i.e, progression to Officer I classes are required by the state or per your department policies), other times guidance must be sought out. It is my regular practice to sit down with my chief and discuss my near career goals, and my long term professional ambitions. I do this two times a year (December and June). This is an opportunity for me to receive insight in areas that I need to improve upon, and to get guidance on the next steps that I should take to accomplish my career goals. Once you are clear on this then you know what certifications or classes that you should sign up for. Check out our on-line course offerings: FireETraining –
  3. Read at least one book this year. Statistics say that 90% of Americans will not read one whole book in a year. Just completing one book will place you in the top 10% of all Americans. Select at least one book related to your career and professional goals, divide it up into easy to read sections, read one section per day to completion (i.e., 10 pages/day for 1 month, finish a 300 page book). Don’t know what to read? Start here: 2015 Year End Reading List –
  4. Attend 3 conferences or professional development events. These can be single day training classes, local or national conferences,or technical code/committee meetings.  Registration costs for some of this can be expensive.  If cost is a factor, search out local opportunities.  Alternatively, if you apply to be a presenter at many of these conferences, then the registration fee will be waived. How to choose the best conferences: Choosing Conferences –
  5. Start Taking Classes.


Do not wait for your department or someone else to pay for or invest in your professional development.  Set your goals, create a plan to achieve that goal, then simply follow your career ‘roadmap’.