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Recognizing first responders on National First Responders Day

October 27, 2023

October 28 is National First Responders Day, recognizing workers such as police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and paramedics. Let’s take a look at BLS data for workers who are first on the scene in an emergency or crisis.

Employment in first responder occupations, by ownership, May 2022
Ownership Police and sheriff's patrol officers Firefighters Emergency medical technicians First-line supervisors of police and detectives Paramedics First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers

Private sector

6,490 22,580 117,260 1,340 55,640 3,370

Federal executive branch and U.S. Postal Service

12,570 7,550 0 6,100 0 1,450

State government

69,620 12,270 1,860 17,900 850 1,920

Local government

567,200 279,050 48,600 106,530 38,940 77,320

Police and sheriff’s patrol officers, with employment of 655,890 in May 2022, was the largest first responder occupation, followed by firefighters (321,450) and EMTs (167,720). Most paramedics (58 percent) and EMTs (70 percent) were employed in the private sector. The remaining first responders were employed mainly in the public sector, primarily in local government. The percentage of public sector employment for these workers ranged from 93 percent of firefighters to 99 percent of both police and sheriff’s patrol officers and first-line supervisors of police and detectives. Most private sector police and police supervisors were campus police in private colleges, universities, and professional schools.

Annual mean wages for first responder occupations, all ownerships, private sector, and public sector, May 2022
Occupation All ownerships Private sector Public sector

Police and sheriff's patrol officers

71,380 56,780 71,530

Firefighters

56,310 38,070 57,690

Emergency medical technicians

40,120 38,600 43,640

First-line supervisors of police and detectives

99,410 77,540 99,630

Paramedics

53,560 52,030 55,710

First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers

84,810 63,050 85,720

Note: Annual mean wage data are in U.S. dollars.

The highest paying first responder occupations were the two types of first-line supervisors: first-line supervisors of police and detectives, with an annual mean wage of $99,410, and first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers, who earned $84,810 per year. The lowest paying first responder occupations were EMTs ($40,120) and paramedics ($53,560). All of the occupations were paid more in the public sector than in the private sector, with the differences generally larger for police and firefighter occupations. For example, first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers earned $22,670 more and firefighters earned $19,620 more on average in the public sector, while the wage difference for paramedics was $3,680.

These data are from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program. For more information, see the May 2022 OEWS national data and national data by private sector and public sector ownership. The OEWS data are based on a survey of business establishments and cover full- and part-time employees who are paid a wage or salary. The sum of employment by ownership may differ from total employment in an occupation because of rounding.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Recognizing first responders on National First Responders Day at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/recognizing-first-responders-on-national-first-responders-day.htm (visited July 25, 2024).

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