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Here’s How Much First Responders Make in Every State

Jordan Rosenfeld

American society relies on its first responders in times of uncertainty and danger, from personal crises to natural disasters. However, these people aren’t always well compensated for putting their lives on the line, a new GOBankingRates study revealed.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, GOBankingRates ranked the pay rates for emergency medical technicians and paramedics, firefighters, and police officers among all 50 states. While police officers make just over six figures in California, they earn less than $36,000 annually in Mississippi — a staggering difference of more than $65,000 per year, on average. Similarly, the average salary for firefighters remains lower than that of police officers, even though both professions deal with life-threatening situations.

The intensive training required of first responders isn’t always reflected in their wages, either. EMTs and paramedics must complete postsecondary education and a licensing exam before they can begin their physically strenuous and emotionally stressful jobs. Firefighters need to train at a certified fire academy, undergo physical and written tests, pass interviews and acquire an EMT certification. And, police officers are required to meet rigorous personal and physical standards to qualify for their positions, on top of earning at least a high school diploma and attending a training academy.

Overall, EMTs and paramedics, firefighters and police officers face some of the worst injury and illness rates of all occupations. All first responders deserve to be paid well for their work — but much of that depends on the state in which they live.

50. Mississippi

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,310
  • Police annual wage: $35,550
  • Firefighter annual wage: $30,370

49. Arkansas

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $31,800
  • Police annual wage: $39,560
  • Firefighter annual wage: $37,800

48. Kentucky

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $31,430
  • Police annual wage: $45,600
  • Firefighter annual wage: $33,520

47. Louisiana

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,930
  • Police annual wage: $41,550
  • Firefighter annual wage: $30,600

46. West Virginia

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $30,690
  • Police annual wage: $43,590
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,820

45. South Carolina

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,570
  • Police annual wage: $42,280
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,300

44. Kansas

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $30,520
  • Police annual wage: $48,350
  • Firefighter annual wage: $37,930

43. Georgia

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,950
  • Police annual wage: $42,990
  • Firefighter annual wage: $38,060

42. Alabama

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $30,260
  • Police annual wage: $45,930
  • Firefighter annual wage: $41,740

41. Maine

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,170
  • Police annual wage: $49,840
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,750

40. North Carolina

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,200
  • Police annual wage: $48,420
  • Firefighter annual wage: $35,500

39. Oklahoma

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,020
  • Police annual wage: $46,120
  • Firefighter annual wage: $43,450

38. Tennessee

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,600
  • Police annual wage: $44,600
  • Firefighter annual wage: $40,280

37. New Mexico

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,660
  • Police annual wage: $51,250
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,590

36. Vermont

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,290
  • Police annual wage: $52,940
  • Firefighter annual wage: $37,070

35. Utah

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,870
  • Police annual wage: $53,890
  • Firefighter annual wage: $37,960

34. South Dakota

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $32,360
  • Police annual wage: $48,550
  • Firefighter annual wage: $44,710

33. North Dakota

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $32,680
  • Police annual wage: $57,190
  • Firefighter annual wage: $42,980

32. Wyoming

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,120
  • Police annual wage: $55,050
  • Firefighter annual wage: $43,810

31. Idaho

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,960
  • Police annual wage: $53,880
  • Firefighter annual wage: $40,490

30. Michigan

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,720
  • Police annual wage: $56,270
  • Firefighter annual wage: $45,440

29. Missouri

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,560
  • Police annual wage: $48,920
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,100

28. Wisconsin

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,780
  • Police annual wage: $62,040
  • Firefighter annual wage: $40,310

27. Nebraska

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,130
  • Police annual wage: $57,530
  • Firefighter annual wage: $47,880

26. Iowa

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,760
  • Police annual wage: $58,340
  • Firefighter annual wage: $43,970

25. Ohio

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $32,200
  • Police annual wage: $61,040
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,310

24. Montana

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,020
  • Police annual wage: $56,230
  • Firefighter annual wage: $49,230

23. Indiana

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,040
  • Police annual wage: $55,310
  • Firefighter annual wage: $49,460

22. Virginia

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,310
  • Police annual wage: $56,710
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,510

21. New Hampshire

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $38,390
  • Police annual wage: $58,120
  • Firefighter annual wage: $48,640

20. Arizona

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $38,260
  • Police annual wage: $64,640
  • Firefighter annual wage: $45,150

19. Florida

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,790
  • Police annual wage: $59,610
  • Firefighter annual wage: $53,340

18. Minnesota

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $42,460
  • Police annual wage: $69,060
  • Firefighter annual wage: $37,690

17. Texas

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,620
  • Police annual wage: 61,870
  • Firefighter annual wage: $52,520

16. Pennsylvania

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,980
  • Police annual wage: $66,600
  • Firefighter annual wage: $56,090

15. Rhode Island

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $40,070
  • Police annual wage: $60,890
  • Firefighter annual wage: $55,240

14. Delaware

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $40,730
  • Police annual wage: $70,000
  • Firefighter annual wage: $48,800

13. Massachusetts

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $41,570
  • Police annual wage: $69,870
  • Firefighter annual wage: $60,080

12. Nevada

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,240
  • Police annual wage: $70,450
  • Firefighter annual wage: $66,830

11. Illinois

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $44,940
  • Police annual wage: $75,720
  • Firefighter annual wage: $56,710

10. Colorado

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $42,320
  • Police annual wage: $72,950
  • Firefighter annual wage: $61,160

9. Oregon

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $42,470
  • Police annual wage: $70,360
  • Firefighter annual wage: $66,330

8. Maryland

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $49,490
  • Police annual wage: $68,230
  • Firefighter annual wage: $61,780

7. Connecticut

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $46,890
  • Police annual wage: $71,920
  • Firefighter annual wage: $63,630

6. Alaska

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $47,780
  • Police annual wage: $88,030
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,110

5. New York

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $44,120
  • Police annual wage: $74,860
  • Firefighter annual wage: $73,710

4. Hawaii

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $54,370
  • Police annual wage: $74,040
  • Firefighter annual wage: $62,670

3. New Jersey

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,460
  • Police annual wage: $83,720
  • Firefighter annual wage: $76,530

2. California

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $39,350
  • Police annual wage: $101,380
  • Firefighter annual wage: $81,580

1. Washington

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $67,600
  • Police annual wage: $77,670
  • Firefighter annual wage: $73,850

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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined how much first responders earn in every state, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics for May 2018 (which was the latest data available) to find the mean annual wages of three core first responder jobs in all 50 U.S. states: (1) police and sheriff’s patrol officers, (2) emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and (3) firefighters. The salaries for each job were scored, added up and ranked from the worst-paying states to the best-paying states. All data used to conduct this ranking was compiled and verified on Aug. 19, 2019.

Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the images may not reflect the states listed in this article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Here’s How Much First Responders Make in Every State