Fire Investigator Job Description

Salary: $42,100 – $68,700 Number of Jobs: 14,730
Hourly Rate: $20.25 – $33.04 Employment Outlook: Normal
Green Job: No Education: Work experience in a related occupation

What do Fire Investigators do?

After firefighters put out a fire, fire investigators are called in to determine the cause. Their investigations include collecting evidence, interrogating witnesses, and studying the sites of fires.

Fire investigators commonly work with law enforcement agencies. If a fire investigator’s investigation leads them to suspect arson, then police conduct their own investigation to identify the guilty party.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most fire investigators work for their local fire department or law enforcement agency, but there are some opportunities available in other environments as well. Some insurance companies hire fire investigators to investigate claims. If you want to work for the federal government, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is also in need of good fire investigators.

Fire investigators normally split their time between the office and the field. In their office, they produce reports, meet with colleagues, and perform general administrative tasks. In the field, they visit sites where fires have occurred.

Nearly all fire investigators work full time, and normally work in long shifts. The length of the shifts can vary, but can last up to 24 hours a time. Because fires can happen at any time of day or night, fire investigators are often required to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Before you pursue a career as a fire investigator, you should consider how it will align with your personal goals and dreams. This can be a very fulfilling occupation, but the demanding schedule is not for everyone.

How to Become a Fire Investigator

To become a fire investigator, you will need a minimum of a high school diploma and years of experience working as a police officer or firefighter. While it’s not always required, a bachelor’s degree in a related field is often preferred.

Fire investigators attend a specialized training academy, which is normally conducted by a police or fire department. These academies provide on the job and classroom training, and cover legal codes, courtroom procedures, use of equipment, and guidelines for performing a fire investigation.

Once training is completed, fire investigators normally go through a probationary or training period where they work under the supervision of an experienced investigator.

Most states require that fire investigators become certified. The exams normally cover fire, electrical, and building safety standards as established by the National Fire Protection Agency.

Employment Outlook

There are currently 14,730 fire investigators in the United States, with 540 new fire investigator job openings created each year.

Fire Investigator jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Fire Investigator Salaries

Overall Salaries

Fire Investigator salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most fire investigators make between $42,100 – $68,700 per year, or $20.25 – $33.04 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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