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Fire Inspectors and Investigators
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Description: what do they do?
Inspect buildings to detect fire hazards and enforce local ordinances and state laws, or investigate and gather facts to determine cause of fires and explosions.
Also known as:
Arson Investigator, Fire Code Inspector, Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator, Fire Official, Fire Prevention Inspector, Fire Prevention Specialist, Fire Protection Specialist, Fire Safety Inspector, Fire and Explosion Investigator

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Smokey Bear may be the most recognized fire prevention figure in the country, but there are a variety of workers involved in preventing and investigating fires in the forest and elsewhere. Fire inspectors search buildings for fire hazards and ensure that government fire codes are met. They inspect buildings— from apartment and office complexes to stadiums and schools. They also test fire alarms and extinguishers, review evacuation plans, and conduct fire safety education programs. Fire investigators attempt to reconstruct how fires occur… they collect evidence and interview witnesses to determine the origin and cause of building fires. They may be exposed to poor ventilation, smoke, fumes, and other hazardous agents. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists look out for conditions that pose a wildfire risk, recommend ways to reduce fire hazards, and conduct patrols to enforce regulations and report on conditions. They spend much of their time outdoors in forests and fields. Most fire inspectors, investigators, and forest fire specialists have work experience as firefighters along with specialized classroom and on-the-job training. While some employers prefer candidates with a degree in fire science, engineering, or chemistry for fire inspector and investigator positions, forest fire specialists typically need a high school education. Additional requirements vary by state.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Please note that this does not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different outlooks due to the rapidly changing economy. When new outlook information is developed, it will be reflected here.

    Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings". This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations and My Next Move career outlook designations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
Indiana
170
2018 Employment
190
2028 Employment
12%
Percent change
20
Annual projected job openings
United States
14,200
2019 Employment
15,000
2029 Employment
6%
Percent change
1,500
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2018 (for states) or 2019 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2028 (for states) or 2029 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    Please note that these projections do not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different projections due to the rapidly changing economy. When revised data are available, they will be published here.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2018-28.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2019-29.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Fire Inspectors and Investigators in Indiana
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationIndianaUnited States
10%$35,030$39,860
25%$42,360$50,230
Median$54,390$64,610
75%$66,730$81,800
90%$78,950$100,780


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Program, May 2020 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Postsecondary certificate
  • 5 years or more work experience
  • 1 to 12 months on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2019.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2018.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Prepare investigation or incident reports.
  • Record information about suspects or criminals.
  • Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.
  • Process forensic or legal evidence in accordance with procedures.
  • Inspect equipment to ensure safety or proper functioning.
  • Analyze crime scene evidence.
  • Interview people to gather information about criminal activities.
  • Record crime or accident scene evidence with video or still cameras.
  • Examine debris to obtain information about causes of fires.
  • Inspect facilities to ensure compliance with fire regulations.
  • Educate the public about fire safety or prevention.
  • Issue permits or other legal documents.
  • Inspect facilities to ensure compliance with security or safety regulations.
  • Write operational reports.
  • Investigate crimes committed within organizations.
  • Inform others about laws or regulations.
  • Identify actions needed to bring properties or facilities into compliance with regulations.
  • Develop fire safety or prevention programs or plans.
  • Collaborate with law enforcement or security agencies to respond to incidents.
  • Attend training to learn new skills or update knowledge.
  • Review documents or materials for compliance with policies or regulations.
  • Examine crime scenes to obtain evidence.
  • Train personnel to enhance job skills.
  • Train personnel in technical or scientific procedures.
  • Maintain fire fighting tools or equipment.
  • Provide safety training.
  • Direct fire fighting or prevention activities.
  • Train employees in proper work procedures.
  • Evaluate employee performance.
  • Recommend improvements to increase safety or reduce risks.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Flexibility of Closure - Seeing hidden patterns.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Far Vision - Seeing details that are far away.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Perceptual Speed - Quickly comparing groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Prepare and maintain reports of investigation results, and records of convicted arsonists and arson suspects.
  • Testify in court cases involving fires, suspected arson, and false alarms.
  • Package collected pieces of evidence in securely closed containers, such as bags, crates, or boxes, to protect them.
  • Conduct inspections and acceptance testing of newly installed fire protection systems.
  • Analyze evidence and other information to determine probable cause of fire or explosion.
  • Subpoena and interview witnesses, property owners, and building occupants to obtain information and sworn testimony.
  • Photograph damage and evidence related to causes of fires or explosions to document investigation findings.
  • Examine fire sites and collect evidence such as glass, metal fragments, charred wood, and accelerant residue for use in determining the cause of a fire.
  • Inspect buildings to locate hazardous conditions and fire code violations, such as accumulations of combustible material, electrical wiring problems, and inadequate or non-functional fire exits.
  • Instruct children about the dangers of fire.
  • Conduct fire code compliance follow-ups to ensure that corrective actions have been taken in cases where violations were found.
  • Inspect properties that store, handle, and use hazardous materials to ensure compliance with laws, codes, and regulations, and issue hazardous materials permits to facilities found in compliance.
  • Write detailed reports of fire inspections performed, fire code violations observed, and corrective recommendations offered.
  • Conduct internal investigation to determine negligence and violation of laws and regulations by fire department employees.
  • Identify corrective actions necessary to bring properties into compliance with applicable fire codes, laws, regulations, and standards, and explain these measures to property owners or their representatives.
  • Test sites and materials to establish facts, such as burn patterns and flash points of materials, using test equipment.
  • Develop or review fire exit plans.
  • Inspect and test fire protection or fire detection systems to verify that such systems are installed in accordance with appropriate laws, codes, ordinances, regulations, and standards.
  • Coordinate efforts with other organizations, such as law enforcement agencies.
  • Attend training classes to maintain current knowledge of fire prevention, safety, and firefighting procedures.
  • Review blueprints and plans for new or remodeled buildings to ensure the structures meet fire safety codes.
  • Dust evidence or portions of fire scenes for latent fingerprints.
  • Teach fire investigation techniques to other firefighter personnel.
  • Arrange for the replacement of defective fire fighting equipment and for repair of fire alarm and sprinkler systems, making minor repairs such as servicing fire extinguishers when feasible.
  • Conduct fire exit drills to monitor and evaluate evacuation procedures.
  • Issue permits for public assemblies.
  • Supervise staff, training them, planning their work, and evaluating their performance.
  • Teach public education programs on fire safety and prevention.
  • Develop and coordinate fire prevention programs, such as false alarm billing, fire inspection reporting, and hazardous materials management.
  • Recommend changes to fire prevention, inspection, and fire code endorsement procedures.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.