How to Become a Fire Inspector
Fire Inspector Careers & Degrees

A fire inspector works to make sure that homes and businesses are safe and secure for those people that live and work there.

If you have a good eye for detail, are interested in construction and fire management, and enjoy a job with a lot of variety, then you might like to become a fire inspector.

When you become a fire inspector, your job will involve attending new and existing buildings to analyze fire risk.

You will look at the structure of the building and ensure it adheres to safety regulations.

It’s also the role of a fire inspector to make sure there are adequate escape routes in case of emergency.

Education Requirements to Become a Fire Inspector

There are a few different paths you can take if you would like to become a fire inspector.

The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or a GED.

However, to secure a role without a college degree only usually occurs when a person has significant work experience in a similar area, such as in law enforcement or as a fire fighter.

These candidates are trained on the job and gain experience that way.

Another way to become a fire inspector is to complete a associates degree at community college with an emphasis on law enforcement and fire safety.

You could also complete a four year fire science degree at a traditional college.

In this setting you’ll learn about fire practices and safety, fire and arson investigation, fire regulations, and building codes.

In some states you may need licensure to become a fire inspector.

This usually involves paying a fee and taking a licensing exam.

Fire inspectors are also required to take part in continued education and professional development.

Fire Inspector Job Description

A fire inspector attends a range of structures such as businesses, offices, homes, and factories to ensure that they comply with local, state, and federal fire safety laws and regulations.

This could include the way dangerous materials are stored, that fire extinguishers are one hand, and that there are planned escape routes.

A fire inspector also attends a building to assess the risk of fire.

Some places may be of a high risk of fire, for instance if they were storing or transporting dangerous good such as fuel.

High rise apartment buildings may also need to adhere to special requirements, or buildings close to heavily forested areas.

If a fire inspector notices a regulation not being met, they will give the owner of the structure a written order to comply within a certain time period.

In some instances they may also be issued with a fine.

Often, a fire inspector will need to make a written report of all of their findings on an inspection.

Here are some of the duties of a fire inspector:

  • Attend homes, buildings, offices, and factories
  • Conduct fire safety inspections
  • Note any regulations not being met
  • Prepare a list of recommendations after inspection
  • Prepare a written report of inspection findings
  • Report and failure to meet a regulation to relevant authorities

Fire Inspector Salary and Career Path

A fire inspector is usually employed by a fire department, a law enforcement agency, or a state government.

A small proportion of fire inspectors are employed by large companies, and will visit different branches of the company to conduct inspections and make recommendations.

Working as a fire inspector is a good job to have if you want to make a difference to your community.

The findings you make when you become a fire inspector can help prevent a fire, the loss of property, as well as the possible injury or deaths.

The median salary for a fire inspector is between $46,000 and $61,000 a year.

The top 10% of earners make more than $69,000 a year.

Job prospects are good, as is job security.

Fire inspectors are often promoted to other roles within law enforcement.

They may become head investigators, or work to develop fire prevention plans.

Some similar roles to that of fire inspector include:

Working as a fire inspector is a good way to work in a secure role that also offers a good salary.

Currently there are good opportunities in this field, with predictions of strong growth in the future.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$64,730
$38K
$48K
$64K
$78K
$96K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$67,800
Alaska$62,830
Arizona$65,000
California$107,270
Colorado$77,630
Connecticut$75,870
Delaware$55,970
District of Columbia$80,220
Florida$60,230
Georgia$54,380
Illinois$65,130
Indiana$52,670
Iowa$65,280
Kansas$53,270
Kentucky$45,020
Louisiana$53,050
Maine$58,680
Maryland$69,200
Massachusetts$68,060
Michigan$65,760
Minnesota$74,420
Mississippi$50,660
Missouri$51,470
Nebraska$58,230
Nevada$88,380
New Hampshire$62,240
New Jersey$55,000
New Mexico$44,400
North Carolina$54,530
North Dakota$64,460
Ohio$64,160
Oklahoma$74,530
Oregon$93,080
Pennsylvania$53,910
Rhode Island$58,700
South Carolina$56,870
Tennessee$60,710
Texas$66,540
Utah$62,550
Vermont$62,010
Virginia$56,960
Washington$94,410
West Virginia$38,450
Wisconsin$61,770

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $107,270.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $107,270
Washington - $94,410
Oregon - $93,080
Nevada - $88,380
District of Columbia - $80,220
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Fire Inspectors and Investigators, OCC Code 33-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a Fire Inspector?

Fire inspectors are professionals hired to examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards.

They must ensure that the building meets the local, state and federal fire codes.

Fire inspectors spend time behind the desk and in the field and usually work during business hours.

They may inspect a variety of buildings such as apartment complexes, offices, or industrial plants.

Forest fire inspectors spend most of their time outdoors looking to detect wildfire risks.

Fire inspectors need to be detail-oriented and have physical strength, and good communication and critical-thinking skills.

QuestionHow much does a Fire Inspector make?

The median pay for fire inspectors and investigators was $62,510 in 2018.

Salaries vary depending on the industries where they work.

Fire inspectors and investigators employed in colleges, universities, and professional schools earned a median wage of $53,780, while fire investigators working in manufacturing earned around $75,510.

The median annual wage for a forest fire inspector and prevention specialist was $39,600 in May of 2018.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a Fire Inspector?

Fire inspectors typically have previous experience as firefighters.

They need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training in fire inspection.

Training usually includes classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

Many fire inspectors have completed a postsecondary educational program for emergency medical technicians.

Tuition for an EMT education program can be anywhere between $1,000-10,000, depending on the school you choose.

Some employers may prefer candidates with a two or four-year degree in fire science, engineering or chemistry.

In order to ensure that you receive the best education possible, you should choose a school that is accredited by government institutions.

Most employers also require fire inspectors to possess a driver’s license and to pass a background check and a drug test.

QuestionWhat is the demand for Fire Inspectors?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for fire inspectors is expected to grow by 8 percent in the next 10 years.

Although employment for forest fire inspectors is expected to grow by 24 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations, the fast growth will result in only 500 new jobs in the 10-year period.

If you want to become a fire inspector, you should expect strong competition.

Those who have a college degree in fire science or similar training have a great advantage over the other candidates.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a Fire Inspector?

Fire inspectors usually have work experience as firefighters.

This means that they have completed an EMT training program, which usually involves about 1,200 hours of instruction.

Firefighters are also trained at the Fire Academy, which costs around $5,300.

If you want to have an advantage over the other candidates you should also consider obtaining a two or four-year degree in fire science, or a related field.

Many states also require fire inspectors to pass a certification exam and require additional annual training in order to maintain your certification.

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