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The 10 Best Schools For Becoming a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator: Degree and Job Info

fire inspector or investigator

As citizens, we rely heavily on the expertise of a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator to keep us safe and search for the cause of a fire when needed. In this capacity, you will assist others in their time of need, often after losing their loved ones, property, and personal belongings. A compassionate heart is a must-have when working in a fire-related field when such tragedies can occur. 

Please take a look at our guide about becoming a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator below! 

Related Article: 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education


10 BEST SCHOOLS FOR A FIRE INSPECTOR OR FIRE INVESTIGATOR DEGREE

Durham Tech

Durham Tech

(On-Campus) AAS or Certificate in Fire Investigator

An investigator is called to a fire or explosion scene to determine its cause. They may need to collect and analyze evidence like charred wood and glass and interview witnesses, property owners, and building occupants to get information. You’ll undergo training to do these tasks when you get a certificate or associate degree in Fire Investigator at Durham Tech.

As well as issuing affidavits, the Investigator can also testify in court cases concerning suspected arsonists.

The program at Durham Tech prepares students to serve as fire investigators by teaching them the basic methods and information required. Upon graduating, program participants will have the skills and knowledge necessary to manage and supervise multiple fire hazards, resolve fire prevention problems, and handle fire service administrative issues. An associate’s degree and certificate are available.

Programs offered:

  • Fire Protection Technology
  • Basic Law Enforcement Training

Become a fire inspector with an AAS or Certificate in Fire Investigator to be acquired at Durham Tech. Use this educational attainment to jumpstart your career in the fire protection industry.


City Colleges of Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago

(On-Campus) AAS in Fire Service Operations

As a fire inspector, your tasks include inspecting buildings for fire hazards and enforcement of local and state laws or investigation and gathering facts to determine what caused fires and explosions. This program targets college students interested in emergency and fire service careers but is not employed by one yet.

As a fire investigator, you’ll be trained to locate and report hazardous conditions and fire code violations in buildings, such as accumulations of combustible material, defective electrical wiring, and non-functional fire exits. You’ll be tasked to present fire code requirements and fire prevention information to all authorities, including property owners, attorneys, engineers, real estate developers, and the general public.

As part of your job, you need to provide property owners with information about the corrective measures required to bring their properties into compliance with applicable fire codes, laws, regulations, and standards. You should also provide detailed reports detailing fire inspections, fire code violations, and recommendations for corrective action. All these job roles and tasks can be made possible to acquire an education at the City Colleges of Chicago. 

Programs offered:

  • Automotive Maintenance
  • Fire Science Management

You can work as a municipal firefighter, forest firefighter, fire inspector, or forest fire inspector and prevention specialist when you have this AAS in Fire Service Operations offered at City Colleges of Chicago.


American River College

American River College

(On-Campus) AAS in Fire Technology

The Fire Technology program offers high-quality and comprehensive training and education programs perfect for any level for paid and volunteer firefighters. 

Most of the coursework in Fire Technology is compatible with acquiring a degree or a certificate, and some are transferrable to a four-year university. Most fire departments in many regions and within California require these courses for employment.

Sacramento Regional Fire Technology Advisory Board and the California Fire Technology Directors Association were responsible for creating this program. In addition to this training course that awards a Certificate of Achievement, the program also offers a general education component leading to an associate degree. All of the program’s instructors are experienced firefighters.

Programs offered:

  • Design and Engineering Technology
  • Emergency Medical Technology

If you can serve the public by being in the fire service, acquiring an AAS education in Fire Technology at American River College can help you attain your educational goals.


Valencia College

Valencia College

(On-Campus) AAS in Fire Science Technology

A partnership between Valencia College and Central Florida fire agencies has led to establishing the premier Fire Rescue Institute to offer career pathways to meet the needs of Central Florida, national, and global fire service communities. 

These programs offer high-quality and diverse learning opportunities to advance all professionals in the industry. The program aims to prepare firefighters, fire officers, fire inspectors, fire investigators, and fire instructors. In addition, students who earn an Associate in Science degree in Fire Science Technology have the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

With an emphasis on effective prevention, control, and management of fire and emergency hazards, the Fire Science Technology AAS program is two years long. The program enables students to earn a bachelor’s degree, improve their careers and obtain employment. 

Courses for fire service professionals of all levels cover the latest updates, topics, and equipment so they can refresh their skills and build on their experience to stay safe and advance their careers. The topics covered in the program include firefighter survival, fire apparatus operations, rescue and vehicle operation, and leadership development.

Programs offered:

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Fire Science Academy Track

By enrolling in this AAS in Fire Science Technology offered at Valencia College, you can pave your career in the fire service industry.


University of Idaho

University of Idaho

(Online) Certificate in Fire Safety

By enrolling in this online program, it would be possible for you to enroll in courses at your own pace and participate in on-demand and interactive videos, discussions, and webinars with other experts across the country. Students will learn about NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and International Fire Code (IFC) standards and codes through these courses.

This program prepares students for careers in fire protection. It consists of 18 credits. Two courses will be available every semester to earn the certificate in three semesters.

Instructors in the program include certified firefighters, fire investigators, fire chiefs, or other professionals who have decades of experience in fire protection.

Programs offered:

  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Technology Management

Be able to partake in public service and ensure fire safety in many sectors through having an online certificate education in Fire Safety offered by the University of Idaho. Use it to land a job in different agencies.


Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College

(Online) BS in Fire Science

Whether it’s a fire or a spill of hazardous materials, disasters can happen at any time. From Anna Maria College, you can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science online. The program provides the knowledge you need to become a leader in fire service and related fields.

You will also stand out to potential employers when you earn a BS in Fire Science. Anna Maria College was among the first colleges to receive FESHE certification from the US Fire Administration.

Anna Maria College offers an online fire science degree recognized by FESHE. It is also officially accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Accreditation is a good indication of the quality of the education you will receive.

To provide protection and respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively, advanced study and training are vital. You can earn your fire science degree from Anna Maria College online no matter when and where you prefer. You will be able to gain a solid foundation in the technical aspects of firefighting, fire dynamics, and hazardous material handling when you earn your FESHE-recognized fire science degree online.

Programs offered:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Emergency Management

Prepare to become a fire chief, fire prevention educator, or fire investigator when you finish this BS degree in Fire Science offered at Anna Maria College


Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University

(On-Campus or Online) BS in Fire Protection Administration

The Fire Administration program is designed for the foundational knowledge of fire prevention, fire science, and fire protection, as well as the administrative skills you’ll need to lead a fire services organization. The International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) accredits all of Eastern Kentucky University’s Fire & Safety degrees, and these programs have been continuously offered for more than three decades now.

During their first semester at EKU, students in this BS program in Fire Protection Administration will take Fire & Safety classes. Several national conferences will be offered to students, including the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) and IAFC (International Association of Fire Chiefs).

Ashland Inc. Fire and Safety Laboratory houses and holds all the fire and safety programs. The facilities include seven test burn rooms, fire chemistry, evidence inspection labs, a pump laboratory, a sprinkler control room, and a sprinkler flow room.

Programs offered:

  • Computer Information Systems
  • Broadcasting and Electronic Media

Be equipped with the know-how necessary to become a firefighter, fire marshal, fire chief, or fire inspector with this BS degree in Fire Protection Administration available at Eastern Kentucky University. You can choose to study either on-campus or online.


Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

(On-Campus) Certificate in Firefighter

NC’s Department of Insurance, Fire & Rescue Commission offers courses that lead to firefighter certification. NCDOI will certify the student as a Firefighter after completing the courses at each level. This series’s courses are Fire Control, Fire Safety, Ladders, Forcible Entry, Fire Behavior, and Water Supply. Students who are members of a paid or volunteer fire department are exempt from paying the program cost.

Programs offered:

  • Basic Law Enforcement
  • Technical Rescuer

Achieve your dream of servicing society with a Certificate in Firefighter, which you can achieve at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.


Montgomery College

Montgomery College

(On-Campus) AAS or Certificate in Fire Science and Emergency Services

Fire Science and Emergency Services at Montgomery College offer a certificate and associate’s degree. 

All requirements for the tracks of fire and emergency services management, fire protection technology, and fire prevention technology must be completed to receive the fire and emergency services management associate’s degree. After completing all Fire Science and Emergency Services requirements, you will receive a certificate.

Fire and emergency services management at Montgomery College prepares students to transfer to the University of Maryland Global Campus and complete their upper-level coursework there. For more than 40 years, Montgomery College’s fire science program has prepared leaders in the fire service.   

 Programs offered:

  • Biotechnology
  • Architectural Technology

Start preparing your career in the fire fighting industry with an AAS or Certificate in Fire Science and Emergency Services degree offered at Montgomery College.


Delaware County Community College

Delaware County Community College

(On-Campus) Certificate in Firefighter Safety

The fire protection industry deals with thousands of injuries and hundreds of accidental deaths each year. There are inherent risks when firefighters respond to an emergency, work a scene, or return to the station. And to support your call of service, it’s crucial that you also acquire education in Firefighter Safety, which is one of the offerings at Delaware County Community College.

Firefighters’ experience indicates a correlation between alertness and their ability to recognize or prevent specific job-related injuries and illnesses. Firefighter Safety certificate courses at the College address these issues and factors. Among the courses, you can expect to take Firefighter Safety Seminar, Residential and Garden Apartment Fires, Basement and Garage Fires, and Strip Mall and Supermarket Fires.

Programs offered:

  • Process Control Certificate
  • Electro-Mechanical Certificate

By enrolling at Delaware County Community College’s Certificate in Firefighter Safety, you’ll gain a professional advantage against other candidates pursuing to land a job as a firefighter or fire inspector in different sectors.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need to be a Fireman before becoming a Fire Inspector?

Yes, typically, you will need previous work experience as a Fireman to become a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator. Most employers will require it.

Is there a difference between a Fire Inspector and a Fire Investigator?

Yes, Fire Inspectors work to prevent fires, and Fire Investigators determine the cause of a fire.   

What does a Fire Inspector do?

A Fire Inspector searches for potential fire hazards by inspecting buildings to be sure they adhere to all safety protocols, as well as state and local codes and regulations. They also: 

  • Test water sprinklers and smoke alarms, 
  • Check emergency evacuation plans,
  • Record violations and do follow-up visits to make sure infractions have been repaired or remedied,
  • Oversee fire safety programs and presentations,
  • Inspect air compressors and fuel tanks,
  • Provide recordkeeping,
  • Monitor controlled burns and burn permits, 
  • And, much more! 

What does a Fire Investigator do?

When a fire does occur, who determines the cause of the incident? A Fire Investigator. They search for where the fire or the explosion originated. They also: 

  • Conduct witness interviews,
  • Document evidence by collecting samples, 
  • Work with laboratories; testing chemicals or fingerprints, along with other evidence,
  • Testify in court to findings, 
  • Keeps detailed records,
  • Takes photographs of damages, 
  • Reconstructs arson events detailed by investigation,
  • And, much more!

What do Forest Fire Inspectors do?

Forest Fire Inspectors prevent and control fires that happen in wooded areas, either in residential or public areas, especially wildfires. They also: 

  • Patrol wooded areas prone to forest fires, 
  • Educate the public about forest fire prevention,
  • Checks weather conditions that might contribute to forest fires, 
  • Makes certain that specific fire codes are enforced, 
  • Keeps detailed records, 
  • Issues violation notices as necessary,
  • And, much more! 

What skills are helpful as a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator?

Besides the proper training and experience as a Firefighter, Fire Inspectors and Fire Investigators work closely with fellow personnel, as well as law enforcement agencies, the legal system, and of course, the parties involved; therefore, the following skills will be helpful:

  • Exhibit excellent communication abilities; both oral and written, with clear speaking voice, 
  • Understanding of written and spoken directions, as well as state and local codes, 
  • Good penmanship, 
  • Physical and mental strength, 
  • Handles stress well, 
  • Has exceptional critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities, 
  • Is detail-oriented, 
  • Sympathetic to those who have lost personal belongings, property, or loved ones,
  • And, maintain professionalism.

How do I become a Fire Inspector?

To begin, you will need a high school or equivalent diploma. Next, you will need to become a Firefighter. To become a Firefighter, you can obtain your training through a fire academy. 

From here, qualifications can differ depending on the employer. Of course, work-related experience as a Firefighter is required. In addition, you may be required to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science, chemistry, or engineering.

Fire Inspector on-the-job training will be required; in the classroom and on-site. Coursework will include topics like Legal Codes, Handling Hazardous Materials and Explosives, Conducting Inspections, State and Local Codes, Courtroom Procedures, and how to educate others on fire safety, to name a few.

Upon completing your training, you will work a while with an experienced officer to gain the confidence and knowledge needed to work independently.

See the National Fire Academy and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for more information about training.

Are Fire Inspector jobs dangerous?

Obviously, fighting fires is a dangerous job. In fact, in 2020, 62 Firefighters lost their lives while on duty in the U.S., according to nfpa.com. In addition, 78 died from on-duty COVID-related exposure. Receiving excellent training and following all safety protocols are a must. 

As a Fire Inspector, your risks may be reduced since you may not be required to fight fires regularly. However, being exposed to smoke, fumes, and hazardous materials is not uncommon.

Do I need certification to be a Fire Inspector?

Many states require certification; therefore, you will need to check your state’s mandates regarding this. Certifications are offered by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other reputable organizations.

What kind of salary can I expect as a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator?

According to the BLS, as of May 2020, the salary for a Fire Inspector or Fire Investigator was $64,610 per year. The highest 10% earned upwards of $100,780 annually.

Are Fire Inspector jobs plentiful?

The BLS projects an 11% job growth rate between 2020 and 2030, adding about 2,100 new job openings on average per year. 

What are other related types of jobs available?

Related jobs include Forensic Science Technician, Private Investigator, or careers in law enforcement, such as the Police or Detective. 

If you would like to pursue an emergency response-related career, consider becoming a Fire Marshall, Paramedic, Fire Chief, Public Safety Communicator, Emergency Medical Technician, Smoke Jumper, to name a few.

Who hires Fire Inspectors?

Local governmental agencies, followed by state agencies, are the largest employers of Fire Inspectors. They work in the office setting, as well as out in the field. Working holidays, nights, or weekends is all in a day’s work, too.

How To Become A Fire Inspector Or Fire Investigator-fact

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor