Becoming a Certified Fire Inspector: Education & Classes

What education and classes do you need to become a certified fire inspector? Read on to find out, plus see potential salaries, key skills and job growth. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Certified fire inspectors check buildings for fire hazards, ensure adherence to safety regulations and test fire prevention equipment. Many start their careers as firefighters before getting certified to become a fire inspector. You'll find a quick overview of the profession below.

Degree Required High school diploma
Training Required On-the-job training provided by employers
Key Skills Physical strength, communication, detail-oriented
Certification Required at the state or national level
Job Growth (2016-2026) 10%*
Median Salary (2017) $56,670 per year*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Fire Inspectors Do?

Fire inspectors do the important work of keeping buildings as safe as possible from the damage of fire. This entails a range of job duties. Fire inspectors perform regular inspections of both new and old construction to check that managers are adhering to fire safety codes. They'll look for potential fire hazards, go over evacuation plans and test fire prevention equipment like fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinklers. When they've given the building owner or manager things to fix, they'll do follow-ups to make sure they comply. Fire inspectors also conduct fire safety classes and seminars to educate the public on preventing fires.

What Education Do You Need to Become a Fire Inspector?

One of the most common paths to becoming a fire inspector is to start out as a firefighter. There, you can cut your teeth in the industry, gaining many of the essentials you'd need to work as an inspector. Firefighters typically need at least a high school diploma to get hired. As such, there's not really a required postsecondary degree, though many train as emergency medical technicians and do some study at the postsecondary level.

Many employers and fire academies offer classroom and hands-on training (as does the National Fire Protection Association). Coursework might include legal codes, handling hazardous materials, using equipment properly and how to conduct an inspection.

What Certification Do You Need to Be a Certified Fire Inspector?

Certification requirements can vary from state to state, but many have exams that echo the standards of competency established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA offers a range of certifications, among them the Certified Fire Inspector I (CFI) and the Certified Fire Inspector II (CFI-II). Both share the goal of enhancing your professionalism, promoting your job performance and advancing your career. You must pass the CFI before you can take the CFI-II.

How Much Do Fire Inspectors Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for fire inspectors in May 2017 was $56,670 per year. By comparison, firefighters brought home a median annual salary of $49,080, giving those who advance their careers in the industry a modest bump in pay. Inspectors can look forward to working regular business hours.

Is Employment in the Field Growing?

Demand for fire inspectors is expected to grow in the coming years for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is that they'll be needed as more new construction goes up around the country. Additionally, older buildings will continue to need inspection, especially as codes evolve. Want hard numbers? The BLS has them -- it projects an increase in employment of 10% for fire inspectors between 2016 and 2026.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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