How To Become A Fire Inspector

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Fire Inspectors

Fire Inspectors inspect buildings and equipment to detect fire hazards and enforce state and local regulations.

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Post-secondary certificate
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Table of contents
  1. Summary
  2. Steps to become one
  3. Popular degree levels
  4. How long does it take


Degree Certificate or Associate's degree
Degree field Fire Science Technology
License or certification Required in many states
Duration to become one 5 to 7 years
Difficulty to become one Medium

Fire Inspectors typically need a high school diploma and certification from a formal training program. Earning an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree can lead to greater employability and may be necessary for some senior positions. The most common major for Fire Inspectors is Fire Science Technology.

Many states require Fire Inspectors to earn certification by passing an exam administered by the National Fire Protection Association or the National Association of Fire Investigators. Fire Inspectors often earn the certification after gaining employment.

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Fire Inspectors Requirements

Step 1: Study Math and Science in High School

Fire Inspectors use science and math to help analyze the fire safety of buildings and protect against fires. High school students should focus on these subjects to prepare for this career. Students should also stay in shape to ensure that they meet the physical requirements to work as a Firefighter, which is a necessary step to becoming a Fire Inspector.

Step 2: Earn a College Degree

While Fire Inspectors do not typically need college degrees, earning a degree leads to more career options. Aspiring Fire Inspectors who earn college degrees can learn management techniques and problem-solving skills for managing other workers.

Fire Science is a common major for Fire Inspectors with Associate’s Degrees and Bachelor’s Degrees. Fire Science teaches students the science behind fire. They also learn fire prevention techniques and the flammability of different materials.

Earning a Fire Science degree may also eliminate the need to take separate EMT training and Firefighter training at an academy. Many Fire Science Technology programs cover these topics, allowing students to take the tests to earn the EMT certificate and look for work as Firefighters.

Step 3: Earn an Emergency Medical Technician Certificate

Most Fire Inspectors have previous experience as Firefighters, which requires an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate. EMT training programs take about six months to complete and require students to take an exam before earning the certificate.

Step 4: Complete Firefighter Training Academy

After earning the EMT certificate, apply for a job as a Firefighter and complete the department’s training academy. The training often lasts several months and teaches students how to fight fires with various equipment, including axes, fire extinguishers, and chainsaws. Recruits also learn fire prevention techniques, which are useful for the Fire Inspector career.

Step 5: Become a Firefighter

Employers often want Fire Inspectors to have at least several years of experience as a Firefighter. Individuals who struggle to find employment at a fire department may try working as a Volunteer Firefighter to improve their resume.

Many rural and urban fire departments have hiring limits, which can make it difficult to find work as a Firefighter in certain regions. Individuals who cannot find work immediately should consider working as a Volunteer Firefighter until a job becomes available.

Step 6: Complete a Fire Inspector Training Program

Fire Inspectors may need to complete a training program that covers the basics of inspecting fires. This requirement is more common for those who plan on working for insurance companies. Fire Inspectors who work for fire departments often receive on-the-job training after getting hired. Completing a separate training program may not be necessary for those who have earned an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science.

Step 7: Meet State Requirements for Certification

Most states require Fire Inspectors to pass a national certification exam administered by the National Fire Protection Association. Additional training or certification may be required in some states.

Some employers may also require additional certifications before hiring a candidate. The National Fire Protection Association offers the Certified Fire Inspector and Certified Fire Protection Specialist certifications, which are the two most common certifications for this career.

The Certified Fire Inspector certification does not require any previous experience. Applicants simply need a high school diploma. Earning the certificate involves passing an exam with 100 multiple-choice questions.

The Certified Fire Protection Specialist certification requires varying levels of work experience based on the applicant’s formal education. Individuals with no college degree need at least six years of relevant work experience, such as working as a Firefighter. Applicants with an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science or an unrelated Bachelor’s Degree need four years of work experience. Applicants with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science need at least two years of work experience.

Step 8: Look for Work as a Fire Inspector

Fire Inspectors typically work for fire departments and insurance companies. Many fire departments hire from within. For example, a Firefighter may gain the experience and training required to move up to a Fire Inspector position without switching employers.

What degree do most Fire Inspectors have

Post-secondary certificate

We did a survey to ask other Fire Inspectors what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.

Post-secondary certificate

Associate’s degree

High School Diploma

How long does it take

5 to 7 years

Fire Inspectors typically need to complete a training program or earn a college degree. Training programs and Associate’s Degrees often take two years while earning a Bachelor’s Degree takes four years. Fire Inspectors also need to spend at least a few years working as a Firefighter, which also involves several months of training.

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