Fire Investigators


Fire Investigators


Fire investigators analyze the cause, origin, and circumstances of fires involving loss of life and considerable property damage; interrogate witnesses and prepare investigation reports; and arrest and seek prosecution of arsonists. They also investigate explosions. They work for local fire departments, state fire marshal’s offices, and private companies. Approximately 13,000 fire investigators and inspectors are employed in the United States.

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Some Postsecondary Training



Prior experience as a fire fighter or police officer required





Personality Traits

Hands On


Fire investigators and inspectors earned median annual salaries of $62,510 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Earnings ranged from $36,400 to $95,330. As in all occupations, the experts demand higher wages, so private sector investigators’ earnings can go much higher (to the $120,000+ range) if they work as national expert witnesses.

Employers offer a variety of bene...

Work Environment

There is no average workday for investigators. They may spend days at a time in the field conducting scene surveys and interviewing involved parties and then spend the next several days or weeks in the office preparing the reports. Whenever a suspicious fire occurs, they must be ready to jump into action—whether at night, on weekends, or during a holiday. Fire scenes can be very dangerous and u...


Job opportunities for fire investigators are expected to grow about as fast as the average for all careers through 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Although competition for jobs is strong, there will be a need for fire investigators because the U.S. population continues to grow and there will always be buildings to inspect and fires to investigate. The DOL predicts that th...