An arson investigator determines the causes of fires, particularly when arson or criminal negligence is suspected.
Arson investigators gather evidence by investigating the scene of a fire or explosion, interviewing witnesses, and then analyzing this data and information in order to come to a conclusion about the cause. They also prepare reports related to suspicious fires and explosions that may be used by government bodies, insurance companies, attorneys, and others.
Most arson investigators are required to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent as well as specialized training either on-the-job or at an academy.
Many employers require aspiring arson investigators to have a high school diploma or its equivalent, but a candidate can increase his or her chances of employment by pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree in fire science or a related discipline.
Such programs generally include instruction on analytical approaches to fire investigation; technical, legal, and social aspects of arson; and the use of technology in arson investigation.
Specialized training in fire investigation can further boost an applicant’s resume as well as prepare him or her to take on a management role more quickly.
A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that fire investigators and inspectors’ mean annual wages were $53,030, although these may vary by education level and experience.
Regarding job outlook, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts “as fast as the average” growth in employment of fire investigators and inspectors, noting that as the population and number of buildings constructed continues to increase, so should job openings in the sector.
Competition for jobs will be intense, though, so those interested in such positions could greatly increase their chances by pursuing higher education, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree, as well as specialized training in fire science and investigation.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics