A fire investigator can work either privately or as part of an insurance firm, aiding in the investigation of fire-related incidents. The job of a fire investigator is to determine the causes of the incident, and use their knowledge to improve fire safety procedures when this is applicable. The process of investigating a fire usually involves collecting debris and other samples from the scene and analyzing them, as well as determining the primary cause of the fire and whether or not it could have been intentional. Usually, the process is designed in such a way that it rules out arson as soon as possible, to narrow down the police’s investigation.
A Bachelor’s degree in a subject related to criminal justice or forensics is almost universally required for becoming a fire investigator. Other fields that are accepted include engineering and chemistry. Experience working as an investigator (not necessarily related to arson) is always beneficial to candidates. Some countries have organizations that provide training courses for the job, though passing one doesn’t automatically guarantee employment as a fire investigator – it’s merely a factor that can aid candidates.
Fire investigators tend to earn more or less the same as fire inspectors, though in some places their salary can be substantially higher. The median for 2009 was $45,000, and the annual salary is between $41,000 – $67,000. The performance of the fire investigator is a direct factor in deciding their salary, and it’s not rare for experienced fire investigators to earn substantially more than the market average.