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How to Become A Fire Marshall

Fire Marshals walk a fine line between police work and firefighting. Usually employed by the local or state fire departments, they are responsible for enforcing the fire code and investigating the causes of a fire. While all fire marshals are trained firefighters, their training and career development is focused more on the law enforcement part of the job.

The role of fire marshals may also vary depending upon the state or region that employs them. In many places, fire marshals may work for the state police force, fire investigation office, finance department, fire education division, building and planning department, etc.    

If you are passionate about doing this and believe that you have what it takes to become a fire marshal in America, then you need to read this guide. It will provide you a step-by-step roadmap to follow your career goals.  

Should I Become a Fire Marshal?

The routine job of a Fire Marshal involves assisting and supervising firefighting teams, carrying out arson investigations, running fire safety drills and evaluating buildings for any potential fire-related dangers, etc. Within the records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, fire marshals are categorized as “Fire Investigators” because many states give them the same authority as that enjoyed by law enforcement officers. 

As a fire marshal, you need to have supreme physical fitness. You must also be willing to undertake both day and night shifts. The following table provides important information about becoming a fire marshal. Details about salary, required education and career outlook have been obtained from the latest data reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


High School Diploma or GED Certificate; an Associate or Bachelor’s degree may be required by some employers.

Major Requirement

Post-Secondary Education and Training in Fire Science


License / Certification

A license may or may not be required by the state. Different certifications are available for trained professionals.




Key Skills

Critical Thinking, Active Listening, Speaking, Quality Control Analysis, Judgment and Decision-Making, Problem Sensitivity, Inductive and Deductive Reasoning, Near Vision, Electronic Mail Software, Presentation and Spreadsheet Software, Office Suite Software, Database User Interface and Query Software.                           

Annual Mean Wage (2019)

$64,730 (Fire Inspectors and Investigators)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

8% (Fire Inspectors)


     Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Fire Marshals

Jobs for Fire Inspectors and Investigators are expected to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028. So, if you aspire to become a fire marshal in the US, this is a good time to follow that dream. Compensation and available opportunities will be dependent on location. Some states will have more vacancies and better salary packages than others.

For instance, Florida had the highest number of employed Fire Inspectors and Investigators (2,290) in 2019. It was followed by Texas (1,680) and New Jersey (1,590). Moreover, California was the best paymaster for Fire Inspectors and Investigators in 2019. It had an annual mean wage of $107,270. The second and third-highest compensation was provided by Washington ($94,410) and Oregon ($93,080).

Steps to Become a Fire Marshal

Follow the procedure mentioned below to become a Fire Marshal in the United States.

Step 1: Acquire the Needed Education

Education requirements for Fire Marshals tend to vary in different places. Some states/employers may let you undergo training with a High School Diploma or GED (General Educational Development) Certificate. Others may require an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Fire Science. In any case, getting a higher level of postsecondary education in the field will ultimately benefit you in your career.

Step 2: Undergo Training

After you have completed your required education, you can apply for a role with your local or state fire department. Other than that, you may also pursue a fire inspector role with an insurance company.

In both instances, you will need to go through on-the-job firefighter training. Most trained Fire Marshals tend to start out as firefighters. To work for your local or state fire department, you will have to undergo training at the fire academy which usually lasts for a few months. You can also look for volunteer firefighting opportunities as a student to gain some experience before seeking employment.

Step 3: Earn a Certification

After completing training, you may go for a professional certification to enhance your skills. Requirements may vary from state to state. Common certifications are listed below.

  • Certified Fire Investigator (CFI)

*Offered by the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI)

  • Certified Fire Inspector I (CF-I)
  • Certified Fire Inspector II (CF-II)
  • Certified Fire Plan Examiner (CFPE)

*Offered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

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