Fire Alarm Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Fire alarm technicians require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Fire alarm technicians coordinate proper fire alarm placement and install, test, and repair systems. They usually have completed a related training program or associate's degree. Some states require licensing, and professional certification is available.

Essential Information

Fire alarm technicians have the important job of helping protect individuals from the dangers of fire. They do this by designing, installing, maintaining and repairing fire alarm systems within homes or businesses. Training is available through programs, such as an Associate of Science in Fire Alarm Technology, found at various community colleges or through the Electronic Security Association (ESA).

Required Education Postsecondary training or associate degree
Other Requirements Professional certification; some states require license
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% for security and fire alarm systems installers*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $43,420 for security and fire alarm systems installers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Fire alarm technicians view electrical layouts contained on the builder's blueprints to determine the appropriate fire alarm system and ensure compliance to electrical and fire codes. They discuss their findings and recommendations with the client and, if the client agrees, install and test the system to make sure it's properly working. Technicians are also responsible for repairing any problems with the system and replacing defective parts.

Daily Job Duties

Before beginning a job, fire alarm technicians provide clients with cost estimates for system installation. During installation, holes are drilled either in the wall or ceiling to place electrical wiring and circuits. Next, technicians mount the system, attach the wires and adjust the sensitivity of the system, based on manufacturers' instructions. They also examine and test the system to find any loose connections or circuit malfunctions. If there are problems after installation, technicians might need to repair wires and circuits or order replacement parts.

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Requirements

Fire alarm technician training typically involves completing either an associate degree program from a community college or a course through the ESA. An associate degree program typically includes coursework in fire alarm systems, basic electrical wiring, fire alarm codes and national electrical codes. After graduation, individuals might earn the Fire Alarm Systems certification, which is administered by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).

The ESA also offers a training course in fire alarm systems, which covers installing and repairing systems, using hand and power tools, and reading blueprints. After completing the course, graduates can sit for a written certification exam, administered by the ESA, to obtain the Certified Fire Alarm Technician (CFAT) credential. Besides training, some states require technicians to obtain licensure.

Salary and Job Outlook

Fire alarm and security systems installers earned a median annual salary of $43,420 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projected that this occupational group would grow at a faster-than-average pace of 13% over the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov).

Fire alarm technicians can either complete a related associate's degree or receive training and certification through the ESA to learn to place, install and maintain fire alarms. Fire alarm technician positions are growing at a faster than average rate for all occupations and in 2015 offered a median annual salary of about $43,000.

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