Security/Fire Alarm Installer

Average SalaryAvg. Hourly Wage
$57,800$26.10
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According to the 2014 FBI statistics, 8.28 million property crimes were reported by local law enforcement agencies in the US.

They included home and commercial burglaries, motor vehicle theft, and larceny.

Only in 2013, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reported almost half a million fires (487,500) resulting in $9.5 billion in damage and 2,855 fatalities.

Fire alarm and security systems are the first line of defense against potential fatalities, property crime, injuries, and expenses.

Those handling the installation of these systems should know and adhere to the training, education, and certification requirements set by their jurisdictions.

According to the NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association), the licensing requirements for the electricians dealing with low voltage installations, including security and fire alarm systems, exist in 33 states.

Security alarm systems are specifically regulated in 19 of those states while 22 of them regulate the fire alarm installers.

At the end of this article, you can find a complete list of them.

Job Duties of Security and Fire Alarm System Installers

Security and/or fire alarm system installers usually work with low voltage, from 0 to 49 volts, systems.

To install, repair, maintain, and troubleshoot these systems, you need to be able to:

  • Read blueprints, schematics, and sketches of systems.
  • Use control systems software programs such as AMAG, Lenel, Genetec, and Software House.
  • Wire low voltage circuits.
  • Install properly graded conduits and cables, such as cat 5/6, coaxial, twisted pair, and fiber.
  • Engage in preventative maintenance and regular system inspections.
  • Install control systems/centers.
  • Use low voltage power sources, including backup DC sources.
  • Pull wire and use terminating devices.
  • Interface between low voltage systems and 110 volt systems.
  • Install switches and relays.

The installation of fire alarm systems can be more complex than the basic systems.

Additional duties of security and fire alarm systems electricians can include:

  • Installation of sprinkler systems.
  • Installing strobes and lighted exit signs powered by backup systems.
  • Familiarity with old fire alarm systems as well as the latest versions like the Simplex 4100 family.
  • Installation of smoke detector/heat detector systems.
  • Use of fire-retardant and fire-protective materials.
  • Installation of ventilation equipment.

Some unique activities can be associated with the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, especially with an audio system, including:

  • Installation of card access systems.
  • Installation and mounting of video cameras and their connecting cable system to a control center.
  • Installation of intrusion systems.
  • Installation of microphones and audio cable.
  • In today’s market, IP video is a popular feature, so the security system should be integrated with a computer.

Education and Training

To know the exact licensing laws of your area, you need to check with your local regulatory agency or the chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

In some jurisdictions, licensing is referred to as a certification.

The licensing regulations for these electricians can vary.

While there can be state set regulations, local jurisdictions can also apply their own licensing requirements.

In some instances, you may need a full electrician license.

It usually includes the apprenticeship, lasting for four to six years.

In the course of it, you will complete a 1,000-hour education program and proceed to hands-on training.

Upon completion of the program, you can take an exam and become a journeyman.

As a journeyman, you can work more independently as a part of a team.

On the other hand, you may not be required to meet the licensing requirements of your jurisdiction.

There are two other licensing requirements you may have to meet, depending on the regulations in your area:

  • Low voltage license (in 19 states) – In some jurisdictions, you can obtain a low voltage electrician license.
    Education and training for it may also involve the apprenticeship.
    However, the process doesn’t take as long as the general electrician license.
    Commonly, it takes from several months to a few years.
  • Specialty certification/license (in 22 states) – Some jurisdictions provide specialized training and education programs.
    You will learn exactly what you need to know about the installation of the fire alarm and security systems.
    These programs can take between a few weeks and a few months and offer hands-on training.
    They can also include the exam.
    Some states offer specialty programs that last a few years.

Besides meeting the government regulations, you should also meet the demands of the industry.

Although it may not be required by law, employers may require:

  • Some types of electrician licenses (even if not required by jurisdictional regulations).
  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field.
  • Professional certification from an independent national certifying body.

Professional Certifications

Security and fire alarm installers can acquire national certifications from private organizations across the US.

All of them have their own certification policies you will have to meet.

You will have to complete a training course, which can be usually taken online, and pass the exam of the sponsoring organization.

National certifications are preferred by many employers.

They may also help you meet the training and education requirements of your area, depending on the jurisdiction.

You need to check with your local regulatory agency to find out the exact licensing and certification requirements.

The most popular national certification programs and organizations providing them include:

  • National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET):
    • Fire Alarm Systems.
    • Video Security Systems.
    • Audio Systems.
  • Electronic Security Association (ESA):
    • Certified Fire Alarm Technician (CFAT).
    • Certified Alarm Technician (CAT).
  • Electronics Technicians Association (ETA):
    • Electronic Security Networking Technician.
    • Certified Alarm Security Technician.
  • Elite CEU (Continuing Education University):
    • AEIT (Advanced Electronic Intrusion Technician).
    • Alarm Level 1.
    • Burglar/Fire Alarm Systems Agent (BASA/FASA).
    • Video Surveillance Systems and Closed Circuit Television.

Salary Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary for fire alarm and security systems electricians raised by 6.5% within five years.

  • $42,110 – 2011.
  • $43,210 – 2012.
  • $43,870 – 2013.
  • $43,910 – 2014.
  • $44,860 – 2015.

The salary of the top 10% of employees in 2015 was $64,350 and was also reported to increase within that same period.

The BLS also reported the top highest-paying areas, as of 2015:

  • Anchorage, Alaska – $64,150.
  • Peoria, Illinois – $61,100.
  • Boston, Massachusetts – $58,870.
  • San Jose, California – $58,860.
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado – $57,250.
  • Buffalo, New York – $57,070.
  • Lowell, Massachusetts – $56,650.
  • Phoenix, Arizona – $56,640.
  • Tacoma, Washington – $56,540.
  • Baltimore, Maryland – $55,320.

You can also see the comparison of salaries sourced to various job ads from July 2016.

These data are provided solely as an example and don’t represent any job offers or provide employment assurance:

  • Fire Alarm, Burglar Alarm Technician with Double R Security in Deer Park, New York: $52,000 – $62,400.
  • Security and Fire Alarm Installer with MultiLink Security in San Antonio: $37,400 – $49,920.
  • Fire Alarm Technician with Kinetix in Columbia, Maryland: $45,000 – $65,000.
  • Fire Alarm Technician with CyberCoders in San Jose: $60,000 – $75,000.
  • Senior Fire Alarm Technician with Rotator Staffing Services in Long Island City, New York: $54,080 – $62,400.
  • Fire Alarm Technician with Outsource in San Diego: $41,600 – $62,400.
  • Security Fire Alarm Technician with Fairview Protection in Allen, Texas: $30,000 – $62,500.

Employment Opportunities

According to the BLS, the employment rate of fire alarm and security installers across the country increased by 20% since 2012.

In 2015, security and fire alarm systems electricians held 64,730 positions.

The major employers for these electricians are:

  • Building equipment contractors – 18,410 employees.
  • Machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers – 680 employees.
  • Investigation and security services – 38,830 employees.
  • Household appliance and electronic goods merchant wholesalers – 1,000 employees.
  • Durable goods merchant wholesalers (misc) – 1,960 employees.

Major employers in the largest job markets nationwide include:

Chicago

  • Tyco.
  • Extended Stay Hotels.
  • Protection One Alarm Monitoring Inc.
  • MasTec Advanced Techonologies.
  • Abt Electronics.

Dallas

  • Facility Solutions Group.
  • Western States Fire Protection Company.
  • Marriott International.
  • Monitronics.
  • Archon Inc.

Phoenix

  • Sterling Bank Services.
  • Safeguard Security and Communications Inc.
  • Kratos Defense.
  • Benson Systems.
  • Armstrong Group of Companies.

New York City

  • TEKSystems.
  • Tyco.
  • Sentry Communication and Security.
  • Liberty Personnel Services.
  • DGA Security Systems.

San Jose

  • Bay Alarm Company.
  • Protection One Alarm Monitoring Inc.
  • Stanley Black and Decker.
  • Delta Construction Partners Inc.
  • Red Hawk Fire and Security.

Regulations by State

There is a database provided by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) with specific licensing requirements for these electricians.

These are the requirements for the security and fire alarm installers at the state level.

If your state isn’t on the list, it means you will have to meet the licensing requirements set by your jurisdiction or obtain a general electrician license:

  • AL – general low voltage systems.
  • AK – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • AZ – fire alarm systems.
  • AR – security alarm systems.
  • CA – general low voltage systems, security alarm systems.
  • CT – general low voltage systems, especially, related to security systems.
  • FL – general low voltage systems, fire alarm systems, security alarm systems.
  • GA – general low voltage systems.
  • IL – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • KY – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • LA – CCTV security systems, security alarm systems, fire alarm systems.
  • ME – general low voltage systems and fire alarm systems.
  • MA – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • MI – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • MN – general low voltage systems.
  • MO – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • MT – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • NE – fire alarm systems.
  • NV – fire alarm systems and general low voltage systems.
  • NJ – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • NM – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • NY – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • NC – general low voltage systems.
  • OK – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • OR – general low voltage systems.
  • RI – general low voltage systems.
  • SC – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • TN – general low voltage systems, including fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • TX – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • UT – security alarm systems.
  • VT – residential and commercial fire alarm systems.
  • WV – fire alarm systems and security alarm systems.
  • WY – general low voltage systems.
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