How to Become a Building Inspector in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for building inspectors. Get the facts about training requirements, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you Schools offering Home Inspection degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Building inspectors make sure that construction work is performed correctly and landlords are maintaining the properties they own. More information on becoming a building inspector is available below in the table.

Training Required High school diploma and on-the-job experience; a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree may be preferred
Education Field of Study Building inspection technology, engineering, architecture
Key Skills Attention to detail, physical stamina, mechanical knowledge, communication
Licensure/Certification State licensure or certification is typically required
Job Growth (2012-2022) 12% (for all construction and building inspectors)*
Median Salary (2013) $54,450 (for all construction and building inspectors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Building Inspector?

A building inspector is a specialist who examines residential, industrial and commercial structures to ensure they're structurally sound and in compliance with local building codes, municipal ordinances and zoning regulations. They also review blueprints and specifications for the issuance of building permits and for compliance with local regulations. If they discover a problem or problems, inspectors may issue stop-work orders or violation notices and confer with owners and authorities about possible corrections.

Step 1: Research Local Requirements for Becoming a Building Inspector

There is considerable variation from state to state in training requirements for building inspectors. For example, according to the National Association of Home Inspectors (www.nahi.org) as of May 2011, you need to have graduated high school, completed 140 hours of education, completed 100 hours of supervised home inspections, and passed a state examination to work as an inspector in New York. By contrast, Texas only requires 90 hours of education, 25 supervised home inspections and passage of an approved exam. In Illinois, you need a high school diploma, 60 hours of education and a passing score on an inspector exam.

Step 2: Enroll in A Building Inspection Program

You can find certificate and associate's degree programs in building inspection technology at community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs relevant to building inspection include those in construction management and architectural engineering. Certificates may be earned in a year, associate's degrees in two years and bachelor's degrees in four years. In addition to subject-specific content, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs require you to complete general education courses in English, the humanities, social science and behavioral science.

Building inspection technology programs are designed to develop your capacity to evaluate the interior and exterior condition of buildings and their mechanical systems. Courses might cover such topics as wood frame inspection, steel inspection, masonry inspection, fire safety codes, plumbing codes and electrical codes. Some programs provide an internship through which you can gain inspection experience.

Construction management programs teach you construction methods, work site processes and the stages of a construction project. They also help you to develop skills in mathematics, analysis, problem solving and business administration. Courses touch on scheduling, cost estimating, construction materials, blueprint reading and site safety. Some programs offer an internship.

Architectural engineering programs impart knowledge about the application of fundamental engineering principles in construction and provide you with the practical skills needed to identify problems, devise solutions and manage a project from start to finish. Construction materials, structural engineering, environmental systems, electrical systems and lighting design are among the subject areas covered in course work.

Step 3: Complete an Apprenticeship Program

Most states require building inspectors to complete an apprenticeship program. As an apprentice you may ride with certified field inspectors and inspector supervisors to gain practical experience and learn the documentation process. You must become familiar with local building codes and ordinances related to safety systems, such as fire exits, alarms, smoke detectors or fire sprinklers. Although a majority of your time is spent in the field, you will likely allocate a portion of the day to administrative and clerical office duties. These include writing reports, holding in-office meetings, examining blueprints and scheduling inspection appointments.

Step 4: Pass a Certification Examination

Once you have satisfied your state's training requirements, you must pass an approved certification examination. Some states administer their own exam. Others use the exams of trade associations such as the International Code Council (www.iccsafe.org), the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org) or the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (www.iapmo.org). The ICC is a major association that develops the codes used for residential and commercial construction in most cities, counties and states.

Step 5: Obtain Employment

Approximately 87,620 construction and building inspectors were employed in the U.S. as of 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Local governments were the largest employers, followed by architectural and engineering services firms. A smaller number of building inspectors had positions with state and federal agencies and consulting firms. From 2012 to 2022, employment was projected to grow 12% to about 114,800 workers.

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