Building Code Official: Job Duties & Requirements
Learn how to start a career as a building code official or inspector. Find out how much education is needed to enter the field, as well as what to expect in terms of employment opportunities and salary.
Career Definition for a Building Code Official
Building code officials or inspectors visit and confirm that existing or new structures are safe, and that they are in compliance with federal and local codes, contractual specifications and zoning laws. Areas of specialization may include cement or steel structures. In general, building code officials may evaluate building plans, inspect construction sites and finished buildings, issue citations or provide corrective advice. In addition to local municipalities, they may be self-employed or work on staff for architectural or engineering firms.
|Education||High school diploma, construction experience, and certification/licensing requirements, depending on the state|
|Job Skills||Communication, interpersonal, physical stamina, strong math, analytical, attention to detail, knowledge of mechanical testing equipment, and construction and trade experience|
|Median Salary (May 2015)*||$57,340|
|Job Skills (2014-2024)*||8% (Construction and building inspectors)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
In general, building inspectors must have a high school diploma and experience in construction, and the majority of training takes place on the job. Some states also require building inspectors to become certified or licensed. Certificate and associate degree programs, available at community colleges, can provide aspiring inspectors with a background in architecture, construction technology, drafting, blueprint reading and materials science. Equivalent work experience may be obtained by completing a bachelor's degree program in a relevant field of study.
Good communications and interpersonal skills, as well as physical stamina, are key for building code officials. Strong math and analytical abilities, attention to detail and knowledge of mechanical testing equipment are essential. Construction and trade experience can be helpful, especially for candidates who are pursuing state certifications.
Employment and Salary Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of building and construction inspectors is expected to increase by 8% nationwide from 2014 to 2024, an average rate of growth in comparison to all other occupations. Inspectors employed in the field in May 2015 earned median annual wages of $57,340, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
A couple of similar job paths include:
Construction managers oversee the budgetary, planning and supervisory aspects of commercial, public and residential buildings, among other types of projects. While a high school diploma and experience may suffice for smaller projects, a 4-year degree in construction engineering, management or science, or even architecture, is rapidly becoming the industry standard. According to the BLS, job opportunities for construction managers are expected to increase by an average rate of 5% between 2014 and 2024. Those who were employed in the industry in May 2015 were paid median annual wages of $87,400 (www.bls.gov).
Surveyors use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to calculate and document property boundaries for cartography, construction or engineering purposes. Completion of a bachelor's degree program, especially one that has been approved by ABET, along with experience and a license are the usual requirements for working in the field. Nationwide, employment prospects for surveyors nationwide are expected to decrease by 2% between 2014 and 2024, as reported by the BLS. The BLS also reports that, as of May 2015, surveyors were paid median annual wages of $58,020 (www.bls.gov).