Should I Become a Housing Inspector?
Housing inspectors use technical, interpersonal, and business skills to communicate the state of construction systems in houses and buildings. They can find employment in the public or private sectors, or be self-employed. Most inspectors work on a full time basis, completing much of their work during regular business hours. When faced with a deadline, longer hours, including those on the weekend or in the evenings, may be required. The majority of inspectors work independently, although they may be asked to work as part of a team on larger projects.
While some employers seek housing inspectors who have completed certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree programs, no formal education beyond a high school diploma is necessary. Experience and on-the-job training play a bigger role in securing employment for housing inspectors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for construction and building inspectors was $57,340 as of May 2015.
|Degree Level||None; postsecondary training for advancement|
|Degree Field||Engineering, architecture, building inspection, or related field|
|Licensure and Certification||Many states require licensure; voluntary certification available|
|Key Skills||Strong communication, organization, and customer service skills; knowledge of accounting, word processing, and spreadsheet software; experience with circuit testers and leak detectors|
|Salary||$57,340 (2015 median for all construction and building inspectors)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association of Home Inspectors, American Society of Home Inspectors, O*Net OnLine.
A college degree isn't necessary for this career but if you do decide to get one, major in relevant areas like engineering, architecture or building inspection. A degree can be helpful if you are interested in advancement. More important than education is experience and training on the job. Up to five years of experience may be necessary and many states require licensure. Voluntary certification is also available.
The skills you'll need for this career include communication, organization and customer service. You'll also need knowledge of accounting, word processing and spreadsheet software, and experience with circuit testers and leak detectors.
Let's take a look at the steps you'll need to become a housing inspector.
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Step 1: Gain Work Experience
Housing inspectors sometimes begin their careers in other construction related fields. Previous work as an electrician, construction worker, or carpenter may be useful because these careers can provide working knowledge of building structure, and system or maintenance requirements. Apprenticeships, which are recommended for home inspector licensing in some states, help inspectors learn the trade before completing inspections on their own.
- Join a professional organization. You should consider joining an organization, such as the American Society for Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. This may be a good opportunity for you to network with other professionals and gain a greater understanding of your career. Other membership benefits include industry publications, guidance with marketing materials, national referral services to potential buyers, and discounts on various costs.
Step 2: Consider Postsecondary Education
Although most housing inspectors are trained on the job, postsecondary coursework in architecture, construction, engineering, and building inspection may be beneficial. Additionally, some employers may prefer to hire inspectors who have completed some postsecondary education. Some technical and community colleges offer degree and certificate programs in building or home inspection technology. Knowledge of building codes can be acquired through independent study. You may also benefit from courses in business administration and finance, especially if you want to open and operate their own housing inspecting firms.
- Complete coursework in marketing and business topics. You may have the opportunity to take courses in business subjects or marketing. Marketing is very important for housing inspectors. You can market yourself and your businesses by creating flyers, designing websites, or building relationships in your community. Formal training in marketing is helpful to achieve these objectives.
Step 3: Get a License
The BLS indicates that 35 states currently have licensure requirements for housing inspectors (www.bls.gov). Licensure requirements vary by state, but often include passing a state exam. Many states that mandate licensure have minimum education and experience requirements. Housing inspectors are required to hold a minimum amount of liability insurance. You should research the specific requirements for the states in which you intend to work.
Step 4: Look into Certification
Certification is offered by professional organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors and the National Association of Home Inspectors. Certification requires completing a set number of real estate inspections and passing an exam. Certification often increases employment opportunities, because it demonstrates your commitment to and knowledge of standard practices and policies within the field of home inspection.
When you want to become a home inspector, you'll want to focus on gaining experience, but getting a degree could help increase your opportunities.