A state license or certification is required to pursue a career in building inspection. Although it is possible to pursue this career with only a high school diploma, postsecondary education in the fields of engineering, architecture and construction may be beneficial and increase job prospects for those interested in a career as a building inspector.
Those with building inspection certification ensure the quality and safety of buildings, roads, bridges and other structures. They also ensure that structures conform to applicable codes, ordinances and approved plans. Those who work in this field must be very familiar with building codes, blueprints and plans, construction methods and building materials. A number of careers are available in this field, including building inspector, home inspector and public works inspector. While a minimum education of a high school diploma is required, many employers prefer candidates with on-the-job training or who have pursued advanced education options, either in a classroom or online.
|Career Title||Building Inspector||Home Inspector||Public Works Inspector|
|Educational Requirements||High school diploma||High school diploma||High school diploma|
|Other Requirements||State licensure or certification||State licensure or certification||State licensure or certification|
|Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024)||8%||8%||8%|
|Median Salary* (2015)||$57,340||$57,340||$57,340|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Several occupations are available to those who hold certification in building inspection, including building inspectors, home inspectors, and public works inspectors. All three of these careers require a high school diploma, and candidates often receive on-the-job training. Licensure requirements vary by state. In addition to licensure, many employers also require inspectors to hold Code Council certification.
Building inspectors ensure that new construction, alterations or repair of houses, apartment buildings and commercial buildings are performed according to an approved plan and applicable building codes. The building inspection process typically begins with a plan approved by the city or county. The building inspector visits the work site during the initial phase of work and throughout the project. He maintains records of inspections using paper forms, electronic applications and photographs. Specialized building inspectors may be needed for larger or more complex projects. For example, separate inspectors may be required for the concrete, structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical elements of a structure.
Home inspectors perform detailed inspections of existing residential and commercial buildings, usually as part of a real estate transaction. Their services are typically requested and paid for by a prospective buyer to determine the condition of a structure prior to finalizing its purchase. Home inspectors will examine all structural components and systems, including the foundation, roof, heating and cooling system, electrical circuits, plumbing and appliances. They are trained to identify code violations but do not have the authority to enforce their correction. They include all of their observations in a written report that is typically provided to the parties involved in the property transaction.
Public Works Inspector
Public works inspectors perform inspections on construction projects involving such structures as public buildings, bridges, dams, canals, roads and public transit projects. They may specialize in specific elements of a project, such as reinforced concrete or structural steel. Their primary objective is to ensure the project conforms to contract specifications. They maintain records of tasks performed and materials used. These records document a structure's conformity to building plans and materials, which help determine labor and material payments to contractors.
While the minimum educational requirements for most building inspector jobs typically include a high school diploma, most employers expect candidates to have completed additional education in subjects like engineering or architecture. Some community colleges offer associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees or certificates in building construction technology. Courses can be taught in the classroom or online. Many building inspectors receive training on the job, which gives them considerable work experience in a construction trade, though a relevant degree can take the place of an employer's work experience requirement.
Licensing and certification requirements can vary by state. Some states require building and home inspectors to obtain a state-issued license, which requires a specific level of education and work experience as well as passing an exam. Continuing education is usually required to renew licensing every few years. Since public works inspectors are commonly employed by a government agency, they typically must pass a civil service exam.
Many employers prefer professional certification. One option is to pursue Code Council certification, offered by the International Code Council (ICC). ICC offers voluntary national certifications for residential inspectors, commercial inspectors and green buildings, as well as other areas of construction.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that from 2014-2024, employment of construction and building inspectors is expected to increase by 8%. In May 2015, the BLS stated that the median annual salary for these professionals was $57,340.
Building, home and public works inspectors ensure that roads, buildings, bridges and other structures have been constructed properly and are safe. A minimum of a high school diploma and state license or certification is required to enter this career field, although postsecondary education in architecture, construction or engineering may be an asset.