The experience requirements to becoming a building inspector vary, but there are a few options you can follow to increase your chances of getting hired. In general, more experience in the classroom and the field is helpful in increasing your chances of impressing employers.
Building inspectors have a wide variety of specialties. Most work for city or county building departments, ensuring that new construction and renovation adheres to state and local building codes, and that construction sites comply with zoning regulations and safety guidelines. Building inspectors get hands-on and classroom training before becoming licensed and certified.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or higher generally preferred|
|Other Requirements||Experience or on-the-job training typically required; state and local licensure and certification requirements vary by state|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8%|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$60,030|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Five Steps to Become a Building Inspector
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma or College Degree
There are many paths to becoming a building inspector, but the first step is always earning a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employers often prefer job applicants who have studied architecture or engineering, or who have earned an associate's degree in building inspection technology or a related major (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, employers looking to hire a building inspector may accept a college degree in place of experience.
Step 2: Get Practical Training
Building inspectors need in-depth knowledge about the construction industry, including building safety and fire prevention codes. Though training requirements vary, typically inspectors learn codes and ordinances on their own, and get the rest of their training on the job. Supervised by an experienced inspector, trainees learn about contract specifications, inspection techniques, record-keeping and other aspects of the trade. Training may also include trial inspections.
Step 3: Enroll in a Building Inspection Course
The length and depth of required building inspection courses may vary between states, but at some point, prospective building inspectors must take a course that outlines local building codes and expectations. Sometimes these courses are part of a larger associate's or bachelor's degree program in construction, plumbing or engineering. Some required courses may be offered online or through distance learning.
Step 4: Enter an Inspector Apprenticeship Program
An apprenticeship with a certified building inspector helps to augment the knowledge gained from classroom experience with hands-on training in inspection. Employers may prefer job candidates with prior experience, even if the candidate's state doesn't have an apprenticeship requirement.
Step 5: Become Certified as a Building Inspector
Certification requirements for building inspectors vary from state to state, and sometimes even from city to city. Some states have exams specifically for building inspectors, while others require certification from organizations such as the International Code Council (ICC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). State licensing and certification requirements often include passing an exam, purchasing liability insurance, and having a minimum level of education and building inspection experience.
There are just a few steps that you can follow to gain the knowledge and skills needed to find work as a building inspector. Completing high school and getting an associate's degree is the first step before getting field experience and entering a building inspection program. After you have completed your first steps into the building inspection field, you may want to take an apprenticeship course before finally getting your certification, which will enable you to get licensed to work in your state of preference.