Most employers require construction and building inspectors to have at least a high school diploma and considerable knowledge of construction trades. Inspectors typically learn on the job. Many states and local jurisdictions require some type of license or certification.
Most employers require inspectors to have at least a high school diploma, even for workers who have considerable related work experience.
Employers also seek candidates who have studied engineering or architecture or who have a certificate or an associate's degree that includes courses in building inspection, home inspection, construction technology, and drafting. Many community colleges offer programs in building inspection technology. Courses in blueprint reading, vocational subjects, algebra, geometry, and writing are also useful. Courses in business management are helpful for those who plan to run their own inspection business.
A growing number of construction and building inspectors are entering the occupation with a bachelor's degree, which can often substitute for related work experience.
Training requirements vary by state, locality, and type of inspector. In general, construction and building inspectors receive much of their training on the job, although they must learn building codes and standards on their own. Working with an experienced inspector, they learn about inspection techniques; codes, ordinances, and regulations; contract specifications; and recordkeeping and reporting duties. Training also may include supervised onsite inspections.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Because inspectors must possess the right mix of technical knowledge, work experience, and education, employers prefer applicants who have both training and experience in a construction trade. For example, many inspectors have experience working as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Many home inspectors combine knowledge of multiple specialties, so many of them enter the occupation having a combination of certifications and previous experience in various construction trades.
Similarly, most states require home inspectors to follow defined trade practices or obtain a state-issued license or certification. Currently, 36 states have policies regulating the conduct of home inspectors; a few states are considering adding licensure or certification requirements for home inspectors.
Home inspector license or certification requirements vary by state but may require that inspectors do the following:
Inspectors must have a valid driver's license because they must travel to inspection sites.
Communication skills. Inspectors must have good communication skills in order to explain any problems they find and to help people understand what is needed to fix the problems. In addition, they need to provide a written report of their findings.
Craft experience. Inspectors perform checks and inspections throughout the construction project. Experience in a related construction occupation provides inspectors with the necessary background to become certified.
Detail oriented. Inspectors must thoroughly examine many different construction activities, often at the same time. Therefore, they must pay close attention to detail so as to not overlook any items that need to be checked.
Mechanical knowledge. Inspectors use a variety of testing equipment as they check complex systems. In order to perform tests properly, they also must have detailed knowledge of how the systems operate.
Physical stamina. Inspectors are constantly on their feet and often must crawl through attics and other tight spaces. As a result, they should be somewhat physically fit.