How To Become a Building Inspector

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 23, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated July 23, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a building inspector involves determining if existing, new and upcoming buildings are structurally sound and safe for their occupants. These professionals are required to have advanced knowledge of municipal and state codes, ordinances and zoning regulations, which requires specialized education and training. In this article, we explore the duties and requirements for this role as well as discuss the steps of how to become a building inspector.

What does a building inspector do?

A building inspector conducts structural audits of existing and new buildings to ensure they are stable and have the necessary safety provisions. Other specific duties include:

  • Identifying potential problems or compliance issues based on local, state and federal codes and ordinances

  • Giving recommendations and approvals for repairs and alterations

  • Reviewing the plans of new constructions and providing feedback

  • Visiting construction sites to check elements such as proper drainage, elevation and building location

  • Monitoring construction work and carrying out structural inspections at every building phase

  • Issuing occupancy certifications after being satisfied with the quality of workmanship and the soundness of repairs or construction

Related: 12 Jobs in Construction That Pay Well

The average salary for building inspectors

Building inspector salaries may vary depending on their industry, employment type and geographical location. A candidate's level of education, experience and relevant certifications may also impact potential earnings.

Data has not been collected on building inspectors, but here are some related job titles and their salaries to help you understand this professional's earning potential:

  • Inspector: $15.56 per hour with possible overtime compensation at $6,000 per year

  • Construction inspector: $24.11 per hour with possible overtime compensation at $9,360 per year

  • Senior inspector: $25.39 per hour with possible overtime compensation at $10,407 per year

  • Salaries range from $7.25 to $55.15 per hour.

How to become a building inspector

These professionals are required to complete specialized education, gain years of industry experience and pursue vital certifications that enable them to expertly perform their job. Here are several steps you can take to become a building inspector:

  1. Get a relevant education.

  2. Obtain work experience and training in building inspection.

  3. Develop the necessary skills.

  4. Earn a professional certification.

1. Get a relevant education

While a high school diploma or its equivalent is generally enough to get started in this profession, it will be more advantageous to have an associate degree, bachelor's degree or a professional certification. You can pursue relevant industry programs that offer class instruction as well as hands-on training at a four-year college, community college, vocational school or accredited online institute. Review a program's coursework and career placement rates to determine the program for you.

Here are some disciplines you can consider:

  • Construction technology

  • Mechanical inspection

  • Structural and construction inspection

  • Building inspection technology

  • Building safety and code administration

  • Building code enforcement

  • Inspection and testing for welding

  • Concrete construction inspection

  • Masonry construction inspection

  • Steel construction inspection

Having an educational background in architecture and engineering or technical training as an electrician and a plumber can also prove beneficial. In these cases, focus on coursework that covers building inspection, home inspection, drafting, building codes and ordinances and construction technology. It can help to take courses in construction materials, principles of concrete, roofing, heating and cooling systems and plumbing and electrical inspection. Further, you should know about different residential and commercial building types and their construction specifications and how to read blueprints.

2. Obtain work experience and training in building inspection

Experience in the construction industry based on previously completed education as an engineer, architect, plumber and electrician can improve your chances of finding work in this profession. If you don't have this experience, consider signing up for a mentoring program with experienced building inspectors. You can follow your mentors around on their inspection rounds and observe how they conduct structural inspections. You will learn about inspection techniques, check building codes and ordinances, write detailed reports and communicate with clients, employers and other inspectors.

Additionally, you will also build up a valuable network of contacts in the construction and real estate industry when you pursue work experience and training. This step may help you advance your career and connect you to job availability, work tips and more.

3. Develop necessary skills

These professionals require a variety of hard and soft skills to perform their job. You can practice and refine these skills during your education and work experience. Here are some necessary skills for building inspectors:

Attention to detail

Building inspectors must have a keen eye and be thorough in their inspections. This skill enables them to identify any errors that need to be addressed. Building inspectors must ensure a high level of accuracy in their reports as they are instrumental in determining the safety of the structures and their inhabitants.

Communication

These professionals must communicate their findings and recommendations in a variety of formats. They must write accurate and thorough reports, including clear instructions for building improvement. They also speak with construction teams, employers, contractors and clients.

Physical fitness

They are likely to walk a lot on the job as well as climb and descend stairs. Being in good shape can ensure these professionals are efficient and comfortable while completing inspections.

Computer literacy

Building inspectors use meters and a wide range of other testing equipment to precisely document a structure's status. Knowledge and familiarity with computer systems and other technology can help these professionals when using these tools. They may also use a variety of software and online resources, such as automated permit system software, to complete their work.

Organization

They may inspect several buildings and construction projects in the same period, requiring strong time management skills. They also need to keep individual records of the project details and requirements.

Read more: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

4. Earn a professional certification

Depending on your city and state, you may need to get a professional certification and renew your work license periodically to work as a building inspector. Many employers prefer candidates with professional certification as it indicates that you keep yourself updated on current industry knowledge, requirements and developments. Earning voluntary professional certifications can also help you secure more leadership roles or increase your earning potential.

Certifications can be earned in a variety of building inspection specialties, including electrical work, plumbing, environmental impact and safety compliance. Some of the certifications you can earn are:

Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI) Certification

Offered by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), the CEI certification is best for licensed and experienced electricians who want to become inspectors. The requirements include accredited electrical training, apprenticeship, and education or work experience. Interested candidates must complete a certification exam that tests their knowledge of electrical codes, best practices and inspection processes.

Certified Professional Inspector

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, which is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, offers this certification to building inspectors who want to refine their expertise. They must pass the Online Inspector Examination, become a member of the organization, complete their practice course and complete mock inspection reports.

Commercial Building Inspector B2 Certification

This certification is offered by the International Code Council and tests candidates' knowledge of the International Building Code and other necessary construction requirements. To earn this certification, candidates must complete a training and code manual review course and pass the examination.

FAQ for building inspectors

Here are some commonly asked questions to help those interested in becoming a building inspector:

What are the working hours of building inspectors?

Building inspectors typically work 40 hours per week. While most of them hold full-time jobs and work regular business hours, some may also work overtime in the evening or on the weekend. The workload will often determine the work hours. Also, weather conditions or construction schedules may impact working hours.

Related: What are Full-Time Hours?

What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector?

Building inspectors generally work for a city or county and have the certification to inspect residential and commercial construction projects for code compliance and structural soundness. They also monitor the construction work at different stages and sign an occupation certificate on completion to signify that the work complies with municipality approved plans and is ready for occupation.

Home inspectors are not affiliated with any governmental agency. Homebuyers hire them before buying houses to determine their condition and any required repairs. Their report can also influence the price and sale of the house. They are required to be licensed by their state.

What is the work environment like?

Generally, building inspectors work for government departments, construction companies, architectural firms, real estate businesses, construction contractors and homeowners. They may confer with clients and builders by phone, email or in person. While at work on construction sites, building inspectors wear protective clothing and use various tools to take measurements and samples. These professionals typically check blueprints and write reports in an office setting.

Can I become a self-employed building inspector?

With the relevant education, experience and industry contacts, being a self-employed building inspector can be a flexible, fulfilling and lucrative career. As a business owner, you may have to work longer hours and on weekends and holidays as well.

Jobs similar to building inspectors

If you're seeking a job as a building inspector or another construction-related occupation, there are multiple options to consider. Here's a list of 10 jobs that are similar to building inspectors:

  1. Construction manager

  2. Electrician

  3. Architect

  4. Carpenter

  5. Building engineer

  6. Land surveyor

  7. Mechanical assessor

  8. Town planner

  9. Draftsperson

  10. Cost estimator

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