Building Inspector: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Training Requirements

Explore a career as a building inspector. Get the facts about education and licensing requirements, work responsibilities, salaries and potential job opportunities to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Home Inspection degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Building Inspector?

Building inspectors examine and report on different parts and systems of a building to make sure the entire structure meets codes and ordinances, safety regulations and zoning laws. They determine whether a building is structurally sound and safe for its intended use. As a building inspector, you'll use tools to inspect buildings, and you'll also maintain records. You may do general building inspections or specialize in areas such as plumbing or HVACR systems.

The following table gives you an overview of what you need to know about this career.

Degree Required High school diploma required, post-secondary training preferred
Education Field of StudyBuilding inspection, construction technology, engineering
Training Experience in construction trades preferred, on-site training often required
LicensureLicense or certification required by many states
Job Growth (2014-2024)8%*
Median Salary (2015) $57,340*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Job Duties as a Building Inspector?

As a building inspector, you're responsible for reviewing a building's structural soundness and safety features. You may verify that building codes, ordinances, contract requirements and zoning regulations are met for the structure before it's built, as it's being built and after construction is completed. Early in the building process, you may check the structure's foundation and make sure it is safe and that the ground is stable. At later stages in the building's development, you'll make sure it has the necessary fire exits, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems and other alarm systems in accordance with local and state requirements.

Most of your inspection work is done on a visual basis, but you may use a variety of instruments to measure finer details. You'll keep records of your building visits because you may be expected to follow up on your findings. If you find that building codes or permit procedures have been violated and not corrected in a timely manner, then you may report your findings to halt that building's operations.

How Is My Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for building inspectors are expected to increase by 8% from 2014-2024, which is similar to the average for all occupations. As of 2015, 39,210 building inspectors were employed by local government and earned average annual salaries of $59,070. Inspectors who worked in architectural, engineering and related services earned slightly more, taking home an average of $60,730 a year. California, New York and Texas lead the states in the highest number of employed building inspectors, while major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Washington DC and Houston employ significant numbers of building inspectors, according to the BLS. Large jurisdictions often hire inspectors who specialize in particular areas of construction such as plumbing or electrical systems.

What Are My Training Requirements?

You will need a high school diploma to be considered for employment, but many employers may favor candidates with college-level experience in architecture, engineering, building inspection or construction technology. You can enroll in an associate's degree program that focuses on building inspection technology. As a building inspection technology student, you may take courses in fire safety, blueprint reading, mechanical codes, electrical inspection and structural assessment as well as go on field visits to inspect construction sites.

Many states have certification requirements you must fulfill before you may practice as a building inspector. You can earn numerous, relevant certifications through the International Code Council (ICC), such as commercial building inspector or residential building inspector. For each certification, you will need to pass an examination that deals with numerous aspects of building codes, features and procedures. You will also need to keep track of changes in building codes and meet continuing education requirements to keep your certification.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Careers that also require a high school diploma or some postsecondary experience include those of carpenters, electricians and plumbers. Carpenters build, install and repair frameworks and structures and may specialize in different areas. Electricians are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repairing of electrical systems in residential, industrial or commercial settings. Plumbers install and repair pipes in different settings, fix plumbing problems and repair plumbing fixtures.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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