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How to Become a Home Inspector in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a home inspector. Learn about education and licensing requirements you must meet to enter this profession, and find out about optional certifications to see if this is the career for you.

What Does A Home Inspector Do?

Home inspectors must be familiar with federal, state and local building code regulations. They review construction projects to make sure that all codes are met. They may also be hired to inspect a home that is under contract to be sold. As part of their duties they may review building plans and approve them when all building codes have been followed. Home inspectors may also inspect the electrical and plumbing systems in a structure. When building projects do not comply with codes they may issue violation notices and prevent further work until the project is brought up to code. They keep notes and photographs of the buildings they inspect.

Training Required College certificate program or degree, or a training program offered by a school, real estate firm or home inspection company
Key Skills Evaluation of electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, as well as roofs, foundations and other important elements of a house
Licensure Most states require a license, but requirements vary
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% for all construction and building inspectors*
Median Salary (May 2018) $59,700 for all construction and building inspectors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is a Home Inspector?

A home inspector is an official who evaluates the condition of residential buildings, such as single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and apartment complexes. Their inspections can focus on specific features or assess the level of all-around livability. As a home inspector, you'd photograph interiors and exteriors, take measurements and determine whether a building is in compliance with building codes. Interpersonal skills are a must, since you'd be required to issue violation notices, explain regulations to violators and supervise new inspectors.

Step 1: Prepare During High School

High schools offer numerous opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills you can apply to home inspection. Shop and home maintenance courses can provide some familiarity with construction practices. Courses in algebra, geometry, physics and English are helpful for the portion of an inspector's job that involves mathematical calculation and written communication. You could also consider volunteering with charity organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity.

Step 2: Earn a Certificate

Certificate programs in home inspection are available from community colleges and from 4-year colleges and universities. Training programs of varying length are also available from a number of private schools, real estate firms and home inspection companies. Programs teach you to evaluate a building's systems - electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling - interior and exterior elements, roof, foundation and structural integrity. You also learn to use an assortment of measuring devices and to write inspection reports.

Step 3: Obtain a License

States vary widely in their regulation of home inspectors. Some have no licensing provisions. Others have extensive requirements that include classroom training, completion of inspections under a mentor's supervision, liability insurance and passage of a licensing exam. You might have to participate in as little as 40 or as many as 120 hours of classroom training and complete 25-100 supervised inspections.

States that require licensure may have you take either a test of their own or the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) developed by the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors. As of June 2011, the NHIE exam had been adopted or recognized by 26 states. It consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and has a passing score requirement of 62.5%.

Step 4: Find Employment

A majority of your employment opportunities will be with local governments, real estate firms and home inspection companies. Figures for home inspectors weren't available, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the larger category of construction and building inspectors encompassed about 117,300 workers as of 2018 (www.bls.gov). By 2028, employment was projected to grow 7% to 125,000. Payscale.com reported that as of 2019, most home inspectors earned salaries between $30k and $86k.

Step 5: Obtain Certification

Certification is voluntary, but it can enhance your reputation and career prospects. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) are two prominent organizations in the industry that offer certification. To obtain ASHI certification, you must become a member, complete 250 verified home inspections and pass the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE).

To obtain NAHI's Certified Real Estate Inspector designation, you must become a member, pass the NHIE exam and complete at least 250 home inspections. To maintain certification, you must also submit three home inspection reports each year for review and complete at least 16 continuing education credits.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Building inspectors perform the same tasks as home inspectors, except that they may also inspect businesses, factories and other non-residential structures. They may prepare to enter the field with a high school diploma, construction knowledge, and the same postsecondary training as home inspectors. Civil engineers and architects need bachelor's degrees. They are involved with developing plans for construction and building projects. Like home inspectors, they need to be familiar with reading blueprints and technical documents, and they also need knowledge of building code regulations to ensure that their designs are safe and meet federal, state and local standards. Construction managers also need a bachelor's degree, and they implement the work involved in bringing the designs of architects and engineers to completion. They also need to be able to read blueprints and technical documents and need to be aware of all safety code regulations to ensure that the structure they're working on is up to code.