Building Inspector: Educational Requirements and Employment Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a building inspector. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Building inspectors ensure the quality and safety of buildings. They must be familiar with local building codes and have a working knowledge of construction methods and materials, zoning restrictions and blue prints. Employers may favor applicants with a degree from a community college in an area such as building inspection technology or construction technology.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent minimum requirement; associate's degree or coursework in related field often preferred
Other Requirements Experience in construction may be required; certification, licensure and/or registration requirements vary by location
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*12% for all construction and building inspectors
Median Salary (2013)*$54,450 for all construction and building instructors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

The minimum educational requirement for becoming a building inspector is a high school diploma or GED certificate. However, most employers expect candidates to have completed additional education in the form of coursework in such subjects as engineering or architecture. Some community colleges offer associates degrees or certificates in related subjects, such as building inspection or construction technology. Building inspectors often have considerable work experience in a construction trade. Increasingly, potential building inspectors are earning a college degree, which, in some cases, is regarded as equivalent to previous experience.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, from 2012-2022, employment was expected to increase by 12% for construction and building inspectors (www.bls.gov). As of May 2013, the BLS stated that the median annual salary for construction and building inspectors was $54,450.

Certification and Licensure

A state may require that a building inspector obtain licensure, certification or registration before beginning work. Requirements vary according to the state or the jurisdiction. Generally, a candidate needs to meet experience and education prerequisites, as well as passing an exam. A state or municipality may have its own specific license or may have a candidate earn a certification from an association, such as the International Code Council (www.iccsafe.org).

Prospective employers generally prefer candidates with professional certification. Certifications attest to an inspector's mastery of his or her profession. The International Code Council offers a voluntary certification program. An inspector must pass an examination to obtain certification in one of a number of categories, such as residential inspector, green building or Certified Building Official (CBO).

Career Overview

Of the many types of construction-related inspectors, building inspectors specialize in such structures as houses, apartment buildings and commercial buildings. Their primary objective is to ensure that new construction, alterations or repairs are performed according to an approved plan and applicable building codes.

The building inspection process begins with a plan approved by the city or county. The building inspector visits the site during the first phase of work and periodically thereafter. He or she maintains records of inspections using paper forms, computer applications and photographs. Additionally, specialized building inspectors, including structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical inspectors, may be required for larger or complex jobs.

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