Code Compliance Officer: Job Description and Requirements
Code compliance officers examine construction projects to ensure that they conform to government regulations and laws. Code compliance officers need to have proper training and knowledge of codes, ordinances, and regulations and sometimes, an associate's degree.
Code Compliance Officer Job Description
Code compliance officers are known by a few different titles, including building inspectors and code enforcement officers. They work primarily in the construction industry, with their chief job duties centered on inspecting buildings for safety and structural integrity. They are tasked with ensuring that buildings meet building codes set forth by the International Code Council (ICC) as well as other local principalities that have a stake in the location that is being developed. The codes can encompass a variety of safety or environmental measures and laws.
Some code compliance officers may be responsible for visiting buildings prior to their construction to verify that the plans are up to engineering code standards. During construction, another officer may focus on structural integrity and fire safety. Other officers may examine the electrical components of the building, such as the wiring, lighting, air conditioning, and appliances. Similarly, the plumbing, used either for drinking water or for waste disposal, must meet certain regulations.
In commercial locations, code compliance might include the inspection of elevators or escalators. Even rides at an amusement park or ski lifts must be inspected. In dealing with public work projects like highways, bridges, or dams, compliance must be in strict accordance with local, state, and federal codes.
Compliance officers conduct their jobs primarily through visual inspection, but they may also use equipment like survey instruments or tape measures. They must document all of their findings with both photographs and written reports; therefore, code compliance officers generally use a laptop computer on site.
When problems arise, compliance officers contact the appropriate party and allow time for alterations to achieve minimum code standards. If codes are not met within the time allotted, a stop-work order is issued that halts the project until codes are met. The officer must approve the work before construction can begin again.
Code Compliance Officer Education Requirements
There is not a strict standard of education for code compliance officers as requirements vary greatly by state. First, officers need intimate knowledge of construction practices and materials. A high school education is a minimum educational credential, but some college coursework is a common requirement, and considerable on-the-job training is usually necessary.
Training often includes supervised inspections with an experienced officer, but in general, officers gain an understanding of the codes and ordinances though self-teaching. Ultimately, experience in the construction trade may be helpful for individuals attempting to enter the profession.
Aspiring code compliance officers may substitute a college degree for some training. An associate's degree in building inspection can provide the backdrop that employers might seek. Common courses in these programs include:
- Building codes and requirements
- Provisions to codes
- Inspection basics
- Construction principles
- Energy systems
- Blueprint reading
Certification or Licensure
Many states require that code compliance officers obtain professional certification or license; therefore, officers should check with their appropriate state licensing office. Requirements generally include a minimum amount of education and work experience. The ICC may provide certification and exams acceptable to employers or certain states.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of building and construction inspectors is projected to increase by 18% between 2010 and 2020, a rate consistent with the national average predicted for all occupations. The median salary earned by all construction and building inspectors, including code compliance officers, was reported as $53,450 a year by the BLS in May 2012.
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