How to Become a Property Inspector: Career Guide
Research the requirements to become a property inspector. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in property inspection.
Do I Want to Be a Property Inspector?
Property inspectors, sometimes called home inspectors, review and evaluate the overall condition of new and existing properties. They are often responsible for inspecting the structural aspects of properties, as well as the heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, and other systems. Property buyers generally contact these professionals prior to purchasing a property in order to adequately assess its condition and determine if any repairs need to be made.
While there are some home inspectors that are self-employed, many work for local governments or in the architectural, engineering, and related services industry. Much of their time is spend on building sites completing evaluations, but inspectors also work in office settings, drawing up reports. Most inspectors work alone, although they may occasionally need to work as part of a team. Inspectors must be comfortable with heights and crawling into small spaces. The majority of home inspectors work full-time; while inspections are generally completed during the day, they may need to spend evening hours writing their evaluations.
Individuals interested in becoming property inspectors are typically not required to possess a college degree, although a postsecondary certificate or degree can be helpful when it comes to gaining skills and finding a job. Professional licensure and certifications are also available to property inspectors and are even required in many states. The following table contains the typical requirements for property inspectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
|Degree Level||No degree required, although some employers may seek candidates with a postsecondary certificate or degree|
|Degree Field||Building inspection technology|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure and certification requirements vary by state|
|Experience||Prior experience working in trades such as construction, plumbing and electrical is beneficial and often required; many positions offer on-the-job training; a bachelor's degree may substitute experience in some cases|
|Key Skills||Strong communication skills; attention to detail|
|Technical Skills||Knowledge of various mechanical systems; able to use many testing devices|
Step 1: Gain Relevant Work Experience
Prospective property inspectors may wish to gain experience that will help them become successful. Individuals who have completed high school or the equivalent can seek employment or apprenticeships with general contractors, plumbers and/or electricians. These types of positions can provide a solid background and thorough understanding of the field and its various components. Experience, while not always mandatory, can be helpful when it comes time to find an actual property inspector job.
- Consider postsecondary education. Although property inspectors are usually only required to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent, nowadays more individuals may choose to enter the field with some postsecondary education or a college degree. Many technical schools and community colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in building inspection technology, which provide the skills and training necessary to become successful in the field. Certificate programs generally last 6-12 months and include courses in blueprint reading, building codes and structural systems. Associate's degree programs may take up to two years to complete and require general education classes in English and social science as well as industry-specific courses in permits, electrical wiring and plumbing principles. Those wishing to expand their knowledge further may wish to pursue a bachelor's degree.
Step 2: Obtain a Property Inspector Position
Depending on the state and/or employer, entry-level property inspectors may receive on-the-job training either as new hires or within a training program. Training may include using measuring instruments to verify dimensions and attaining a thorough understanding of residential building codes. As entry-level employees gain experience, they may move on to more complicated inspections, such as evaluating ventilation systems, assessing roofing and checking for cracks in the foundation. Other duties include preparing a post-inspection review and reporting building code violations.
Step 3: Pass Certification or Licensing Exams
The certification and licensure of property inspectors is regulated in 39 states. According to the BLS, some states may have individual licensing exams, while others may accept certifications from agencies such as the International Code Council (ICC). Requirements generally include a high school diploma, previous work experience and successful completion of an examination. Candidates may consider the ICC's Residential Building Inspector or Property Maintenance and Housing Inspector certification exams.
Step 4: Consider Joining a Professional Organization
Both prospective and certified property inspectors may wish to join a professional organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). These organizations help promote property inspectors and offer them education and employment opportunities. People seeking qualified home inspectors often look to members of these organizations for their personal property inspections.
Step 5: Complete Continuing Education
Most states and certifying organizations require continuing education for recertification or license renewal. Inspectors can stay up-to-date with technological advancements and building code changes by taking professional development classes, attending seminars or participating in state-sponsored training programs.
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