How to Become a Building Inspector

If you want to become a building inspector, you're looking at a career with many opportunities. Building inspectors can work on all levels of the construction industry. Some positions demand a large salary and are based on experience.

Education and training

In the US, qualification requirements for building inspectors vary considerably from state to state. The employment market, however, sets its own standards, and those standards are relatively high. Although the traditional basic benchmark entry level is a High School Diploma with relevant building industry experience, that era has long since given way to much higher formal qualification requirements. The industry standards are engineering and architecture degrees with specific courses in business inspection, construction, architectural drafting, and mathematics and in many cases building inspection technology. Approximately 70% of US building inspectors have formal qualifications at college degree level or higher.

Training is conducted on the job, in many cases in conjunction with studies and learning the role in stages. This training is intensive. The building inspector's reports and data are the basis of major business and legal commitments and obligations for employers.  Standards of performance are extremely high, and so are levels of responsibility. Primary training includes:

  • Supervised site inspections
  • Inspection techniques
  • Inspection technology
  • Practical experience in contract specifications
  • Record keeping
  • Reporting
  • Building codes regulations ordinances and related laws
  • Additional study materials depending on specific job requirements (The different forms of building inspection all have a series of related specializations.)

Licensing

In the US licensing may be required at state and local levels. Qualifications and experience are primary considerations in most jurisdictions, but in certain cases formal examinations are also required. Certification of appropriate competencies like Fire, Plumbing, is required in various roles. This certification is provided by industry associations and is based on standardized requirements. Some certifications include national accreditation, a valuable asset in building inspector careers.

The experience factor

Experience in the industry is an ongoing critical requirement for advancement from base levels. Experience levels are major defining factors in career progression at the top professional grade. The building inspector role requires a thorough understanding of industry practices, technologies and materials, particularly at higher corporate project levels.

Generally the career experience profile is based on clear degrees of complexity:

  • Site inspection
  • Residential inspection
  • Commercial inspection
  • Project inspection

Some forms of experience are appropriate in higher grades of building inspection. Residential inspections, for example, are relevant to many residential projects. But the logic of the career progression is that building inspectors must have credible levels of expertise to match the roles. Employers working with multi-million dollar budgets demand top quality and performance requirements and standards become progressively tougher up the scale.