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How to Become a Construction or Building Inspector

Most employers require construction and building inspectors to have at least a high school diploma and considerable knowledge of construction trades. Construction and building inspectors typically learn informally on the job. Many states and local jurisdictions require some type of license or certification.


Training requirements vary by type of inspector, state, and local jurisdictions. In general, construction and building inspectors receive much of their training on the job, although they must learn building codes and standards on their own. Working with an experienced inspector, they learn about inspection techniques; codes, ordinances, and regulations; contract specifications; and recordkeeping and reporting duties. Supervised onsite inspections also may be a part of the training.


Most employers require workers to have at least a high school diploma, even for workers who have considerable experience.

Employers also seek candidates who have studied engineering or architecture or who have a certificate or an associate’s degree that includes completion of courses in building inspection, home inspection, construction technology, and drafting. Many community colleges offer programs in building inspection technology. Courses in blueprint reading, algebra, geometry, shop, and English also are useful.

A growing number of construction and building inspectors are entering the occupation with a bachelor’s degree, which often can substitute for experience.

Licenses and Certification

Many states and local jurisdictions require some type of license or certification. Typical requirements for licensure or certification include experience; minimum education, such as a high school diploma; and passing a state-approved exam.

Some states have individual licensing programs for construction and building inspectors. Others may require certification by associations such as the International Code Council, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and National Fire Protection Association.

Similarly, most states require home inspectors to follow defined trade practices or get a state-issued license or certification. Currently, 35 states have regulations affecting home inspectors. Requirements for a home inspector license or certification vary by state but may include having a minimum level of education, having a set amount of experience with inspections, purchasing liability insurance of a certain amount, and passing an exam. The exam is often based on American Society of Home Inspectors and National Association of Home Inspectors exams. Most inspectors must renew their license every few years and take continuing education courses.

Inspectors must have a valid driver’s license because they must travel to inspection sites.

Work Experience

Because inspectors must possess the right mix of technical knowledge, experience, and education, employers prefer applicants who have both formal training and experience. For example, many inspectors previously worked as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Home inspectors combine knowledge of multiple specialties, so many of them come into the occupation having a combination of certifications and previous experience in various construction trades.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Home inspectors must have good communication skills to be able to explain any problems they find and to help people understand what is needed to fix the problems.

Craft experience. Although not required, having experience in a related construction occupation provides inspectors with the necessary background that may help them with the certification process.

Detail oriented. Inspectors must thoroughly examine many different construction activities, often at the same time. Therefore, inspectors must pay close attention to detail so as to not overlook any items that need to be inspected.

Mechanical knowledge. Inspectors use a variety of testing equipment as they check complex systems. In addition to using such equipment, they must also have detailed knowledge of how the systems operate.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition