Thanks to a growing concern for public safety and increasingly stringent construction standards toward that end, qualified building inspectors can expect solid employment prospects in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The emerging interest in eco-friendly construction and sustainable design will also add to the demand for building inspectors. Opportunities are best for inspectors with qualifications including practical experience, relevant education and licensure or certification.
There are many subspecialties within the field of building inspection, but the broad role of building inspectors is to certify the structural integrity and safety of buildings.The International Code Council publishes national standards for construction, and inspectors ensure that buildings meet these requirements. In addition, inspectors verify that construction--including new construction, renovations, additions and repairs--complies with safety regulations and local zoning and ordinances.
Building inspectors typically are expected to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent degree; college-level coursework in subjects such as engineering, architecture, home inspection, blueprint reading, drafting and math is preferred. Many community colleges offer programs in building inspection technology. In 2006, 12 per cent of building inspectors had an associate's degree and 26 per cent had a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The amount and type of training required for a building inspector varies by his subspecialty, if any, and the state in which he works. Inspectors generally are expected to learn building codes and standards independently, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they get considerable training on the job. They often work with more experienced inspectors to learn about techniques, regulations, record keeping and reporting.
Many, though not all, jurisdictions require their building inspectors to have some sort of license or certification. Thirty-three states regulate building inspectors to some degree. Some states have their own licensing programs for building inspectors; others require inspectors to be certified through an independent organisation such as the International Code Council or the National Fire Protection Association. Licensing usually requires that building inspectors have a certain amount of experience and education, buy liability insurance and pass an exam, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Taking advantage of opportunities for advancement enhances a building inspector's skills as well as her employment prospects. Affiliation with a widely recognised inspection association such as the International Code Council gives inspectors access to ongoing education and training regarding codes, building techniques and materials, standards of practice, and ethics, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many professional associations offer voluntary certifications for inspection subspecialities.