Building inspectors are responsible for ensuring compliance with codes, ordinances, regulation, and specifications relating to buildings, highways, streets, bridges, and many other types of structures. Inspectors make an inspection during the first phase of the construction, as well as many additional inspections during throughout the entire construction process. In 1994, the first set of national uniform building codes was released by the International Code Council (ICC), making it much easier for building inspectors to change locations throughout the country and still be familiar with codes. In areas where severe weather or natural disasters are a concern, building inspectors focus on compliance with safety regulations that protect structures and people from these acts of nature.
Building inspectors specialize in many different areas of the occupation. Plan examiners decide if building plans are sound and will comply with codes and regulations. Electrical inspectors examine electrical systems to ensure they function properly. Elevator inspectors examine devices such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, lifts and hoists, inclined railways, ski lifts, and amusement rides. Mechanical inspectors are responsible for the inspection of mechanical devices. Plumbing inspectors inspect plumbing systems, including drain, waste, and vent lines. Public works inspectors ensure conformity of government construction projects to Federal codes. Home inspectors inspect newly constructed homes.
Building inspectors need to have a thorough knowledge of construction practices in one specific area. They need to have good communication and interpersonal skills. They must be in good physical condition because they are often required to walk around job sites for significant lengths of time. They usually need to have a valid driver's license.
In 2002, building inspectors earned a median hourly wage of $20.01. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $12.53, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $30.10. The following shows the median annual salaries in the industries employing the highest numbers of building inspectors:
- Local government -- $42,260
- Architectural, engineering, and related services -- $40,770
- State government -- $39,610
Training and Education
Employment requirements for building inspectors vary considerably based on geographic location. They should have a thorough knowledge of construction in one particular area, as well as a number of years of experience as a manager, supervisor, or craftworker in the construction and building industries. Most inspectors begin their careers working as a carpenter, electricians, plumber, or pipefitter. Most employers require applicants to have at least a high school diploma, and many search out applicants who have studied engineering or architecture.
Some prefer those with a degree from a community college in building inspection, home inspection, construction technology, drafting, and mathematics. Most inspectors receive a majority of their training on the job, while learning codes and regulation on their own time. They are required to receive continuing education to stay abreast of new developments in the field. Most State require inspectors to be certified. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, building inspectors held about 84,000 jobs. Most were employed by government of by architectural and engineering firms.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of building inspectors is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Greater concern in the general public for safety will create demand for these workers. Opportunities will be best for those with a high degree of experience as supervisors and construction craftworkers, as well as some college education in engineering or architecture.