Construction and Building Inspectors

Summary

construction and building inspectors image
Construction inspectors take detailed notes during inspections.
Quick Facts: Construction and Building Inspectors
2014 Median Pay $56,040 per year
$26.94 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 101,200
Job Outlook, 2014-24 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 8,100

What Construction and Building Inspectors Do

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Work Environment

Construction and building inspectors spend considerable time inspecting worksites, alone or as part of a team. Some inspectors may have to climb ladders or crawl in tight spaces. Most work full time during regular business hours.

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. Inspectors typically learn on the job. Many states and local jurisdictions require some type of license or certification.

Pay

The median annual wage for construction and building inspectors was $56,040 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Public interest in safety and desire to improve the quality of construction should continue to create demand for inspectors. Certified construction and building inspectors who can perform a variety of inspections should have the best job opportunities.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for construction and building inspectors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of construction and building inspectors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about construction and building inspectors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Construction and Building Inspectors Do About this section

Construction and building inspectors
Home inspectors inform potential homebuyers of a home’s deficiencies.

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Duties

Construction and building inspectors typically do the following:

  • Review plans to ensure they meet building codes, local ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications
  • Approve building plans that are satisfactory
  • Monitor construction sites periodically to ensure overall compliance
  • Use survey instruments, metering devices, and test equipment to perform inspections
  • Inspect plumbing, electrical, and other systems to ensure that they meet code
  • Verify alignment, level, and elevation of structures to ensure building meets specifications
  • Issue violation notices and stop-work orders until building is compliant
  • Keep daily logs, including photographs taken during inspections
  • Provide written documentation of findings

People want to live and work in safe places, and construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets codified requirements. Construction and building inspectors examine buildings, highways and streets, sewer and water systems, dams, bridges, and other structures. They also inspect electrical; heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR); and plumbing systems. Although no two inspections are alike, inspectors perform an initial check during the first phase of construction and followup inspections throughout the construction project. When the project is finished, they perform a final, comprehensive inspection and provide written and oral feedback related to their findings.

The following are examples of types of construction and building inspectors:

Building inspectors check the structural quality and general safety of buildings. Some specialize further, inspecting only structural steel or reinforced-concrete structures, for example.

Coating inspectors examine the exterior paint and coating on bridges, pipelines, and large holding tanks. Inspectors perform checks at various stages of the painting process to ensure proper coating.

Electrical inspectors examine the installed electrical systems to ensure they function properly and comply with electrical codes and standards. The inspectors visit worksites to inspect new and existing sound and security systems, wiring, lighting, motors, photovoltaic systems, and generating equipment. They also inspect the installed electrical wiring for HVACR systems and appliances.

Elevator inspectors examine lifting and conveying devices, such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, lifts and hoists, inclined railways, ski lifts, and amusement rides. The inspections include both the mechanical and electrical control systems.

Home inspectors typically inspect newly built or previously owned homes, condominiums, townhomes, and other dwellings. Prospective home buyers often hire home inspectors to check and report on a home’s structure and overall condition. Sometimes, homeowners hire a home inspector to evaluate their home’s condition before placing it on the market.

In addition to examining structural quality, home inspectors examine all home systems and features, including the roof, exterior walls, attached garage or carport, foundation, interior, plumbing, electrical, and HVACR systems. They look for violations of building codes, but home inspectors do not have the power to enforce compliance with the codes.

Mechanical inspectors examine the installation of HVACR systems and equipment to ensure that they are installed and function properly. They may also inspect commercial kitchen equipment, gas-fired appliances, and boilers. Mechanical inspectors should not be confused with quality control inspectors, who inspect goods at manufacturing plants.

Plan examiners determine whether the plans for a building or other structure comply with building codes. They also determine whether the structure is suited to the engineering and environmental demands of the building site.

Plumbing inspectors examine the installation of systems that ensure the safety and health of drinking water, the sanitary disposal of waste, and the safety of industrial piping.

Public works inspectors ensure that the construction of federal, state, and local government water and sewer systems, highways, streets, bridges, and dams conforms to detailed contract specifications. Workers inspect excavation and fill operations, the placement of forms for concrete, concrete mixing and pouring, asphalt paving, and grading operations. Public works inspectors may specialize in highways, structural steel, reinforced concrete, or ditches. Others may specialize in dredging operations required for bridges, dams, or harbors.

Specification inspectors ensure that construction work is performed according to design specifications. Specification inspectors represent the owner’s interests, not those of the general public. Insurance companies and financial institutions also may use their services.

Some building inspectors are concerned with fire prevention safety. Fire inspectors and investigators ensure that buildings meet fire codes.

Work Environment About this section

Construction and building inspectors
Building inspectors often work outdoors to check the exterior structure of a house.

Construction and building inspectors held about 101,200 jobs in 2014. About 48 percent were employed in government, with most working for local governments. An additional 28 percent were employed in the architectural, engineering, and related services industries. About 1 in 10 were self-employed in 2014.

Although construction and building inspectors spend most of their time inspecting worksites, they also spend time in a field office reviewing blueprints, writing reports, and scheduling inspections.

Some inspectors may have to climb ladders or crawl in tight spaces to complete their inspections.

Inspectors typically work alone. However, some inspectors may work as part of a team on large, complex projects, particularly because inspectors usually specialize in different areas of construction.

Work Schedules

Most inspectors work full time during regular business hours. However, some may work additional hours during periods of heavy construction activity. Also, if an accident occurs at a construction site, inspectors must respond immediately and may work additional hours to complete their report. Nongovernment inspectors—especially those who are self-employed—may have to work evenings and weekends. This is particularly true of home inspectors, who typically inspect homes during the day and write reports in the evening.

How to Become a Construction or Building Inspector About this section

Construction and building inspectors
Inspectors often have a combination of certifications and previous experience in various construction and maintenance trades.

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

Education

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

Employers also seek candidates who have studied engineering or architecture or who have a certificate or an associate’s degree that includes courses in building inspection, home inspection, construction technology, and drafting. Many community colleges offer programs in building inspection technology. Courses in blueprint reading, vocational subjects, algebra, geometry, and writing are also useful. Courses in business management are helpful for those who plan to run their own inspection business.

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

Training

Training requirements vary by state, locality, and type of inspector. 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. Training also may include supervised onsite inspections.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Because inspectors must possess the right mix of technical knowledge, work experience, and education, employers prefer applicants who have both training and experience in a construction trade. For example, many inspectors have experience working as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Many home inspectors combine knowledge of multiple specialties, so many of them enter the occupation having a combination of certifications and previous experience in various construction trades.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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

Similarly, most states require home inspectors to follow defined trade practices or obtain a state-issued license or certification. Currently, 36 states have policies regulating the conduct of home inspectors; a few states are considering adding licensure or certification requirements for home inspectors.

Home inspector license or certification requirements vary by state but may require that inspectors do the following:

  • Achieve a specified level of education
  • Possess experience with inspections
  • Maintain liability insurance
  • Pass an exam

The exam is often based on the American Society of Home Inspectors and National Association of Home Inspectors certification exams. Most inspectors must renew their license periodically and take continuing education courses.

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

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Inspectors must have good communication skills in order to explain any problems they find and to help people understand what is needed to fix the problems. In addition, they need to provide a written report of their findings.

Craft experience. Inspectors perform checks and inspections throughout the construction project. Experience in a related construction occupation provides inspectors with the necessary background to become certified.

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

Mechanical knowledge. Inspectors use a variety of testing equipment as they check complex systems. In order to perform tests properly, they also must have detailed knowledge of how the systems operate.

Physical stamina. Inspectors are constantly on their feet and often must crawl through attics and other tight spaces. As a result, they should be somewhat physically fit.

Pay About this section

Construction and Building Inspectors

Median annual wages, May 2014

Construction and building inspectors

$56,040

Construction trades workers

$40,150

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for construction and building inspectors was $56,040 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,830.

Most inspectors work full time during regular business hours. However, some may work additional hours during periods of heavy construction activity. Also, if an accident occurs at a construction site, inspectors must respond immediately and may work additional hours to complete their report. Nongovernment inspectors—especially those who are self-employed—may have to work evenings and weekends. This is particularly true of home inspectors, who typically inspect homes during the day and write reports in the evening.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, construction and building inspectors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2014.

Job Outlook About this section

Construction and Building Inspectors

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Construction trades workers

10%

Construction and building inspectors

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Public interest in safety and the desire to improve the quality of construction are factors that may continue to create demand for inspectors. Employment growth for inspectors is expected to be strongest in government and in firms specializing in architectural, engineering, and related services.

Although employment of home inspectors should continue to grow, some states limit entry into the field to those with related work experience or who are certified. Furthermore, due to shrinking budgets, some state and local jurisdictions may prefer to hire only those who have certification in multiple specialties.

Job Prospects

Certified construction and building inspectors who can perform a variety of inspections should have the best job opportunities. Inspectors with construction-related work experience or training in engineering, architecture, construction technology, or related fields are also likely to have better job prospects.

Larger jurisdictions usually hire specialized inspectors with knowledge in a particular area of construction, such as electrical or plumbing. Conversely, due to limited budgets, smaller jurisdictions typically prefer to hire combination inspectors with broad knowledge of multiple disciplines.

Those who are self-employed, such as home inspectors, are more likely to be affected by economic downturns or fluctuations in the real estate market.

Employment projections data for construction and building inspectors, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Construction and building inspectors

47-4011 101,200 109,200 8 8,100 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of construction and building inspectors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2014 MEDIAN PAY Help
Appraisers and assessors of real estate

Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate

Appraisers and assessors of real estate provide an estimate of the value of land and the buildings on the land usually before it is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed.

Bachelor's degree $52,570
Architects

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor's degree $74,520
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures—such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, rafters, and bridge supports—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,820
Cost estimators

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a particular product or industry.

Bachelor's degree $60,050
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,110
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from, and within businesses, homes, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,660
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation.

Associate's degree $59,820
Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Bachelor's degree $82,050
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs).

Bachelor's degree $93,260
Surveying and mapping technicians

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,770
Surveyors

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

Bachelor's degree $57,050
Construction managers

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Bachelor's degree $85,630

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about building codes, certification, and a career as a construction or building inspector, visit

International Code Council

National Fire Protection Association

For more information about coating inspectors, visit

NACE International

For more information about construction inspectors, visit

Association of Construction Inspectors

For more information about electrical inspectors, visit

International Association of Electrical Inspectors

For more information about elevator inspectors, visit

National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities International

For more information about education and training for mechanical and plumbing inspectors, visit

International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials

For information about becoming a home inspector, visit

American Society of Home Inspectors

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc.

O*NET

Construction and Building Inspectors

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Construction and Building Inspectors,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/construction-and-building-inspectors.htm (visited February 10, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2014 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,540.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2014 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2014, the median annual wage for all workers was $35,547.