Construction and Building Inspecting


Quick Facts: Construction and Building Inspectors
2017 Median Pay $59,090 per year 
$28.41 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, 2016 105,100
Job Outlook, 2016-26 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 10,500

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Construction and Building Inspecting Career, Salary and Education Information

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.

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construction and building inspection

Duties of construction and building inspectors

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 walls, 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 also may 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.


Work Environment for Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors held about 105,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of construction and building inspectors were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: 39%

Engineering services: 16%

Self-employed workers: 8%

Construction: 6%

State government, excluding education and hospitals: 5%

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 for construction and building inspectors

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. Some 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 and Building Inspectors

Most employers require construction and building inspectors to have at least a high school diploma and work experience in construction trades. Inspectors also 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.

Some employers may 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.

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 carpenterselectricians, or plumbers. Many home inspectors obtain experience in multiple specialties so that they enter the occupation with a combination of certifications and previous experience in various construction trades.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Inspectors must explain problems they find in order 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 thoroughly examine many different construction activities. 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 climb and crawl through attics and other tight spaces. As a result, they should be somewhat physically fit.


salaries for Construction and Building Inspectors

The median annual wage for construction and building inspectors was $59,090 in May 2017. 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 $35,220, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,340.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for construction and building inspectors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Engineering services: $60,700

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $58,670

Construction: $58,300

State government, excluding education and hospitals: $55,330

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. Some 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.


Job Outlook for construction and building inspectors

Employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Public interest in safety and the desire to improve the quality of construction are factors that are expected to 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

Job Prospects for construction and building inspectors

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.

Employment projections data for Construction and Building Inspectors, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 105,100

Projected Employment, 2026: 115,700

Change, 2016-2026: +10%, +10,600


Careers Related to construction and building inspectors

Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate

Appraisers and assessors of real estate provide a value estimate on land and buildings usually before they are sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed.

Architects

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

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Construction Managers

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

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, and use measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation.

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, including broadcast and communications systems, such as portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

Electricians

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

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. Technicians work with specialists in conducting tests and measuring hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public.

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.

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.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Appraisers and Assessors of Real EstateBachelor's degree$54,010
ArchitectsBachelor's degree$78,470
CarpentersHigh school diploma or equivalent$45,170
ElectriciansHigh school diploma or equivalent$54,110
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and SteamfittersHigh school diploma or equivalent$52,590
Electrical and Electronics Engineering TechniciansAssociate's degree$63,660
Electrical and Electronics EngineersBachelor's degree$97,970
SurveyorsBachelor's degree$61,140
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$91,370
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians$67,720

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Construction and Building Inspectors,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/construction-and-building-inspectors.htm