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How to Become a Home Inspector

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Becoming a Home Inspector: Training, Earnings, Prospects

If you have always been fascinated by homes, buildings and real estate, consider becoming a home inspector. These inspectors visit houses, inspect them visually and provide home buyers and sellers with reports of the dwelling's condition and functionality. This information is also used by banks and guarantee agencies to determine whether a buyer qualifies for a mortgage.

Many working parents become home inspectors, because the hours in this industry are often compatible with raising a family. Training programs for new home inspectors are affordable and can be completed online or via evening or weekend classes. In addition, many home inspectors are self-employed and can set their own hours.

Job Description

Home inspectors perform an objective visual inspection of a home, taking note of the functionality of the structure, foundation and systems, such as heating and cooling, electricity and plumbing. After completing the inspection, a home inspector prepares a report for the client.

People usually request home inspections when shopping for a new place to live so that they know whether a house or condo is safe to live in and whether it will need expensive repairs. Sellers may also hire a home inspector so they can make needed repairs.

Education Requirements

The educational requirements for becoming a home inspector vary by state. Most states require home inspectors to either hold a professional license or be certified by a recognized professional organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Many states require a combination of coursework, supervised practice and passing a licensing exam. Community colleges and trade schools offer home inspection training programs, and many states allow you to complete at least some of your coursework online. Being able to take some, or all, of your courses online can be a great time-saver, particularly if you are juggling family responsibilities.

After or during the completion of your coursework, you may be required to perform several home inspections under the supervision of an experienced inspector. The home inspector then provides written documentation of the inspections to your state's licensing board as part of your application package. Alternatively, your school or course provider may incorporate field experience into its program, so you'll have a chance to complete inspections while completing your education.

Some states that require licensure or certification may waive their requirements if you can show that you're already employed in a construction- or building-related trade or profession. If you are an architect, professional engineer or licensed contractor, check your state's laws to find out whether home inspection is a permissible activity under your current professional license.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for construction and building inspectors as of May 2020, was $62,860. The lowest 10 percent of earners made less than $37,850, and the top 10 percent earned more than $101,170.

About the Industry

If you become a home inspector, you can expect to spend a lot of time on the road traveling between properties. The job itself can be quite physical, so good mobility is essential.

Expect to be climbing both stairs and ladders, and bending and kneeling as you inspect a building's foundations, walls, floors and systems, and sometimes crawl spaces and attics. Not all of the homes and spaces you will inspect will have heat or air conditioning, so you will also have to be able to tolerate temperature extremes, at least for a short period of time.

When you aren't performing inspections, you will likely be writing up reports. Many home inspectors are self-employed, so you will get to choose when and where to complete your reports. If you work for a home inspection firm, you may be expected to compile reports at the company's office.

Years of Experience

According to a survey by PayScale.com, home inspectors can expect to earn more as they gain experience in their field. Below is a chart showing the correlation between years on the job and average median salaries:

  • 0 to 5 years: $41,000 
  • 5 to 10 years: $48,000 
  • 10 to 20 years: $51,000 
  • 20+ years: $55,000.

Job Growth Trend

The BLS projects that the demand for construction and building inspectors will decline by about 3 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Remote inspections is expected, in part, to reduce the need to replace retiring inspectors. The BLS also notes that job opportunities for self-employed inspectors, including home inspectors, are affected by economic conditions, particularly the health of local real estate markets.

If you become a home inspector, paying attention to fluctuations in real estate sales and employment levels can help you anticipate changes in the demand for your services.