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How to Get Work as a Field Inspector
When a property owner suffers a loss, insurers and lenders need an inspector to visit the property and assess the damage. Field inspectors may also look at property to assess its value. To get work in this field, you’ll only need a high school diploma, although it can help to have a trade school education. On-the-job field inspector training will usually be provided.
Field Inspector Requirements
You won’t need a college education to be a field inspector, although it could make you more competitive. Many insurers and lenders will require at least a high school diploma, but you can also increase your chances of landing a job by getting an associate’s degree. Some employers will look for candidates educated in areas related to drafting and building inspection, and some schools have associate’s degrees in building inspection technology that could apply.
Regardless of your education, you’ll get field inspector training once you’ve arrived on the job. Having an education can help you skip to a more advanced position in the field without putting in years of experience first, but you’ll still need training in your new employer’s preferred approach.
Types of Field Inspectors
There are multiple types of inspections a field inspector may be called upon to do. They include:
- Collateral inspections – Ensuring leased equipment is located where a lessee claims it is
- Commercial inspections – Conducting inspections for a commercial property to protect an insurer’s investment
- Construction progress inspections – Determining the progress of new construction
- Delinquency inspection – Checking in on delinquent mortgagees
- Drive-by inspections – Taking quick photos and writing up a simple report
- Home condition inspections – Inspecting a foreclosed home
- Insurance inspections – With a new policy, checking for any hazards and verifying specs
- Occupancy inspections – Verifying that a home is owner-occupied
Field Inspector Job Duties
According to the Society of Field Inspectors, the job of a field inspector involves performing property inspections for lenders and insurers. You may be assigned to travel to residential or commercial properties to conduct these inspections. You’ll be taking an in-depth look at the property in question and documenting your findings.
Field inspector requirements typically also include taking photos at the location. You’ll need a good camera and decent photography skills to ensure you don’t miss anything, but your employer will likely provide the equipment and training necessary. You’ll probably be expected to spend a great deal of time on the road, possibly working unconventional hours, especially in the wake of a natural disaster.
Field Inspector Salary
If you meet the field inspector requirements, you’ll find that it can be a lucrative career, particularly if you don’t have a four-year degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists an average annual salary of $65,670 for the category of "claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators." Those who work for the government average the highest salary, at $73,460, with those working directly for health and medical insurance carriers average the lowest salary, at $59,780.
The Society of Field Inspectors cautions that only 1 percent of all firms hiring field inspectors place ads online. The organization offers a directory as well as networking opportunities for professionals. Many field inspectors work independently, contracting with lenders and insurers to cover local areas on an as-needed basis.
Job Outlook for Field Inspectors
The BLS predicts job growth of 10 percent through 2026, which is a faster rate than average. Those who get field inspector training often find their experience translates to other areas, making it easy to shift to meet current demand. If there are no natural disasters in an inspector’s area, it may be wise to shift to covering new commercial buildings if the number of businesses there is increasing.
Organizations like the Society of Field Inspectors can help aspiring field inspectors determine locations with current openings. There will always be a demand for inspectors to visit foreclosed properties, for instance, but that demand may be higher when the economy is experiencing a slump rather than when things are going well.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.