Whether you’re still in high school or are looking for a second career later in life, it’s important to understand the requirements for any job you’re interested in. If you’ve contemplated converting your DIY know-how into a job as a home inspector, consider what it takes to earn the credentials you’ll need.
What Home Inspectors Do
As a home inspector, those involved in the buying and selling of real estate rely on you to evaluate the home's condition. Home inspectors spend their days looking over houses from top to bottom, side to side, and inside out. They inspect the flooring, lighting, plumbing, structural components, foundations, and most other home parts.
Home inspectors prepare reports of their findings and provide the information to clients, whether a home buyer, a home seller, a real estate agent, or a bank considering funding a loan.
A home inspector might also be known as a building inspector. However, a home inspector should not be confused with a home appraiser. While a home inspector evaluates the home's condition, an appraiser evaluates the value of the property.
Home inspectors can be found in homes or businesses. Work might require crawling through basements or attics in dark, dusty, dirty environments. Some inspectors get on roofs, while others exempt roofs from their services. The job requires working in all weather conditions year-round. Home inspectors drive to job sites throughout their service area, so each day offers a different experience. Yet inspectors use a checklist for auditing every portion of every house, so the work is similar in every home.
Education, Licensing, and Certification
There is no universal standard for becoming certified as a home inspector. In fact, requirements are different for nearly every state, with some including only 60 hours of education and others demanding 200 hours of study.
To take full advantage of job advancement opportunities and pay raises, you’ll need to fulfill the requirements for your state.
Although each state is different, most (but not all) require some form of testing. Some require you to pass a national exam, and some have localized exams of their own. Some require both. In some states, you can take classes online, and in other states, online courses will not be accepted. When looking for classes, make sure they are specific to your state, or you might find yourself throwing money into pre-licensing courses that don’t help you get your license.
If your state doesn’t require licensing, you can still take courses to prove your dedication to providing top-notch and knowledgeable service. If it does require testing, find a place to take your licensing exam.
Once certified, you can work for a home inspection company or go into business for yourself.
Strong Personal Characteristics for Home Inspectors
Every job has certain personal characteristics that help the job be a more natural match for the person. Becoming a home inspector means using problem-solving skills, interpersonal and communication skills, mechanical skills, and time management skills.
If you own your own business, you’ll need to be proficient at completing state-required paperwork, handle the payroll and other employee aspects, and keep up the bill-paying and maintenance at the office.
You’ll need to be organized and have well-developed communication skills. The best way to be successful in the building inspector business is to build relationships with realtors. That means showing up on time, doing what you promise, and delivering reports quickly. Basically, it means being a reliable go-to for agents, so you’re the one they call when they need a home inspector.
Working in the home inspection realm can be physically demanding and requires both indoor and outdoor work. Each job site is different, and inspections aren’t inherently risky, but anything can happen when crawling through narrow spaces or walking on questionable decking. It’s important to have insurance, both for your safety and for the homeowner's peace of mind.
One of the primary advantages of becoming a home inspector is the ability to set your own schedule. That can mean working part-time or full-time. Many home inspectors get into the business after another career or use the job as supplemental income. Part-time work can bring in $45,000 a year. Full-time salary might be around $63,000.
The job outlook within the home inspection industry is strong, especially while the housing boom continues around the world.