How to Become a Building Inspector


Before diving into the preparation for any career field, you first need to determine if it's a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a building inspector:


• You have an interest and skill set in building systems, such as plumbing and electrical

• You are interested in leveraging your construction knowledge to keep industry standards high

• You enjoy analyzing information and preparing reports

• You are able to read, analyze, and interpret blueprints, maps, technical procedures, and governmental regulations

• You are able to be diplomatic when dealing with property owners who may not agree with being your inspection reports


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a building inspector. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Building Inspector

Although the educational requirements will likely vary by employer, you typically need at least an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering, building construction, or a closely related field.





General Job Description

Building inspectors, also known as construction inspectors, ensure that building construction meets local and national building codes and regulations, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. The codes and regulations they ensure compliance with cover areas such as public health and fire safety. The codes and regulations also cover energy conservation and building accessibility.



Typical Job Duties

• Inspect buildings that are under construction in order to ensure they comply with safety codes and regulations

• Inspect plumbing, electrical, and other systems to ensure that they meet code

• Use survey instruments, metering devices, and test equipment to perform inspections

• Suggest ways to improve the cost-effectiveness of materials and energy use

• Identify elements of building project that are non-compliant with applicable codes and regulations

• Ensure all identified problems have been rectified prior to approving a building for occupancy

• Review building and site plans and approve those that are compliant

• Issue permits for proposed construction, relocation or demolition projects

• Prepare reports pertaining to building project activity



Experience You'll Need

Most employers require candidates in this field to have at least 3-5 years of progressively responsible building construction or design experience, with supervisory experience being highly desirable.


Many employers will also except advanced education in place of work experience, and vice versa, provided the applicant can demonstrate required core competencies, such as knowledge of local and national building codes and regulations.



Certification Needed to Work as a Building Inspector

Depending on the requirements of the employer, you may need certification in one or more recognized building trades (such as electrical, plumbing, mechanical) by a nationally or regionally recognized licensing body in order to be employed as a building inspector.


Many employers of building inspectors also require that you have a valid motor vehicle operator’s license.



Skills and Knowledge Needed 

To be effective as a building inspector, you'll need to posses a certain set of skills and a certain knowledge base. This skill set and knowledge base will allow you to perform your job duties with competence:


• Working knowledge of residential and commercial building systems, such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems

• Working knowledge of construction codes and ordinances

• Working knowledge of inspection methods, and legal procedures involving enforcement of building codes and ordinances

• Knowledge of fire alarm and sprinkler systems

• Ability to read blueprints, drawings and plans

• Able to communicate effectively in oral and written form

• Able to enforce regulations firmly and impartially



Helpful Characteristics to Have

In order to enjoy performing the duties involved in this profession, you need to have certain personal characteristics. These personal traits will help keep you interested in your job as a zoning inspector, and will help you maintain a positive attitude towards your job duties.


• An interest in building systems, such as plumbing and electrical

• An interest in using your knowledge of construction to keep standards high

• Enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for work

• Enjoy enforcing regulations

• A diplomatic and tactful disposition

• The ability to remain calm when others become hostile or aggravated

• Enjoy analyzing information

• Enjoy directing the work of others, such as inspection or zoning technicians





Career Advancement Possibilities for Building Inspectors

With enough experience, the career of a building inspector can evolve into a variety of different roles. Building inspectors for example, can become:


• Department supervisor or manager

• A specialist, such as fire or electrical safety

• Land use planner

• Self-employed as a consultant



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of building inspectors varies depending on their level of education, their level of experience, their level of aptitude, the discretion of their employer, and many other factors.


Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Safety Codes Inspectors occupational group (which includes building inspectors) earn an average salary of $84,121 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 24, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Construction and Building Inspectors occupational group is $53,450 per year.



Who Employs Building Inspectors?

Municipal governments typically employ building inspectors, although they can also be hired by private building inspection companies that are commissioned by municipal governments.



Current Job Opportunities in This Field

Our job board below has building inspector postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Similar Career Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to building inspector, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Construction Manager

Development Permit Technician

Quality Control Specialist

Zoning Inspector

Environmental Auditor




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this profession.


Occupations in Alberta:Home Inspector.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 31, 2019.

Construction & Extraction:Construction and Building Inspectors.” (September 4, 2019). Business & Financial - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 31, 2019.

Explore Careers:Construction Inspectors.” (January 3, 2019). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved October 31, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Building Inspector

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant for this profession can be found using on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a building inspector. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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