How to Become a Home Inspector
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A home inspector is responsible for evaluating houses to identify potential problems. Home inspector jobs are on the rise, and they make a good living. The mean annual wage for a home inspector is $66,470, but the top 90% of home inspectors make $101,170 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Home inspectors don't typically need a traditional bachelor's degree. Instead, they can choose to complete a certificate course, which is much cheaper than attending a four-year school. Read on to learn how to become a home inspector.
What Does a Home Inspector Do?
Home inspectors mostly work to evaluate homes for sale. They survey properties and look for signs of damage, infestations, structural failure, fire hazards, and foundation issues that could make the home unsafe. Home inspectors also study the home's electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems to ensure that everything is in good working order before the sale.
How to Become a Home Inspector
Before you can land a job as a home inspector, you will have a leg up on other candidates by getting work experience in a construction trade field. Having prior work experience on your resume may also help you get a higher starting salary.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have at least six months of work in a related field. Try to get a diverse range of experience to show your competency in multiple areas. You might consider getting experience as an electrician, carpenter, or plumber.
Once you have some real-world experience, the next step is to get a home inspector certificate.
One of the most common certificate programs is the International Association of Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) General Pre-Licensing Course, an online program containing 149 hours of individual courses. Some states require home inspectors to complete this program, while others don't. This program is free with a InterNACHI membership, costing $49 per month or $499 per year.
Most states require the National Home Inspector Examination® to license home inspectors. The states that are unregulated include California, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, and Maine. North Carolina has its own state-regulated license process.
In most states, the National Home Inspector Examination® costs $225 per test. It may take several months to prepare for the exam, using the provided study materials and practice quizzes.
Once you get a job as a home inspector, think about joining professional groups that can help you network, find work, and advance your career. Home inspectors often get work via referrals, so meeting people in the construction field, including real estate agents, could help you increase your pipeline of business.
InterNACHI, the North American Association of Home Inspectors (NAAHI), and the National Home Inspector Association (NHIA) are some prominent groups to consider joining, but keep in mind that they have an annual membership fee.
Home Inspector Salaries and Job Growth
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Projections Central, a U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored website.
Top 10 States With the Highest Job Growth
- Utah: 26.9%
- Colorado: 20.3%
- Nevada: 17.1%
- Texas: 14.2%
- Georgia: 13.6%
- Oregon: 12.4%
- Oklahoma: 12.3%
- Montana: 12.1%
- Florida: 11.6%
- South Carolina: 11%
Career Paths for Home Inspectors
When you take a home inspector certificate course, you should consider getting a job as a skilled trade worker. Working as an electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician can help you learn how home systems work, which will be beneficial when you start inspecting homes on your own.
If you want to boost your resume before job hunting, getting an internship at an established firm can make you a more competitive candidate. Interns typically get exposed to different projects and tasks, which can come in handy as a home inspector.
Once you're certified and have some experience in a skilled trade, you can get your first job as a home inspector.
Once you have some experience under your belt, you might consider starting your own home inspection company. If you develop relationships with local real estate agents or firms, you can develop a steady pipeline of referral work in your area.
Another option is to become a home inspection franchise owner. Some home inspection companies can help you open a franchise location in your area, and they provide the tools and resources to start finding clients. Just keep in mind that opening a franchise business typically requires a large upfront cost.
John Mease is an ASHI-certified inspector. A former engineer, Mease has more than 25 years of experience and has performed more than 10,000 home inspections.
If you think you might be interested in becoming a home inspector, keep his tips top of mind:
Attend a local American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) meeting.
Everyone is welcome and you will meet other inspectors and have the opportunity to ask questions and listen. ASHI has a ride-along program where you can gain knowledge and exposure attending an inspection with an experienced home inspector. You may discover this is what you wanted to do your whole life or may find out it is not for you.
If you're used to a nine to five, this isn't going to be it.
Since it's a personal time business, the hours are often skewed. The person buying the house is working Monday through Friday, so they'd like to have you there Saturday and Sunday.
Having a background in construction or the trades helps but is not required.
Having an interest is the more important part -- if you actually want to get into houses or if you're the weekend warrior.
Know your goal.
Do you want to work for a multi-inspector firm or operate independently? There are nationwide firms that will handle a lot of the aspects of the business for you -- they'll also take a percentage of your pay.
Having control of your business as an independent inspector is wonderful but comes with responsibility for all aspects of the business. Are you familiar with accounting? Are you familiar with insurance licenses? You're going to learn a lot -- maybe some stuff you never wanted to learn.
Courses in Home Inspection Programs
When you join a home inspection education program, you will take different courses to help you develop various skills required for the job. Courses may include training on:
- How to inspect attics, crawlspaces, and basements
- How to check for moisture
- How to operate common tools
- How to perform a home inspection safely
- How to inspect pools and hot tubs
Components of a Successful Home Inspector Career
To become a successful home inspector, you must have a certain set of skills:
Getting Financial Help with Your Home Inspection Program
If you choose to take a home inspection course, search for scholarships and grants that can help you cover the cost of tuition or the enrollment fee. You also might be eligible for federal aid if you attend a community college program. Here is one scholarship you might qualify for:
J.D. Grewell Education Scholarship
- Who qualifies for the scholarship: Those 18 or older with a high school diploma or GED. Applicants are eligible if they have not already taken the National Home Inspector Examination.
- How much it covers: $2,500 or $5,000, depending on the course selected
- Deadline: March 1, June 1, September 1, December 1
- Other important information: Requires an essay and references
Related Careers at a Glance
- Growth rate: 8% (much faster than average)
- Median salary: $56,900
- Education/training required: High school diploma or GED, postsecondary non-degree award
- Growth rate: 4% (about average)
- Median salary: $50,590
- Education/training required: Certificate, postsecondary non-degree award
- Growth rate: 8% (much faster than average)
- Median salary: $97,180
- Education/training required: Skilled trade experience, optional associate or bachelor's degree
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