A home inspector evaluates and documents the general state of residences for sale; inspections may be performed at the request of the seller, buyer, bank, or real estate agent to determine the value of the home and any hidden problems that may threaten the value. A home inspector must understand the fundamentals of home design, from the foundation and structural integrity to the electrical and plumbing systems.
An inspection can last for several hours, and may require the inspector to investigate cellars or areas beneath the house and attics and/or crawl spaces above the living areas. An inspector may provide additional tips to the owners in regard to improving or maintaining the house. Once the inspection is complete, the inspector writes and submits an official report of his or her findings. Many aspiring professionals enroll in home inspection courses online to learn the various competencies associated with this position.
A home inspector is required to have a license before they can inspect homes. Each state has its own requirements, but all mandate some form of certification. Many community colleges and trade schools offer home inspection certificate programs; in addition, online certificate programs in home inspection are available to those who want to pursue a career in this field, but must also juggle other commitments such as childcare or full-time employment. A certificate can also prepare the student to further their education with an advanced degree in a similar field, such as construction technology.
Students who wish to gain admittance into a program for a home inspection certificate will need to provide a copy of their high school transcripts. In addition, they will need proof of their ACT scores; some enrollees may be required to take a placement test.
Some people choose to obtain their home inspection certification after they have been working in the construction industry or in a related area. It is beneficial for anyone obtaining a certificate to have a background in blueprint reading, algebra, geometry, shop, and reading/writing while they are in high school; these subjects may also be studied during post-secondary courses. Since experience is a primary requirement of becoming licensed, many students work as plumbers, electricians, or carpenters prior to the certification program.
Programs for home inspection certification vary in the amount of time allotted for completion. Most programs allow students to complete the work either part-time or full-time; in this format, the certification can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Online home inspection courses help you prepare for the association and state exams that you must take before obtaining your license. Other topics covered in these programs include:
- Operating and monitoring furnaces
- Reading electrical systems
- Recognizing plumbing materials and structures
- Testing gas and electrical water heaters
- Checking roofs
Inspectors must also learn about building codes, regulations, and city and state ordinances to ensure a given building meets all applicable requirements. A supervised inspection may be included as part of the student’s training.
What’s Next for Home Inspection Certificate Holders?
Once the student has completed the course work, he or she must prepare for the state licensing exam. The American Society of Home Inspectors and the National Association of Home Inspectors are two of the exams most often used to evaluate students. Since the licenses expire, they must be renewed every few years upon completion of required continuing education courses.
The median salary for inspectors in 2014 was $56,040, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 10% earned more than $88,000 while the bottom 10% earned a median salary of $34,000. The projected job growth rate for home inspectors is 8%, which is close to the average for all occupations.