Home inspectors are a key element in ensuring the safety of homes all over the United States. Whenever a home is sold, it has to be inspected to ensure that the new owners are not in for a nasty surprise. Everything gets checked, from the structural integrity to potential fire hazards and possible poor plumbing.
If you like walking with a clipboard and an all-knowing small smile on your face, this may be the job for you. So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a home inspector!
The Education Needed
You will need to pass a specific exam and licensing, but more on that later. As mentioned, this is a multifaceted job, as you will be examining every inch of every house and detailing every aspect of it.
It will be impossible to expect you to be an expert in all of it, but you should have a well-rounded working knowledge of how everything works and what would constitute a safe home with no faults vs. a home that will need some intervention before the all-clear can be given.
College education optional…
A high school diploma is a must, and after that, you can either get a college education or opt for some hands-on experience as an apprentice in a related field.
If you would like to go to college, the following degrees and courses would be helpful:
- Electrical, Structural, Environmental, or Civil engineering
- Industrial Hygiene
- Public Health and Safety
Not only will a college education give you a nice salary bump, but some aspects will help you deal with specific situations. You may not need to be a mechanic to see that a car is broken down, but if you were, it would help you to be able to figure out how to fix it. The same goes for a home inspection.
Jack of all trades…
If you have the educational background to know exactly why the structure is not sound, other than the obvious crack in the wall, you could do better reporting and recommend how to fix the cause of the problem before your next return. The same will apply to any other problems you may spot along the way.
Unfortunately, you may not be an expert on all fronts, but a degree may offer you major and minor coursework that will cover as many aspects of it as possible. Essentially, you could be a ‘Jack of all Trades.’
Experience In Related Fields
If a college degree is not your thing, you can opt for a more technical, hands-on approach and try out a trade first. Many home inspectors either go this route as a stepping stone. Others have successful trade careers until they hit an age where they would like to do slightly less physical labor. This does not mean you will have a passive lifestyle by any means, but that is another talking point entirely.
For now, you may decide to either start as a construction worker, plumber, HVAC technician, or electrician. These jobs may have some pre-requisite training, but many companies do in-house training as an apprentice with theoretical work and tests in addition to practical hours.
Move between trades…
You can either get full training in one area or move between trades to get a more rounded experience. The longer you stay in each or any of the fields, the better your salary will be once you decide to become a home inspector.
As with the degree, each area you cover in-depth will give you a leg up on how you report problems, as you will be able to make recommendations on either how a wall needs to be reconstructed, how a fuse box needs to be repaired, or what is the cause of the plumbing issue.
Home Inspector License And Certification
You will have to pass a series of online courses, and you will receive a certificate at the end, which will then qualify you for licensing. You can decide to get licensed and certified for any US state specifically, for Canada as a whole, or if you’d like, an international license.
An international license from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) will generally exceed the standards of any localized certification. However, depending on where you would like to work in the world or the US, you may still need to have a localized license and certificate.
International license may be limited…
Your international home inspector license may also be limited to the countries you include in the application. It also does not cover every country in the world. If you plan on going international, you can look at the countries that fall under this license on the InterNACHI website.
The online courses will cover the following themes:
- Safe practices and standards.
- Residential plumbing, roofing, HVAC, electrical, structural, attic, deck, moisture intrusion, mold, insulation, ventilation, interior, and exterior inspection.
- Green building, commercial building, and log home regulations.
- Radon measurement (possible gas leaks) and identifying wood-destroying organisms.
- Communication and customer service.
All of the courses total to an amount of 149 hours and are available to complete for free. This means that you can dedicate a couple of hours per day to them and you could probably complete all your courses in a few months.
You choose how many licenses you want…
You will, however, have to pay for a state, regional or international license separately. It can be either a monthly fee or an annual fee with a small discount. It is really up to you, on how many licenses you would like to take out. Individual state licensing costs around $49 per month or an annual fee of $490. Your courses and licensing can all be done via the InterNACHI website.
Once you are educated, certified, and licensed, you can move on to…
How To Become A Home Inspector?
The last step, once you have done all the necessary pre-requisites to qualify, is to apply for jobs. Many career sites have vacancies listed. However, some companies or government offices don’t always list their vacancies; they are sometimes only advertised briefly on their websites or filled by word of mouth or a recruitment agency.
If you would like to approach them proactively or look for opportunities in your area, your best bet is to find a place that will need you regularly, rather than waiting for a “for sale” sign to go up on a home lawn.
The following places might have a steady income for you:
- The city’s zoning/health and safety offices.
- Real estate agencies and moguls/companies that own lots of properties.
- Fire departments.
- Insurance companies.
You don’t always have to target cities that are under development, either. Even fully developed or “completed” areas will need your services regularly. The quality of a building will decline over time, and all aspects of it will have to be upgraded and maintained. As mentioned, every time a home is going to be transferred to new ownership, a home inspection will be needed.
How Much Is This Job Worth?
On account of the importance, it is priceless really, as all jobs related to safety are. However, as with any job, the salary will depend on the demand.
A home inspector’s salary can range from $30K-$90K per year, depending on your experience and the area you cover. In addition, you may get a commission added to your package. This commission will be determined by who you work for and who you partner with.
Cross referrals and commissions…
If your salary is low, you could get larger commissions based on how many clients you handle for your employer. It is also common for contractors to do cross-referrals and get commissions earned that way. If you refer a client to a plumber, he may give you a commission, or you can give him a commission if he refers a client to you.
The idea of “kick-backs” is, however, often frowned upon, especially when it is done in secret. This means that your company will probably lay claim to your commissions earned from partnerships first, before giving you a cut. Their stance on it is, however, an individual choice of each company. Therefore you should clear that out within company policy before you accept any commission partnerships.
Let’s Help You Ace Your Exams!
Pass your home inspector exams with The National Home Inspector Examination “How to Pass on Your First Try,” the Home Inspector Exam Secrets Study Guide: Home Inspector Test Review for the Home Inspector Exam, and the Certified Home Inspector (C-4117): Passbooks Study Guide (Career Examination Series) which will help you study!
We also found a few courses for you to take, such as the Septic System Inspection Course For Home & Building Inspectors, the Wood Destroying Organism WDO Inspection Course For Home Inspectors, and if you live the ‘Big Apple,’ the New York Master Home Inspector Course NEW YORK SUPPLEMENT all available online in 2023.
Once you’ve passed your exams, I highly recommend A Practical Guide to Home Inspection, The Home Inspection Book: A Guide for Professionals, or The Complete Guide to Home Inspection, the Complete Book of Home Inspection, and lastly, the Dearborn Principles of Home Inspection: Systems and Standards, Comprehensive Home Inspection Book with Updated Material for some guidance starting out.
This can be a very lucrative career. And it will keep you challenged, as you will continuously learn more in the industry.
You will need to pay attention to detail, have strong moral ethics, and be extremely thorough. Lives will depend on you. If you have all these traits, you are well on your way to becoming a home inspector.
All the very best in your career as a Home Inspector!
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