Construction and Building Inspector

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Construction and Building Inspector


There is a lot that goes into building a house, or a bridge, or a mall. Architects, landscapers, technicians, interior designers, investors . . . All these people and more have put time, effort and money into each new building. But the construction and building inspector can put a stop to everything if during a routine inspection they find something wrong. One safety code violation, like the wrong type of nails or not enough exits, and the whole project can be halted until the problems are fixed.

Construction and building inspectors don't only inspect construction sites. They can do checks on newly renovated business, and make routine tours of existing factories, buildings and companies, checking to make sure they are still safe places for people.

They also inspect blueprints, and give advice to developers on how to be more safety conscious in their construction. They may also check for electrical safety, plumbing, and gas, depending on their training. Often, they look for fire safety devices, like smoke and heat detectors, fire extinguishers, and escape routes.

They are the people who make sure homes won't collapse in case of fires, protecting not only the building itself, but also the firefighters, and the people trapped inside. They are the people who make sure crawl spaces aren't so small that a child can get trapped inside.

Building inspectors don't just check on a construction site once. They revisit the site over and over again, after each stage of completion. Only after the construction is done, and the final safety check passed, will the building owners be given a certification, declaring it safe for everyone. And even then, the building may be visited by inspectors for years and years to come.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a construction and building inspector? You need to have good communication skills, both written and in person. You need patience, tact and sensitivity towards others. You should have a good memory, and be able to identify when laws and regulations are not being met. You should enjoy having a structured work environment, and have management and leadership skills. You also need to be physically fit, as this job involves climbing ladders, fitting into small spaces, and being able to move about potentially dangerous environments without losing your cool.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Tour buildings and construction sites
  • Advise on, interpret and enforce safety regulations regarding construction sites
  • Ensure the correct building materials are being used
  • Consult with other safety and fire code inspectors
  • Look over building plans to ensure they conform to building regulations
  • Inspect older or questionable buildings
  • Keep complete records about inspections
  • Give evidence in court cases
  • Audit buildings to make sure they are wheelchair accessible
  • A construction and building inspector can have very full days, especially during the summer when construction is most common. A day may include reviewing notes, touring a site, speaking with construction crews and architects, and informing the proper authorities when problems are not fixed. They will spend some time in the office as well, writing reports about inspections and follow up actions. They will spend time traveling, visiting many sites in one day.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Construction and building inspectors work for the municipal and state governments, agencies, and are on staff at large and small corporations. They may also work for engineering and architectural firms.
  • They find themselves in offices, writing reports about law and safety code violations. They spend a lot of time inspecting, too. This can take them to all sorts of construction sites, from bridges to high-rises to additions to mini-malls. They will also visit buildings which have undergone renovations. The sites may be dangerous, and so construction and building inspectors must wear hard hats and safety shoes while on site.

  Long Term Career Potential  
After getting more experience, inspectors may move on to supervisory or senior positions. They can leave the agency they work for, and move on to open their own consulting firm. They may choose to leave inspecting altogether and become firefighters, architects or construction workers. They may take their expertise and write books and articles about home safety.

  Educational Paths  
Construction and building inspectors need some training in construction technology, safety inspection, and blueprint reading, among other related courses. Courses such as these are available at most community colleges; consult with a the school's enrollment center to get more information. They might also choose to get a university degree in an appropriate field, like engineering, or health and safety. There are also a few apprenticeship programs available for eager students.

Construction and building inspectors must be certified before they can start work. Certification is available from various associations throughout the country.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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