Building inspector education requirements

While a career as a building inspector does not require an undergraduate degree, most inspectors have a background in construction. However, if you are someone who would like to jump start their career and bypass a few years of working on a construction site, you may be required to take some courses at a local college in order to fulfill your licensing requirements.
These programs tend to be a two-year diploma program at your local community college. Students who are interested in pursuing a career in this field should be expected to take the following courses1:
• Construction Plan: Students will learn how to read and extract the necessary information from engineering and architectural drawings to understand the construction fundamentals of the building in order to conduct the inspections.
• Construction Practices: These courses are designed to provide students with hands-on knowledge of construction framing, a method commonly used in commercial buildings. Through this experience, students will have a better idea of how the interior walls and exterior foundations are built in order to provide an accurate assessment of their conditions.
• Building Inspection: Students will learn how to apply the skills they learned in class to the conditions of the buildings they inspect against the building code. They will also learn about zoning regulations for construction, design and architecture. They will be taught standard inspection techniques for interior and exterior fixtures in order to determine the condition of the building.
• Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical: These courses cover the practical application of the building code to the property’s electrical, plumbing and mechanical works. Students will learn how to spot areas that are not compliant with code standards.
• Building Codes and Zoning: Students will learn the building codes and zoning and how zoning affects the building code requirements in each area. They will also learn how to interpret the building plans against the code to ensure there are no potential risks against fire, and other safety issues.
• Construction Management: This may not be a course applicable to all building inspectors. However, for those who are looking to further their career into construction management, it would be useful to learn about the fundamentals of project management.
• Construction Project Management and Scheduling: Again, this is a course for those who are interested in pursuing a specialization in project management. Students will learn about project scope, resources management, timelines and budget which can have a great impact on the delivery of the final construction project.
• Materials of Construction: Students will learn about the use of the different types of building materials as well as the constraint of their application in commercial building projects. This will help them understand why the code was written to ensure that the appropriate materials are used and installed to avoid potential hazardous risks related to structural safety.
• Estimating: Again, this is a course more applicable for inspectors who wish to pursue a career in project management. It provides students with the knowledge of material cost and labour and how that affects the overall cost estimate of the project.
The skills learned from a building inspector’s job can be transferred to a number of different jobs including construction and construction project management. To learn more about the career path for a building inspector, please contact your high school counselor.
1. Associate Degree in Inspection. San Diego Mesa College.

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