Home inspection is considered one of the top 50 jobs in the USA and growing steadily. The benefits and growth opportunities of the profession attract merits like you; more and more people want to become a home inspector.
Around 6 million homes are sold in the US every year. Most of these homes will require a home inspection. That’s a huge market for potential home inspectors.
A home inspector is trained to examine a home to determine its safety, condition, and quality. This examination (or inspection) is followed by a report presented to the client, clearly stating the condition of the building.
The courts or the government orders a lot of home inspections. But most of them are required by clients who want to buy or sell homes. The reports presented by the home inspector help the client decide whether to go ahead with the purchase and the highest price to accept.
The job of a home inspector is essential in the real estate industry. It is the glue of trust that binds home sellers with buyers. It makes it easier for the two parties to agree to terms. Without the home inspector, there will be a lot of latency in the market.
This article is about giving you a jump start. Everything you asked about becoming home inspector is covered. You’ll have a proper understanding of the following topics after reading the article:
- Home Inspection as a career
- Demand of home inspectors
- Personal qualities of a successful home inspector
- Required qualifications
- Expected timeand cost
- Notable training schools
- Precise stepsto become a home inspector
- Salary and Pay of home inspectors and a lot more.
Attached an info-graphic highlighting the most actionable beginner friendly steps that guide you to be a successful residential inspector. You’ll feel confident and heavily equipped in your journey towards home inspection career.
Use the table of content to navigate through the article, Bookmark the page, and come back again for further updates. Share with your friends and help them find answers too. Happy learning and welcome abroad.
Now you know how vital home inspectors are, how do you get a fair share of the billions of dollars that change hands in your state’s real estate market?
Home Inspection Certificate & License Requirements by State
Is Home Inspection a Good Career Choice?
Three broad issues affect our career choices: personal, opportunity, and financial. These will also determine how you measure your success in a career path. Suppose your idea of success is nice suits, flashy cars, and many idle hours. In that case, you may become disappointed as a home inspector.
Home inspectors have to put in a lot of hours a day (up to 12 hours daily) and 70 hours a week. It’s hard work. Your enjoyment of the job depends on how much you love buildings, talking to people, and helping make their lives easier.
Home inspector pay is good. You can earn $25K – $35K yearly working for a firm. Working for yourself, you can make up to $90K if you set things right. So, no, you’re unlikely to be out on the streets if you train as a home inspector.
It’s also one of the best career choices you can make if you want to make extra money on the side. You can make your own schedule and still afford that extra budget.
Annually, 6000 people write the National Home Inspection Exam (NHIE), a national examination for home inspectors. 35 states accept it in the United States as a competency test for the home inspection. The average pass rate is 51%. People who retake exams have a pass rate of 39%.
Considering that this is not the only path to becoming a home inspector, many people must be trying really hard to join the profession.
Pros of Becoming a Home Inspector
- It’s easy to train for
- It’s not physically exerting
- You can make good money
- It gives you the freedom to make your schedule
- Retirees can also get a good cut from the pie
Cons of Becoming a Home Inspector
- Your location may affect your income
- You may need a lot of experience to get a steady flow of jobs
- You may be vulnerable to litigations if you’re not the kind of person who pays attention to details
Steps To Become A Home Inspector
To become a home inspector, there are some steps you will have to take. Where do you begin?
Study The Requirements for Your State
In most states, you will need a license to practice. Some will require you to take some pre-licensing classes. Some states will require you to get certification from recognized state or federal professional bodies.
You must join an organization involved in building such as real estate agencies, construction companies, etc. You can also do an apprenticeship in plumbing, electrical wiring, and so on. These will give you a basic understanding of buildings and how to measure their quality.
Get An Education
It’s essential to have a high school diploma. The ideal post-secondary to study is Building Inspection Technology or other building courses. These programs can replace an apprenticeship or work experience in most states.
A post-secondary education gives you an advantage over other home inspectors who only have a high school diploma. It gives you the mental power to solve the intellectual problems that may come with some high profile jobs.
Skills you can acquire from higher education include blueprint reading, building codes, and soil structure. It also gives you a better chance to understand new technologies in the industry.
Most employers will prefer a home inspector with higher education over one with the same experience but no higher education.
Alternatively, you can enroll in home inspection training schools. During the training, you’ll be taught the technical and intellectual requirements for the home inspection. You’ll learn blueprint reading, structural codes, and technological tools to measure and assess buildings.
You can learn also learn special home inspection skills such as septic tank and swimming pool inspections. You will also be taught how to write your inspection reports. School, where you can receive training, includes Inspection Certification Associates (ICA), American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT), Kaplan, and Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII). Many states will require evidence of attending pre-licensing classes.
35 states in the United States accept the National Home Inspectors Exams (NHIE) as a requirement for issuing a license. Find out if your state recognizes it. Then take classes and write the exams. Take the lessons seriously. The exams can be quite tough. It costs $225.
Even if the state you live in doesn’t require a license, you should get one. A state license will give you a background of what you need to know as a home inspector. This includes specific rules, such as building codes. The preparations for the licensing exams is preparation for being an excellent home inspector.
Get A Job Or Be a Self-Employed Home Inspector
After you’ve gotten your license, it’s time to look for a proven organization. You can also set up your own business.
To succeed as a self-employed home inspector, the location of your business is crucial. For example, your income in California cannot be compared to what you can earn in Tennessee on average. Target your location according to your expected salary.
Form relationships with realtors. They are the field agents who can recommend you for jobs repeatedly. Do a great job, and you will always have as many jobs as you can do effectively.
This makes you a part of an organization that can give you contacts and a steadier flow of jobs. Joining a professional body is one of the best decisions you’ll make as a home inspector.
Some affiliations require renewals that keep you abreast of developments in the industry. Some also come with insurance against accidents or damages that may be incurred in the line of duty.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Home Inspector?
The minimum requirements to become a home inspector in the US are a high school diploma and a home inspector’s license. In practice, there’s no one-bullet-kill-all. The requirements will vary from state to state.
Writing a competency exam such as the National Home Inspectors Examination (NHIE) will make it easier for you to get a license in most US states. Let’s take a look at the qualifications you need to become a home inspector.
- High School Diploma
As mentioned earlier, you must have a high school diploma. Other requirements will be determined by the state you’re hoping to practice.
States like California, Hawaii, Georgia, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Montana will require no license. However, they have laws that regulate home inspection in the states.
Other states will require a state-regulated license. These licenses will require you to take pre-licensing classes of up to 140 hours. These classes teach you important stuff like how to read a blueprint or the state’s structural codes.
States that require licenses include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, etc. For some states, these licenses require renewal. States which their licenses require renewal include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Connecticut.
Some states will require evidence of work experience in the building industry to issue a license. This includes an apprenticeship in building-related fields. After getting your permit, you’ll need to start building your resume as a home inspector by working with a company or setting up your own business.
- More Education
In a market that can get competitive, it’s crucial to give yourself an advantage. Studying for a post-secondary qualification in building inspection technology or a related field will set you apart.
It’s essential to join a professional body of home inspectors. This group will give you the connections you need to be successful as a home inspector. They also engage you in continuing education. This is done to update your knowledge of developments in the industry.
These may include newly approved industry best practices and technological developments that will make you a better home inspector. Some states will require evidence of continuing education before issuing a license renewal.
What Personal Traits Would Make You A Great Home Inspector?
I do not know what made you decide to become a home inspector. You probably saw someone doing great in it and decided to join the moving train. Perhaps you had a bad experience with real estate agents and decided to make sure they didn’t do that to anyone else. I can relate.
But I guess that before deciding to quit your job, you must have asked yourself repeatedly, ‘can I do it?’. I will like to say a resounding ‘yes, you can’ but I’ll prefer to ask you some questions first. Ready?
Do You Pay Attention To Details?
A home inspection can be hard work. As a home inspector, I have to make sure everything about the home is thoroughly checked. I do not overlook anything. The ground floor being great doesn’t mean the whole building must be. Check everything. An omission can cost a lot of money directly through litigations. It can also deny you jobs in the future.
Do You Mind Going Into Strange Places For a Living?
I have visited more homes than anyone I know. Of course, this is different from the handyman or milkman visits. I enter every room, kitchen, and bathroom. There are times I have felt uncomfortable or feared for my safety. The key is not to let it affect your work.
Do You Like Buildings?
This may seem quite obvious. But to be a great home inspector, you mustn’t just like buildings because of the generous white paint. You must love them. You must know or seek to know everything about how buildings rise and fall. It would be nice to say you don’t need to know anything about architecture or building construction. But to be great at it, you should have a basic understanding of their primary concepts. This will surely set you apart from the rest.
Are You Bold?
The home inspection is not for the timid. You should be able to keep a straight face and tell your client what needs to be said. Avoiding the issue is one way to fail as a home inspector. A great home inspector cannot be intimidated by anyone.
How do you Rate your Communication Skills?
You should be able to give a clear report. The report you write should consider your target audience. While writing stories for big real estate agencies, I can write long reports which include a lot of jargon. I believe it’s more practical for a non-specialist to use the most straightforward language and summarize it as much as possible.
Are You A People Person?
No snubbing on the job. A home inspector needs a lot of connections to keep getting jobs regularly. You need to be in touch with as many real estate agencies as you can. These people can get you lots of jobs. Have a good relationship with your clients. This job is not just a business. It can get personal. People you’ve worked for could hire you again or recommend you to friends if you did a great job. If they liked you, they’d recommend you to everyone.
Keep a large circle of friends. The real estate agency that has given me 40% of the jobs I’ve done on home inspection got to know me from a friend I met on the job.
Are You Hardworking?
Home inspection job is not for sloths. You have to be on your feet a lot of times and ready to move. It requires a lot of running around, bending, crouching, climbing, and every other position you feel uncomfortable in. You’ll have to put away that fancy dress after the face-to-face meeting. It’s a jeans time.
Are You Reliable?
You have to be always delivered on every job. Lateness to job sites can cost someone thousands of dollars. So, when you say you’ll have a report ready by Monday, better ignore that pull to go to your favorite bar.
Do You Have Integrity?
The home inspection is all about trust. If you give people any reason not to trust your judgment, it’s time to look for another profession. There is no justification for cutting corners. It will cost you in the long run.
Where Do You Live?
No doubt, you want to make money as a home inspector. Where you choose to live or practice will affect your income. Places with booming real estate markets will offer you the best growth opportunities.
People Also Asks
Are Home Inspectors in High Demand?
The simple answer is that it depends on location. The demand in a suburban area close to an industrial or commercial city would be higher than in a farming village. These may be too contrasting, but you get the point.
Many cities are now expecting home sellers to pay for a certified home inspection before carrying out a sale. The growth in the real estate business is expected to be 10% through 2026.
In 2018, 5.96 million homes were sold in the US, while 6 million homes changed hands in 2019. In 2017, it was 6.12 million homes that changed hands. Up to 80% of home sales in the US go through some form of the home inspection (amounting to 4.8 million home inspection jobs in the US).
And with the national average income of a home inspector ($58K ) being greater than the national average ($49K ), there surely is a high enough demand even for newcomers to the home inspection industry.
How Hard is Becoming a Home Inspector?
Not as hard as becoming a doctor or an engineer. Compared to its expected income and physical exertion (or absence of), it is a feasible profession to qualify for.
It does not need an expensive college degree or a brain of Da Vinci. Anyone can be a home inspector. It is neither an excessively physically nor mentally demanding career. Whatever your age or gender, you can become a successful home inspector.
The minimum requirement is usually a high school diploma. Additional requirements can vary from state to state. These requirements are unlikely to be expensive or take too much time to acquire.
However, to be successful, you’ll have to spend several months or years learning the ropes. This can be through an apprenticeship or working in a firm. You’ll also have to work hard to build your reputation and client base.
How long does it take to Become a Home Inspector?
After your high school diploma, the time it will take you to get your home inspector license depends on where you are, and your other circumstances.
If you’re living in California or Hawaii, the number of weeks required to get a permit is obviously zero. States like Oregon and North Dakota do not require pre-licensing classes. So, you can walk in anytime and write your license exams.
Many of the states which require licenses also require pre-licensing courses. The duration of these classes can range from 20 hours to 140 hours. Some of the states may require home inspection field experience of up to 50 hours.
Your ability to complete the courses depends on your schedule and skills. You can complete them in 2 weeks or 2 months. For South Dakota, South Carolina and Rhode Island, you need to have been an associate home inspector or a registered home inspector for at least one year to get a license.
How much does it cost to Become a Home Inspector?
Any profession worth doing will cost you some time and investment to get qualified. The home inspection is no different. The classes you’ll need to take for your license will cost you $550 – $1000. The registration fees cost from $50 to $400, depending on the state.
Besides, the states will require evidence of insurance cover. This is in case of errors, omissions, or accidents, which turn out to be expensive. The value of the insurance coverage ranges from $100K – $500K, depending on the state.
Your employer may choose to purchase an insurance cover for your license. You only need to be careful to make sure you won’t need it. If you want to be self-employed, then insurance cover is something you must plan for. Even if you don’t work in a state that requires it, it’s a good idea to be protected. Better safe than sorry.
What are the best schools for Becoming a Home Inspector?
On your way to becoming a home inspector. You will require some training. Of course, you can attend college and get a degree in Building Home Inspection. A cheaper and faster alternative is to participate in a training institute that is certified by your state.
There are many such schools which you can attend in the United States. It is up to you to decide which of them will give you the best service during and after your training.
It will be a total waste of money and time to enroll in a program that’s not accredited by your state. The school should also be available to you in any part of the United States. You’re probably working and want a school that will allow you to complete your credit hours at your own pace. You will also not want to pay from your nose.
One of the best home inspector school in the US is the American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT). They are accredited in all the states of the US, have a robust program in all areas of home inspection. The program is affordable and has an excellent customer care service.
Another excellent training school is the Inspection Certificate Associates (ICA). They have unique in-person and online programs.
Do Home Inspectors make Good Money?
Like every other occupation, the money you’ll make as a home inspector depends on your efforts and opportunities. The money you’ll make also depend on where you’re practicing, your skills and your relationship with people who can get you jobs.
On average, a home inspector makes good money. Home inspection is ranked among the top 50 jobs in the US. The average income of a home inspector is greater than the national average by around $10K. Working part-time, you can make $15K – $30K.
Working for a firm will earn you a little more than that on average. If you have your own firm, you can make $90K. More prominent companies can make up to $5 million.
In summary, factors that affect your income as a home inspector include:
Find places that have active real estate activities. You can decide whether to go for quantity or quality. You can also have both.
Your income will depend on whether you work for yourself or decide to play it safe by working for a firm. If you work for yourself, you’re sure of a monthly salary. Working for yourself can put you on track to be among the 10% who make nearly $100K annually.
The more experience you have as a home inspector, the more jobs you get and the higher your income.
Info-Graphic On How To Become A Certified Home Inspector
The good thing about home inspection is that it doesn’t require a strong knowledge of architecture or building engineering. All you need is your high school diploma and some training for your license to become a home inspector. And then you’re qualified to earn a generous share of the billion-dollar market of home inspection.