Detailed Guide for Construction and Building Inspectors in California
May also be called: Architectural Inspectors; Building Code Administrators; Building Officials; Code Inspectors; Construction Inspectors
Specialties within this occupation include: Electrical Inspectors; Elevator Inspectors; Home Inspectors; Mechanical Inspectors; Plumbing Inspectors; Public Works Inspectors; Specification Inspectors
What Would I Do?
Construction and Building Inspectors examine buildings, highways and streets, sewer and water systems, dams, bridges, and other structures. Inspectors ensure that construction, alterations, or repairs comply with building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. Inspectors make an initial inspection during the first phase of construction and follow up with additional inspections throughout the construction project. However, no inspection is exactly the same. In areas where certain types of severe weather or natural disasters—such as earthquakes—are more common, Inspectors monitor compliance with additional safety regulations designed to protect structures and occupants during those events.
Many Inspectors investigate construction or changes being done to buildings without proper permits. Inspectors advise violators to obtain permits and submit to inspection. Inspectors may testify in court against code violators. They check the status of construction inspection activities and keep track of permits issued. If needed, Inspectors act on their findings. If a problem is found and not corrected within a specified period of time, government Inspectors have the authority to send out a “stop-work” order. Although Inspectors spend considerable time inspecting construction worksites, they also spend time in field offices reviewing blueprints, answering letters or telephone calls, writing reports, and scheduling inspections.
Electrical Inspectors examine the installation of electrical systems and equipment to ensure that they function properly and comply with electrical codes and standards.
Elevator Inspectors examine lifting and conveying devices, such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, lifts and hoists, inclined railways, ski lifts, and amusement rides.
Home Inspectors conduct inspections of newly built or previously owned homes, condominiums, townhomes, manufactured homes, apartments, and commercial buildings. Home inspection has become a standard practice in the home-purchasing process. Home Inspectors are most often hired by prospective home buyers to inspect and report on the condition of a home’s systems, components, and structure. Although Inspectors look for and report violations of building codes, they do not have the power to enforce compliance with the codes.
Mechanical Inspectors examine the installation of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems and equipment to ensure they are installed and function properly. This may include the inspection of commercial kitchen equipment, gas-fired appliances, and boilers.
Plumbing Inspectors examine plumbing systems; water supply and distribution systems; plumbing fixture traps; and drainage, waste, and vent lines.
Public Works Inspectors ensure that construction of public water and sewer systems, highways, streets, bridges, and dams conform to detailed contract specifications.
Specification Inspectors are often employed by building owners to ensure that work is done according to design specifications. Specification Inspectors represent the owner’s interests, not those of the general public. Insurance companies and financial institutions also may use their services.
Tools and Technology
Inspectors may use such tools as air velocity and temperature monitors, circuit testers, force or torque sensors, levels, liquid leak detectors, measuring wheels for distance, pressure or vacuum recorders, carbon monoxide detectors, asphalt thermometers, infrared thermometer lasers, and concrete strength measurers.
Their use of technology includes a wide range of computer software, such as compliance, database, enterprise resource planning (ERP), map creation, procurement, spreadsheet, and word processing. Many Inspectors also use laptops or other portable electronic devices to help make their written reports more accurate.
Construction and Building Inspectors are expected to play an important role in the green economy by inspecting new and retrofitted buildings as well as working with governmental and regulatory agencies.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Green economy activities and technologies would most likely have an effect on Construction and Building Inspectors. As the emerging green economy calls for more innovative and environmentally friendly practices, there may be changes to the work and worker requirements, such as new tasks, skills, and knowledge. Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Review plans, blueprints, site layouts, specifications, or construction methods to ensure compliance to legal requirements, environmental regulations, or safety regulations.||Critical Thinking|
|Inspect bridges, dams, highways, buildings, wiring, plumbing, electrical circuits, sewers, heating systems, or foundations for structural quality, general safety, environmental impact, or conformance to specifications and codes.||Engineering and Technology|
|Monitor installation of plumbing, wiring, equipment, and appliances to ensure that installation is performed properly and is in compliance with applicable regulations.||Building and Construction|
|Inspect or monitor construction sites to ensure adherence to safety standards, building codes, environmental regulations, or specifications.||Public Safety and Security|
|Measure dimensions and verify level, alignment, and elevation of structures and fixtures to ensure compliance to building plans and codes.||Mathematics|
|Sample and test air to identify gasses, such as bromine, ozone, or sulfur dioxide, or particulates, such as mold, dust, or allergens.||Quality Control Analysis|
|Conduct environmental hazard inspections to identify or quantify problems such as asbestos, poor air quality, water contamination, or other environmental hazards.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Maintain daily logs and supplement inspection records with photographs.||Writing|
|Issue violation notices and stop-work orders, conferring with owners, violators, and authorities to explain regulations and recommend rectifications.||Law and Government|
|Approve and sign plans that meet required specifications.||Judgment and Decision Making|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Engineering and Technology||Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.|
|Building and Construction||Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.|
|Public Safety and Security||Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.|
|Mathematics||Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.|
|Quality Control Analysis||Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Law and Government||Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.|
|Judgment and Decision Making||Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.|
Construction and Building Inspectors usually work alone. However, several may be assigned to large, complex projects, particularly because Inspectors tend to specialize in different areas of construction. Inspectors may have to climb ladders, many flights of stairs, or crawl around in tight spaces. Although their work generally is not considered hazardous, Inspectors, like other construction workers, must wear hardhats and adhere to other safety requirements while at construction sites, many of which are dirty and may be cluttered with tools, materials, or debris.
Inspectors normally work 40-hour weeks; however, they may work additional hours during periods of increased construction or if an accident occurs at a construction site. When construction work is decreased, Inspectors sometimes switch to inspecting renovation work or attend training. Inspectors who work for private firms or who are self-employed may have a varied work schedule, at times working evenings and weekends.
Construction and Building Inspectors who work for government agencies can join employee unions. Inspectors can also join different societies and associations, such as the International Code Council.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Construction and Building Inspector may appeal to those who prefer work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions; working outside; and following set procedures and routines while working with data and details.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2015 for Construction and Building Inspectors in California was $80,199 annually, or $38.56 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Benefits vary by employer, but generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Those who are self-employed are responsible for their own insurance and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
Concern for public safety and a desire to improve the quality of construction should continue to stimulate demand for Construction and Building Inspectors in government, as well as in firms specializing in architectural, engineering, and related services. Those who are self-employed are more likely to be affected by economic ups and downs in the real estate market. Inspectors with construction experience or those with a degree; certification; or knowledge of green and sustainable design, engineering, or architecture should have the best job prospects. Inspectors with knowledge of green standards and practices from the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) may also find more job opportunities.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Construction and Building Inspectors is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Construction and Building Inspectors are expected to increase by 14.1 percent, or 1,300 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Construction and Building Inspectors
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 120 new job openings per year is expected for Construction and Building Inspectors, plus an additional 220 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 340 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Construction and Building Inspectors
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Most employers require at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, even for workers with considerable experience. More often, employers look for persons who have a degree from a community college with coursework in engineering, architecture, building inspection, home inspection, construction technology, drafting, or mathematics. Many community colleges offer certificate or associate degree programs in building inspection technology. A growing number of Construction and Building Inspectors are also entering the occupation with a bachelor's degree, which often can substitute for experience.
Because Inspectors must possess the right mix of technical knowledge, experience, and education, most employers prefer applicants who have both formal training and experience. For example, many Inspectors previously worked as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Home Inspectors typically combine knowledge and experience in various construction trades.
Early Career Planning
High school preparation should include courses in basic mathematics and English.
Apprenticeship programs are available for Construction and Building Inspectors. Most programs require three to five years of on-the-job training plus related classroom instruction. Apprenticeship program applicants must be at least 18 years of age (or 17 years with written parental consent) and physically able to perform the work. Most programs require a high school diploma or the equivalent and the possession of a valid California driver license. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California’s Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards at www.dir.ca.gov/das and California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association at www.CalApprenticeship.org.
Employers may provide formal training to broaden Construction and Building Inspectors’ knowledge of construction materials, practices, and techniques. They can also take college or correspondence courses, or go to seminars and conferences sponsored by related organizations. Since Construction and Building Inspectors advise builders and the general public on building codes, construction practices, and technical developments, they may need to keep current on updates and changes to CALGreen.
Licensing and Certification
Licensing is generally not required for Construction and Building Inspectors. However, those who inspect acute care and skilled nursing facilities must be licensed by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). The license must be renewed every three years. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
Several professional associations offer certificates for Construction and Building Inspectors, such as the Green Building - Residential Examiner certificate offered by the International Code Council (ICC) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate credential offered by the Green Building Certification Institute. Certification can help demonstrate a level of competence that may enhance job prospects. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Building, Construction, Home, and Inspector.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Construction and Building Inspectors are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Local Government ||40.6%|
|Architectural and Engineering Services ||35.3%|
|Federal Government ||1.9%|
|State Government ||1.1%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Construction and Building Inspectors.
- Construction and Building Inspectors
- Government Offices
- Inspection Services
- Real Estate Inspection Services
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
As Inspectors gain knowledge and experience, they may become senior Inspectors or advance to become supervisors of other Inspectors. Those who possess various certifications or association memberships may see more opportunities for advancement to more responsible positions. Some may go into self-employment.
Below is a list of occupations related to Construction and Building Inspectors with links to more information.
|Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate||Profile|
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||Profile|
|Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.