Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.


Construction and building inspectors typically do the following:

  • Review building plans and approve those that meet requirements
  • Monitor construction sites periodically to ensure overall compliance
  • Use equipment and testing devices, such as moisture meters to check for plumbing leaks or flooding damage and electrical testers to ensure that electrical components are functional
  • Inspect plumbing, electrical, and other systems to ensure that they meet code
  • Use survey equipment to verify alignment, level, and elevation of structures and ensure building meets specifications
  • Issue violation notices and stop-work orders if building is not compliant
  • Keep daily logs, which may include digital images from inspections
  • Document findings in writing

Construction and building inspectors ensure safety compliance of buildings, dams, bridges, and other structures; highways and streets; and sewer and water systems. They also inspect electrical; heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR); and plumbing systems. Inspectors typically check a project several times: for an initial check in the early construction phase, for followup inspections as the project progresses, and for a comprehensive examination after its completion. At each inspection, they may provide written or oral feedback about their findings.

The following are examples of types of construction and building inspectors:

Building inspectors check the structural quality, architectural requirements, and general safety of buildings. Some building inspectors focus on fire prevention and safety. Fire inspectors and investigators ensure that buildings meet fire codes.

Coating inspectors examine the exterior paint and coating on bridges, pipelines, and large holding tanks. In their checks throughout the painting process, inspectors ensure that protective layers are correctly applied.

Electrical inspectors examine a building’s installed electrical systems to ensure compliance and proper functioning. These systems may include new and existing sound and security systems, lighting, photovoltaic systems, generating equipment, and wiring for HVACR systems and appliances.

Elevator inspectors examine lifting and conveying devices, such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, lifts and hoists, inclined railways, ski lifts, and amusement rides. They inspect both the mechanical and electrical control systems.

Home inspectors typically examine houses, condominiums, townhomes, and other dwellings to report on their structure and overall condition. Home sellers or home buyers, or both, may seek inspectors’ objective assessment of a dwelling before placing it on the market or submitting an offer.

In addition to checking structural quality, home inspectors examine home systems and features, including the roof, foundation, interior and exterior walls, and plumbing, electrical, and HVACR systems. They may identify violations of building codes but do not have the authority to enforce compliance.

Mechanical inspectors examine HVACR systems and equipment to ensure that they are installed and function properly. They also may inspect commercial kitchen equipment, gas-fired appliances, and boilers. Mechanical inspectors’ work differs from that of quality control inspectors, who inspect goods at manufacturing plants.

Plans examiners determine whether the plans for a building or other structure comply with adopted building codes, regulations, and ordinances.

Plumbing inspectors examine the installation of systems that ensure the safety of drinking water and industrial piping and the sanitary disposal of waste.

Public works inspectors ensure that the construction of federal, state, and local government water and sewer systems; roads and bridges; and dams conforms to specifications. They may specialize in projects such as highways, structural steel, or dredging operations required for bridges, dams, or harbors.

Special inspectors ensure that critical construction work, such as high-strength concrete, steel fabrication, and welding, is installed and tested according to design specifications. Special inspectors represent the owner’s interests, not those of the general public. Insurance companies and financial institutions also may use their services.

Work Environment

Construction and building inspectors held about 129,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of construction and building inspectors were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37%
Engineering services 17
Self-employed workers 7
Construction 6
State government, excluding education and hospitals         4

Although construction and building inspectors spend most of their time examining worksites, they also spend time in an office reviewing blueprints, writing reports, and scheduling inspections.

Some inspectors climb ladders or crawl in tight spaces as part of their work.

Inspectors typically work alone. However, inspectors may work as part of a team on large, complex projects, particularly if they specialize in one area of construction.

Work Schedules

Most inspectors work full time during regular business hours. However, some work additional hours during periods of heavy construction. Also, if an accident occurs at a construction site, inspectors must respond immediately and may work additional hours to complete their report. Some inspectors—especially those who are self-employed—work evenings and weekends. This is particularly true of home inspectors, who typically inspect homes during the day and write reports in the evening.

Education and Training

Construction and building inspectors usually need a high school diploma and work experience in a construction trade to enter the occupation. They typically learn on the job to attain competency. Many states and localities require some type of license or certification.


Most employers require inspectors to have at least a high school diploma, even for workers who have considerable experience.

Some employers may seek candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or architecture or who have another postsecondary credential. Many community colleges offer a certificate or an associate’s degree program in building inspection technology and have courses in building inspection, home inspection, construction technology, and drafting. Courses in blueprint reading, vocational subjects, algebra, geometry, and writing are also useful. Courses in business management are helpful for those who plan to run their own inspection business.

Some jurisdictions require that construction and building inspectors take continuing education courses to maintain their credentials.


Training requirements vary by state, locality, and type of inspector. In general, construction and building inspectors receive much of their training on the job. Construction and building inspectors learn building codes and standards as a prerequisite to obtaining their license and through continuing education. Working with an experienced inspector, they learn about inspection techniques; codes, ordinances, and regulations; contract specifications; and recordkeeping and reporting duties. Training also may include supervised onsite inspections.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Employers may prefer to hire applicants who have both training and experience in a construction trade. For example, many inspectors have experience working as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Many home inspectors get experience in multiple specialties and enter the occupation with a combination of certifications and experience.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states and localities require construction and building inspectors to have a license or certification. Some states have individual licensing programs for construction and building inspectors. Others may require certification by associations such as the International Code Council, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Similarly, most states require home inspectors to follow defined trade practices or to get a state-issued license or certification.

Home inspector license or certification requirements vary by state but may require that inspectors have experience with inspections, maintain liability insurance, and pass an exam.

Many states use the National Home Inspector Examination as part of the licensing process. Most inspectors must renew their license periodically and take continuing education courses.

Inspectors must have a valid driver’s license to travel to inspection sites.


Construction and building inspectors may advance to become a plans examiner or building official. Advancement opportunities may require additional education, along with experience as a construction or building inspector. 

Personality and Interests

Construction and building inspectors typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a construction and building inspector, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Construction and building inspectors should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills. Home inspectors must have good communication skills in order to explain any problems they find and to help people understand what is needed to fix the problems.

Craft experience. Although not required, having experience in a related construction occupation provides inspectors with the necessary background that may help them to become certified to work in the field.

Detail oriented. Inspectors must thoroughly examine many different construction activities, often at the same time. Therefore, inspectors must pay close attention to detail so as to not overlook any items that need to be checked.

Mechanical knowledge. Inspectors use a variety of testing equipment as they check complex systems. In addition to using such equipment, they must also have detailed knowledge of how the systems operate.

Physical stamina. Inspectors are constantly on their feet and often must crawl through attics and other tight spaces. As a result, they should be somewhat physically fit.


The median annual wage for construction and building inspectors was $61,640 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,520.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for construction and building inspectors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Engineering services $62,580
Construction 61,360
Local government, excluding education and hospitals        61,190
State government, excluding education and hospitals 61,170

Most inspectors work full time during regular business hours. However, some work additional hours during periods of heavy construction. Also, if an accident occurs at a construction site, inspectors must respond immediately and may work additional hours to complete their report. Some inspectors—especially those who are self-employed—work evenings and weekends. This is particularly true of home inspectors, who typically inspect homes during the day and write reports in the evening.

Job Outlook

Employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to decline 4 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 14,800 openings for construction and building inspectors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


The increasing use of remote inspections will reduce the need for inspectors in state and local government. However, continued public interest in safety and the desire to improve the quality of construction are among the factors expected to create demand for inspectors.

For More Information

For more information about building codes, certification, and a career as a construction or building inspector, visit

International Code Council

National Fire Protection Association

For more information about coating inspector certification, visit

The Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP)

For more information about construction inspectors, visit

Association of Construction Inspectors

For more information about electrical inspectors, visit

International Association of Electrical Inspectors

For more information about elevator inspectors, visit

National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities International

For more information about education and training for mechanical and plumbing inspectors, visit

International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials

For information about becoming a home inspector, visit

American Society of Home Inspectors

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)




Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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