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Construction and Building Inspectors

At a Glance

  • Check for structural quality and fire safety
  • Know detailed codes and regulations
  • Sometimes issue violations or stop-work orders
  • Work closely with owners and builders
  • Train through college course work or work experience
  • Additional training is on the job
  • May need a license

Career summary

Construction and building inspectors inspect new or remodeled structures. They make sure work meets code requirements.

Construction and building inspectors may also be called construction inspectors.

#review 3/20/19 lh

Before construction begins, plans examiners determine if plans comply with codes and regulations. They approve plans that meet codes and reject those that do not. They also issue building permits for approved plans. Construction cannot begin until permits have been issued.

Building inspectors visit the work site before workers pour the foundation. They inspect the soil condition to ensure it can support the foundation. They also check the position and depth of the footings. Later, they return to the site to check the completed foundation.

The number of other visits depends on the size and type of the structure. In general, inspectors visit to check systems, such as plumbing and electrical, before they are covered by additional construction. Inspectors make a final inspection when the project is completed.

Inspectors often do visual inspections to check structures. Their experience enables them to spot problems. They sometimes measure dimensions and compare them to those specified in building plans. Inspectors also check safety systems for correct installation. Inspectors witness tests of the smoke control and fire systems along with the fire marshal.

When inspectors find problems, they note the code violation. They notify builders and city building agencies. Inspectors confer with these groups to explain regulations. If builders do not agree, inspectors may need to explain their decision to the building codes division. Inspectors review builder complaints and gather evidence for their opinion.

Inspectors maintain daily logs and inspection records. They also prepare reports.

There are many types of inspectors:

Some inspectors conduct tests for environmental hazards like mold, asbestos, or poor air or water quality.

Related careers

This career is part of the Government and Public Administration cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to construction and building inspectors.

Common work activities

Construction and building inspectors perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, construction and building inspectors:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Construction and building inspectors frequently:

It is important for construction and building inspectors to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for construction and building inspectors to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Construction and building inspectors need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a construction and building inspector, you typically need to:

Education after high school

You can prepare to become a construction and building inspector by taking courses. Some community colleges have certificate or degree programs in building inspection technology. In these programs you study building inspection, construction technology, and drafting. You also take courses in algebra, geometry, and English.

Work experience

You need several years of work experience to get a job as an inspector. Many construction and building inspectors have worked as carpenters, electricians, or plumbers.

On-the-job training

Most construction and building inspectors learn additional skills on the job from an experienced worker. During training, you learn:

Training may last up to six months.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate. Construction and building inspectors use advanced math. Try to take math through Trigonometry.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire inspectors who have formal training and experience. Most require at least a high school diploma or equivalent. More often, employers look for applicants who have studied engineering, architecture, or construction technology. Employers may also prefer to hire inspectors who are certified.

Federal, state, and local governments may require inspectors to pass a civil service exam.


Participation in distributive education is helpful. College courses in building inspection, engineering principles, blueprint reading, and math are helpful. Computer skills are needed to keep permit records and track building activity. Since studying for the certification test can take a lot of time, some people recommend trying for certification as early as possible. Continuing education courses are important to keep current in this field.

Costs to workers

Washington State does not require building inspectors to become certified in their trade area (building, plumbing, mechanical, or electrical), although it is required by employers in some jurisdictions. Workers may have to be certified by the International Code Council or the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, both of which are listed in the Other Resources section of this description. Workers may need to pay registration and exam fees. Some employers require certification at the time of hire. Workers may also need to pay for continuing education to keep up with changes in the field and for certificate renewal.

Workers may also have to pay dues for membership in a union or professional association.

#Certification still offered by associations mentioned above 3/29/16 cj.


Many states require construction and building inspectors to be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Construction and building inspectors (SOC 47-4011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $25.20 $31.37 $36.58 $43.27 $48.86
Monthly $4,367 $5,436 $6,339 $7,499 $8,467
Yearly $52,410 $65,240 $76,100 $90,000 $101,640
    Bellingham Hourly $25.49 $31.39 $36.10 $39.38 $45.97
Monthly $4,417 $5,440 $6,256 $6,825 $7,967
Yearly $53,003 $65,289 $75,082 $81,913 $95,614
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $26.83 $31.71 $35.26 $37.71 $41.66
Monthly $4,650 $5,495 $6,111 $6,535 $7,220
Yearly $55,814 $65,957 $73,343 $78,444 $86,648
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $22.25 $25.59 $32.32 $38.93 $39.48
Monthly $3,856 $4,435 $5,601 $6,747 $6,842
Yearly $46,280 $53,222 $67,222 $80,968 $82,126
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $20.38 $25.52 $32.76 $38.18 $48.68
Monthly $3,532 $4,423 $5,677 $6,617 $8,436
Yearly $42,385 $53,064 $68,151 $79,417 $101,250
    Longview Hourly $17.90 $27.00 $33.73 $37.02 $38.85
Monthly $3,102 $4,679 $5,845 $6,416 $6,733
Yearly $37,233 $56,165 $70,156 $77,003 $80,826
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $18.03 $26.08 $33.83 $38.53 $63.81
Monthly $3,125 $4,520 $5,863 $6,677 $11,058
Yearly $37,502 $54,241 $70,371 $80,142 $132,730
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $31.70 $35.25 $38.24 $42.24 $48.30
Monthly $5,494 $6,109 $6,627 $7,320 $8,370
Yearly $65,930 $73,329 $79,537 $87,872 $100,459
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $29.05 $34.40 $39.60 $46.37 $50.82
Monthly $5,034 $5,962 $6,863 $8,036 $8,807
Yearly $60,420 $71,547 $82,358 $96,462 $105,693
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $21.81 $26.98 $31.99 $36.74 $39.58
Monthly $3,780 $4,676 $5,544 $6,367 $6,859
Yearly $45,368 $56,119 $66,524 $76,409 $82,308
    Vancouver Hourly $23.08 $29.90 $36.97 $43.88 $48.73
Monthly $4,000 $5,182 $6,407 $7,604 $8,445
Yearly $48,005 $62,193 $76,894 $91,260 $101,370
    Wenatchee Hourly $18.26 $26.33 $32.38 $37.01 $40.12
Monthly $3,164 $4,563 $5,611 $6,414 $6,953
Yearly $37,992 $54,756 $67,362 $76,996 $83,445
    Yakima Hourly $18.23 $22.76 $28.16 $36.93 $37.96
Monthly $3,159 $3,944 $4,880 $6,400 $6,578
Yearly $37,919 $47,342 $58,576 $76,819 $78,949
United States Hourly $17.04 $22.08 $28.70 $37.21 $46.79
Monthly $2,953 $3,826 $4,974 $6,448 $8,109
Yearly $35,440 $45,920 $59,700 $77,400 $97,310

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. In general, wages are higher in large urban areas.

Most full-time construction and building inspectors receive benefits. Typical benefits include vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

In Washington, the number of new positions for building inspectors is largely controlled by the level of new housing and commercial building activity. Construction activity is sensitive to ups and downs in the economy. 

Other factors which significantly influence outlook are changes in construction methods and materials to meet the demand for lower costs and more safe and energy-efficient buildings. Employers will increasingly look for workers with training or experience in energy conservation, indoor air quality and ventilation, water conservation, and barrier-free access codes.

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Construction and Building Inspectors (SOC 47-4011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 3,198 11.1% 16.1% 431
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 126 5.6% 13.4% 15
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 110 7.3% 8.6% 14
    Benton and Franklin Counties 108 4.6% 15.0% 13
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 109 7.3% 11.9% 14
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 254 9.4% 15.2% 33
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 234 12.0% 14.1% 32
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 211 14.2% 14.6% 30
    King County 1,406 14.1% 19.6% 199
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 92 8.7% 13.8% 12
    Pierce County 283 9.9% 15.2% 37
    Snohomish County 287 14.3% 12.4% 41
    Spokane County 116 10.3% 13.9% 15
United States 117,300 6.6% 5.2% 15,800

National employment

Almost half of all construction and building inspectors work for city or county building departments and other local government agencies.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will continue to grow as home construction and other types of construction pick up after the recession. Public safety and sustainable, energy-efficient construction also creates more demand for inspectors.

Job openings will grow as agencies begin to fill inspector positions lost due to budget cuts during the recession. The best prospects will be for inspectors who have training and certification in many areas of construction.

Other resources

International Code Council (external link)
500 New Jersey Avenue NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20001
National Association of Women in Construction (external link)
327 South Adams Street
Fort Worth, TX 76104
National Fire Protection Association (external link)
1 Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169
Washington Association of Building Officials (external link)
PO Box 7310
Olympia, WA 98507-7310


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster