Lorelei Yang
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Wonky consultant with a passion for words

If you're passionate about real estate but don't want to be a realtor, becoming a home inspector might be a good career choice for you. Being a home inspector is a rewarding career that allows you to have a high degree of autonomy and responsibility. Because there's always a market for homes and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) estimates that about 77% of homes sold in the U.S. and Canada are inspected before purchase, home inspectors also enjoy the benefit of job security. Should this career appeal to you, there are a few important requirements that must be met.

What does a home inspector do?

Home inspectors help potential homebuyers check for potential problems. They inspect a house for structural integrity and also check key systems (such as the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems). Additionally, if there are appliances (such as a stove or dishwasher) that will be left in the house, a home inspector may also check to ensure that those are in working order.

Ultimately, a home inspector's goal is to verify a home's soundness for sale and identify any potential problems that might disqualify it. If a home needs repairs before it can be sold, a home inspector makes recommendations to achieve this end goal.

Generally, home inspectors are paid by the prospective homebuyers. However, in some cases, They'll be paid by the house seller as a condition of the prospective buyer's offer.

How to become a home inspector in 5 Steps.

In comparison to many other careers, becoming a home inspector is relatively easy. However, requirements vary on a state-by-state basis, so the steps outlined below may not precisely match with the ones in your state.

1. Research the requirements for becoming a home inspector in your state.

As mentioned above, the requirements for becoming a home inspector vary from state to state. For example, Delaware has four separate requirements (completion of 140 hours of training, registration as a home inspector trainee, completion of 75 supervised home inspections and passing the National Home Inspector Exam) whereas Florida has three quite different requirements (completion of 120 hours of state-approved training, passage of a state exam and submission of an application to the state). 

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors website has state-by-state information that you can use to find out your state's requirements for aspiring home inspectors. You can also contact the relevant state regulatory agency where you live to find out more specific information for your home state.

2. Complete your state's training and education requirements.

Depending on where you live, there may be specific training and education requirements that you'll need to fulfill before you seeking licensure as a home inspector. If this is the case where you live, you'll need to complete these requirements (generally speaking, they take the form of required coursework and supervised training hours) before seeking licensure.

3. Take — and pass — a licensure exam.

In most states, home inspectors are required to hold licenses to practice. To this end, some states have their own state-level licensure exams, while others require home inspector hopefuls to pass the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE). In order to be sure that you're meeting your state's requirements, check the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors website and verify the requirements with the appropriate state regulatory agency where you plan to work.

4. Purchase insurance if needed.

In some states, home inspectors have to meet certain requirements for adequate insurance coverage. For example, in Alabama, home inspectors need four types of insurance coverage:

  • $250,000 of insurance coverage for errors and omissions
  • $20,000 of liability insurance covering injury or property damage
  • $50,000 of insurance coverage for injury or damage to a single person
  • $100,000 of insurance coverage for injury and damage (including death) to two or more persons

If your state has similar requirements, you'll need to purchase insurance fulfilling its requirements in order to become a fully licensed home inspector.

5. Complete continuing education as needed.

To maintain your licensure as a home inspector, you may need to complete continuing education credits on a regular basis. If this is the case where you live, make sure that you understand these requirements and complete them in a timely manner. Failure to fulfill this requirement may result in the forfeiture of your license.

FAQs.

How much money can you make as a home inspector?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 2018 median pay of $59,700 per year for construction and building inspectors, including home inspectors. ATI Training, an online home inspection institute, adds that home inspectors' earnings may vary widely based on location, the number of inspections they complete and how much they make per inspection. In 2018, HomeAdvisor estimated that the cost for home inspections generally ranged from $277-$388.

How much does it cost to become a home inspector?

The cost of becoming a home inspector can vary greatly depending on the route you take to achieve this goal. If you choose or are required to take a training course, you can expect to pay $1,000-$3,500 for the class. In addition to this, many states have application fees for home inspector licenses (generally $200-$400). Finally, there's the cost of insurance coverage if required where you work, which can be highly variable.

Can you be a home inspector with a felony?

In most states, yes. According to ATI Training, only a few states have laws prohibiting felons' certification as home inspectors, and only one state outlaws it outright. In most states, home inspector certifications are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis; this means that people with felony convictions on their records can still become home inspectors as long as they fulfill the other requirements.

How hard is the home inspector exam?

As with any other exam, how "hard" or "easy" you find the home inspector exam depends in large part on how prepared you are for it. With that said, if you're taking the NHIE, you'll be tested on inspection methods, reporting, building systems and professional practice standards. The exam uses a scored scaling system (akin to the one used by the SAT in the U.S.), with scores ranging from 200 to 800. A scaled score of 500 is a passing score.

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Lorelei Yang is a New York-based consultant and freelance writer/researcher. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.