With an average annual salary of over $70,000 and a flexible schedule, a home inspection can be a great career option for anyone who wants a fulfilling and well-paid career in real estate. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to start a lucrative career as a home inspector.
Step 1. Learn the Licensing Requirements in Your State
The first step to becoming a home inspector is to find out what licenses you need to start working in your state. The requirements can vary from no license at all in Idaho all the way to a high school degree, coursework, exam, licensure, and an apprenticeship in Texas. We’ve also included a table with the requirements for the largest states.
Step 2. Take an Honest Assessment of Your Construction Knowledge
As a certified home inspector, it will be your job to judge the safety and integrity of the structural, heating, plumbing, and electrical systems of people’s homes. In order to do this properly, you need to have a thorough understanding of how houses, from mansions to modern homes, are built and maintained.
Do you have a detailed understanding of how houses, both old and new, are built? Do you know how heating, plumbing, and electrical systems should be installed to ensure safety, value, and efficiency? If so, then great, you are one step closer to becoming a home inspector.
If you don’t have construction experience
While most home inspectors start out with some construction experience, it’s not necessary to get started. People from all walks of life have started new careers as home inspectors. As long as you’re willing to work hard, you can too.
If you don’t already have construction experience, the best way to learn is by taking home inspection pre-licensing courses or general construction courses.
Step 3. Take an Honest Assessment of Your People Skills
After technical knowledge, people skills are the second most important thing you need to become a successful home inspector. In order to keep the lights on, you will need to build and maintain relationships with realtors and homeowners. Realtors will often use the same home inspector for multiple deals. In order to keep them happy, you need great people skills.
Even without building relationships, a home inspection can be incredibly stressful for everyone involved. When a realtor or homeowner calls you for an inspection, that means they are very close to closing their deal. That deal might represent months of hard work and have tens of thousands of dollars in commissions hanging in the balance. They need your inspection to be accurate. Keeping a cool head and working well under pressure can be the difference between success and failure in home inspection.
Step 4. Find Courses and Training that Work for You
While there are many places that offer the standard courses required for getting your home inspection license, Atlanta Insurance School, a trusted name in professional education for more than 40 years, offers some of the best in the industry. When you’re ready to start researching coursework, AIS should be the first name on your list.
Step 5. Pass Your State’s Home Inspection Licensing Exam
*If your state does not require licensing, skip to
Even if you have extensive knowledge of construction and building systems, you still need to pass your state’s licensing exam.
There is ALWAYS more to learn. For example, you may be an expert on roofing, but need to brush up on electrical. You will also need to keep up with the latest advances in building materials and techniques. This is why many states require continuing education for you to keep your license after passing the exam. Chances are, even your home inspection course instructor has to take continuing education courses to keep his or her license.
Even if your state doesn’t have continuing education requirements, as a new home inspector, you will still need to compete with home inspectors who have decades of professional experience. They have seen it all, done it all, and know it all. In order to stay competitive, more education and training are always helpful.
Step 6. Join ASHI
While there are no laws requiring you to join ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors) to work as a home inspector, joining can only help your career. The organization offers top notch education, networking opportunities, and industry standard professional certifications.
While getting professionally certified by ASHI requires extensive training and experience, joining now will show your future employer or clients that you take your career seriously. If you’re working in a state with no licensing requirements, this is the best way you can show them you take your career seriously.
Step 7. Choose How You Want to Work
Once you pass the licensing exam or are otherwise qualified in your state, there are three ways to start working as a home inspector:
Work for an established inspection firm
Working for an established home inspection company is the easiest way to start working as a home inspector. Since the company will already have an established brand, marketing strategy, professional certification, and a steady stream of clients, you can start working immediately with very little upfront costs compared to starting from scratch on your own.
However, working for an established company can have its drawbacks:
You may make less money.
If you are working for them as an independent contractor, the company will take anywhere from 40-60% of the inspection fee charged to the client as their cut. Even though you’re not paying many of the start-up costs associated with a new business, you will still need to pay for licensing, association dues, tools, and vehicle maintenance. You may even have to purchase your own insurance.
You may have to sign a non-compete.
Some companies will also ask you to sign a non-compete agreement. This means that you may be legally prohibited from working in any areas the company works in if you decide to leave (at least for a limited period of time). If a company you’re interviewing with asks you to sign a non-compete agreement, read it very carefully (or have your lawyer review it) before accepting the job.
Start Your Own Inspection Firm
By starting your own inspection company, you can control every aspect of your business. Your potential earnings are also only limited by how hard you’re willing to work. An experienced solo home inspector can make anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 per year doing 8-10 inspections per week. Once you start recruiting new inspectors to work for your firm, the sky’s the limit. However, there are drawbacks here as well:
Risks and Expenses
Like many jobs with unlimited earning potential, there are risks and expenses involved with starting your own inspection business. Advertising, tools, liability and errors and omission insurance, association dues, office space, and vehicle care will all eat into your bottom line.
Getting Clients from Realtors
The easiest way to keep the lights on as a home inspector is to get referrals from realtors. The problem is that most experienced realtors are more than likely already working with experienced home inspectors. Convincing them to work with you instead can be extremely difficult. However, strong networking can get realtors to send business your way.
Buy a Franchise
Another way to start working as a home inspector is to purchase a franchise. When you buy a home inspection franchise, you buy a complete turnkey business that you can start making money with immediately. This can be better than joining an established firm as an employee because you would own your own business.
And with a franchise, you will start with the benefit of a recognized brand, marketing materials, and relationships with major realty companies, industry specific software, and often rights to sales territory.
Step 8. Never Stop Learning
Like any career worth having, a career in home inspection requires you to constantly learn new skills to stay competitive. Building technology can change very quickly, and there are dozens of additional professional certifications you can get to diversify your business and make more money.
The Bottom Line
With a salary average well above most real estate career options and a flexible schedule, a home inspection can be a great new career or second income stream. It takes hard work to become an inspector, but that hard work can pay off.