How to Become a Home Inspector in 7 Easy Steps

Construction:,Home,Inspector,Reviews,Documents.If you are interested in a career in real estate, there are many paths you can take. Agent is likely to be the most obvious real estate-related profession. But if you’d rather not have the stress of a commission hanging over your head, you may prefer a career as a home inspector.

Home inspectors are responsible for inspecting a newly purchased home to look for signs of damage that may affect the property’s value. They earn a set income as opposed to having to rely on sales. The position is a good side hustle for agents who may be going through a slow period, or it can be a main form of income.

This article will review what a home inspector does and how you can earn your home inspector license or certification.

What Does a Home Inspector Do?

Real,Estate,Home,Inspection,Report,Of,Resale,Residential,Property,ConditionBefore you buy a home, you may do a visual inspection of its structure and systems. But a complete inspection will be necessary before the final purchase takes place. An inspector will be brought in for this part of the sale process.

The inspector will examine the building from top to bottom. They will report on the condition of the structure, roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems, windows, doors, walls, and insulation. Only items that are visible and accessible by normal means will be inspected.

Inspections typically take place after an offer is made. If any damage is found that was not originally reported by the owner, it may affect the purchase price or the status of the deal.

The owner and buyer may negotiate to come up with a price that covers the damage. If an agreement can’t be reached, the buyer may back away from the deal with no penalties.

How Do I Get My Home Inspector Certification? 7 Easy Steps

Worker,,Inspector,Is,Checking,With,Checklist,And,Pointing,New,BuildingBecoming a home inspector is not difficult and it’s a career that’s available to just about anyone. Here’s what you need to do to get started.

Step 1: Confirm the Licensing Requirements in Your State

Licensing requirements for becoming an inspector vary from state to state. You will need to start by taking a course that can range from 60 to 140 hours. Some states will also require you to have a year of on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced inspector before you become licensed.

Note that not every state will require you to get a license to become a home inspector. However, all will require you to take the necessary courses.

Step 2: Find Courses and Training That are Suited to Your Needs

Architect,Checking,Insulation,During,House,ConstructionNext you will have to find a school that offers training. Most schools that do agent licensing also offer courses for home inspectors.

When finding the school that’s right for you, there are several things you will need to consider. These include:

  • Reputation: The school should have a good reputation in the industry. You can typically find online reviews for various real estate schools that will provide insight on past experiences students have had when attending the school.
  • Types of Courses Offered: Schools will typically offer online, live virtual, or in-person training. Some may offer a combination of all three. Choose a school that offers an option that you feel will be best suited to your learning abilities.
  • Cost: Home inspection courses typically cost around $695. Of course, you will find ones that are more or less expensive, but remember, cheaper isn’t always better. Find out what’s included with the course before signing up for the one that offers the lowest prices.

In addition to taking a home inspection course, you may also want to do some of your own research to find out about home construction and common issues to look out for.

Step 3: Pass the Exam

Construction,Concept,,,Foreman,Officer,Inspector,Defect,About,Engineer&architect,WorkNot all states require home inspectors to take a test before they are licensed or certified, but many will.

Most states use the Home Inspection Licensing Exam which is a four-hour exam that includes 200 multiple choice questions. The exam is scored between 200 and 800 with 500 being a passing score. There is a fee to take the test which is generally between $200 and $300.

Tests are provided through platforms like PSI/AMP and Pearson VUE. You will need to schedule your test on one of their portals. Then go to a testing site and take the test on their computers on the selected date.

Keep in mind that the home inspection exam has a pass rate of only 55%. Therefore, you may consider doing extra exam preparation. The CompuCram course is recommended and costs around $99.

Step 4: Choose Your Home Inspection Career Path

Construction,Worker,And,Contractor.,Client,Shaking,Hands,With,Team,BuilderThere are several paths you can take once you embark on your home inspection career. You can work for an established firm, start your own business, or buy a home inspection franchise. Here’s a bit about what’s involved with each.

  • Work for and Established Company: Working for an established company is beneficial as you can start working immediately with minimal starting costs. On the downside, the company will keep 40 – 60% of your collected payments. They may also require you to purchase insurance and sign a non-competition agreement.
  • Start Your Own Business: Starting your own home inspection service will allow you to control all aspects of your business and keep all the money you earn. A successful inspector can make $50,000 to $80,000 a year doing 8-10 inspections a week. However, you will incur costs starting your business from scratch and income is not guaranteed.
  • Buy a Home Inspection Franchise: Another option is to buy a home inspection franchise. This will get you on the ground floor with a recognizable brand that has an established process. You can also enjoy unlimited earning potential. However, the franchise will be expensive, and it will take hard work to get it off the ground. And like starting your own business, income is not guaranteed.

Step 5: Acquire Errors & Omissions & General Liability Insurance

If you start your own business or work for an employer that does not provide you with Errors & Omissions and general liability insurance, you will need to get your own. E&O protects you and your company if a client or homeowner finds you failed to include something in your report and takes legal action against you. General liability protects you from claims of missing or damaged property.

There are a variety of companies that provide insurance for real estate professionals. Rates vary according to your location and the carrier you are working with.

Step 6: Get Your Home Inspection Business off the Ground

Close,Up,Hands,Of,Inspector,Waer,Safety,Vest,And,CheckingIf you choose to go the DIY route it may be difficult to start building a clientele. The easiest way to get your business off the ground involves forming relationships with real estate and mortgage lending agents. They are typically the ones who recommend inspectors to be brought in for their transactions.

However, many agents already have established relationships with inspectors making it difficult to get your foot in the door.

Another suggestion is to showcase your unique skills. For example, if you have expertise with a certain neighborhood or certain types of homes, you can advertise your skills in a marketing campaign to set yourself apart. You should also attend networking events to meet potential clients.

Joining industry and networking associations can also help to bring in business. For example, the American Society of Home Inspectors provides members with networking opportunities, continuing education courses and opportunities to earn additional certification that may impress clients.

It’s also important to keep in touch with agents after you have met with them or worked with them. This will help you earn repeat business, and it will get you more referrals.

Step 7: Continuing Education

Architect,And,Engineer,Inspect,Housing,Estate,Building,To,Success,ConstructionSome states require home inspectors to take continuing education courses to maintain their licenses and some do not. But either way, it’s a good idea to consider other courses you can take to move your career forward. Here are some you may want to add to your resume.

  • Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO): This course helps you identify wood damage in homes due to termites, beetles, and other wood decaying fungi.
  • Garage Inspector: Take this course to learn how to identify structural damage around the garage.
  • Deck Inspector: Become certified as a deck inspector to learn how to inspect decks for construction issues.
  • Radon Tester: This course will prepare you to perform radon detection in a home.
  • Mold Inspector: This certification will enable you to identify different types of molds and how they affect a home’s integrity.
  • Commercial Inspector: Take a course for commercial inspection to learn how to identify issues with wiring, construction, plumbing and framework in commercial and industrial spaces.

When it comes to additional certifications, the possibilities are almost endless. In fact, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers over 60 certification options.

How Much Money Do Inspectors Make?

Architect,And,Engineer,Inspect,Housing,Estate,Building,To,Success,ConstructionBecoming a home inspector is relatively easy but it takes somewhat of a money and time investment. So, do you earn a reasonable ROI? In this section, we will provide some insight on how much money home inspectors make.

Part-time vs. Fulltime

The amount of money you make will be directly correlated to how often you work. If you do home inspections as a side hustle, performing about 12 inspections per month you will earn just under $20,000 per year. If you average closer to 18 inspections per month, you may bring in as much as $96,528 per year.

If you are a top home inspector with years of experience and several contracts in place you can earn as much as $20,000- $50,000 a month.

Factors That Affect How Much Income You Make

The,Homeowner,Suggests,Going,To,The,Point,Where,They,NeedThere are several factors that affect how much income a home inspector can make. These include:

  • Your Type of Employment: You will make more money if you are self-employed as opposed to if you work for a firm.
  • Geographic Location: If you live in a major city, you will bring in more money than you would if you live in a rural area. This is due to overall lower salary averages as well as lower demand in the housing market.
  • Experience Level: Home inspectors with a lot of experience will be in demand and can charge more for inspections.
  • Licenses and Certifications: Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed. But if you are licensed, you will earn more money. Additionally, if you can perform different types of inspections, you will make more money from each client.
  • The Housing Market: If the housing market is booming, you will have more opportunities to earn money bringing in a higher income.

Benefits of Becoming a Home Inspector

Builder,Inspection,Consultancy.,Two,Engineer,Consulting,And,Checking,Material,AndHome inspectors can enjoy a variety of benefits, especially if they choose to open their own business. These include the following:

  • Be Your Own Boss: If you own your home inspection business, you can be your own boss. You can set your own hours, have complete control over your company, and bring in the bulk of the income.
  • Provide a Valuable Service: Buying a home is a major decision in a person’s life. You will help with this process by providing information on the condition of the home so buyers can be prepared for what’s ahead. This provides inspectors with satisfaction at the end of the day.
  • Learn a Valuable Trade: You may start on your path by working for someone else. But you’ll be learning a valuable trade that you can use to build your career. Eventually, you may be able to launch your own business.
  • Anyone Can Get Started: Becoming a home inspector does not require any college courses or prerequisites. Anyone can take a course and get started. However, those that embark on the journey should have some interest in the field.

The job of home inspector can be quite satisfying and lucrative. Now that you know what it takes to get a home inspector career off the ground, you can decide the best steps for moving forward. We wish you luck in your professional endeavors.

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 5/4/2023