Home Inspector Specialties | The A-Z of Home Inspection Career Paths
When you complete your home inspection training, you’ll be qualified and prepared to inspect the nine major areas of a home. These include the:
- Attic and Insulation
- HVAC Systems
- Plumbing Systems
- Electrical Systems
- Structural Elements
- Windows and Doors
- Exterior Elements
Some homes you inspect may only need a general home inspection. Other homes, however, may need one or more specialty inspections. During these inspections, an inspector who is certified to inspect a specific system or component conducts a more thorough evaluation of function and safety.
In these cases, it pays to get certified in one or more home inspection specialties. This means you can add more services to your business, increase your revenue through different avenues, and potentially charge more per inspection. Read on to explore the many types of home inspector specialties, from A to Z.
(Give or take some letters!)
Specialty Home Inspection Career Paths
Asbestos inspections, sometimes called asbestos surveys, involve a visual inspection of materials suspected to contain toxic asbestos. An asbestos inspector will often perform sampling of these materials and a lab analysis. Some asbestos inspectors also provide recommendations for removal by a qualified asbestos removal contractor. These inspections are generally priced between $600 (for residential inspections) to $1,200 for more comprehensive commercial building inspections.
How to Become an Asbestos Inspector
To become a certified asbestos inspector, you’ll need to take a training course approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This training is required under the EPA’s Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 (AHERA). Find out more about EPA-approved asbestos inspection training courses in your state at the EPA site.
Who Hires Asbestos Inspectors?
Certified asbestos inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, contractors, private companies, municipalities, and state agencies.
The Costs of Becoming an Asbestos Inspector
Generally, the price of an EPA-approved asbestos training course in your state runs between $400 and $600. After getting your certification, you’ll also need to invest in personal protective equipment to wear during inspections and asbestos sampling tools. You’ll also need to plan for the cost of lab analysis with each inspection.
Chimney inspections are a critical type of home inspection every homeowner needs if they have a chimney in their home. While home inspectors inspect chimneys and fireplaces to a certain degree, a certified chimney inspector performs a more detailed evaluation.
Chimney inspectors look for flue blockages, leaks, cracks, creosote buildup, and other chimney damage that could cause a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. These inspections run about $450 on average for a homeowner.
How to Become a Chimney Inspector
To become a certified chimney inspector, you can get licensed through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). CSIA offers two options for training: a six-day, in-person training course through its National Chimney Sweep Training School (NCSTS) and an online, self-paced program. Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll need to pass the CSIA exam to earn your certification.
Who Hires Chimney Inspectors?
Chimney inspectors are primarily hired by homeowners, homebuyers, and sellers for one-time and seasonal inspections. Any home or commercial building that has a fireplace and chimney needs the services of a certified chimney inspector.
The Costs of Becoming a Chimney Inspector
The cost of CSIA training, depending on how you take the course, runs around $500 on average. You’ll also need to pay a fee to take your certification exam. This is generally around $200.
Once you’ve completed your certification, you can begin work as a certified chimney inspector. You’ll need to get recertified every three years by taking a review class and exam or completing a series of Continuing Education (CE) credits.
Electrical inspectors inspect electrical wiring, lighting, and motorized components of all the different systems inside of a home or building. They test circuits, check electrical current, look for outdated or improperly installed wiring, and identify electrical safety hazards that could lead to fires. Electrical inspections for homes are generally priced between $100 and $400.
How to Become an Electrical Inspector
You’ll want to check if your state has specific training and licensing requirements to legally work as an electrical inspector. In general, electrical inspectors – like electricians – need to have deep knowledge of how electrical current works, wiring configurations, and National Electrical Code.
AHIT offers a variety of professional development courses in electrical topics, with some approved for CE in your state. The International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) offers an in-depth certification program for electrical inspection.
Who Hires Electrical Inspectors?
Homeowners, homebuyers, sellers, commercial building owners, municipalities, and government agencies often hire electrical inspectors.
The Costs of Becoming an Electrical Inspector
If you plan to get certified as an electrical inspector through IAEI, the cost of training, materials, and taking your exam varies. Visit IAEI for more info. Electrical inspection CE and professional development courses generally run between $50 to $150.
Foundation and Structural Inspections
A home foundation inspector, also called a structural inspector, is trained to inspect building foundations, identify structure and safety problems, and recommend when repairs are needed. These inspectors also provide foundation inspection certificates, which are sometimes required for appraisals under Federal Housing Administration-backed (FHA) home loans.
Foundation inspectors are well-versed in the mechanics of building foundations, the physics involved in foundation settling, common issues, and how to spot non-emergency and emergency foundation problems. Foundation inspectors generally charge between $400 and $800 for a home foundation inspection and upward to a few thousand dollars for commercial building foundation inspections.
How to Become a Foundation Inspector
There currently isn’t a formal standard for foundation inspection education. However, there are many professional development courses on elements of foundation inspection available – including through AHIT.
You can also get certified through certain industry organizations, such as the National Foundation Repair Association (NFRA). The NFRA requires a combination of experience hours in the field, proof of CE hours at NFRA-sponsored programs, and an annual fee.
Who Hires Foundation Inspectors?
Foundation inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, and engineering firms.
The Costs of Becoming a Foundation Inspector
The cost of foundation inspection CE courses varies, but generally runs between $50 to $150 per course. Certification cost runs higher and requires a certain number of hours in the field along with CE courses and a certification fee. Visit NFRA for more info on certification.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Inspection
HVAC inspectors specialize in evaluating the components and operation of air conditioners, furnaces, ductwork, and home ventilation systems. While general home inspectors inspect HVAC systems as part of a complete home inspection, they may recommend the services of a skilled HVAC inspector if they detect a serious problem during inspection.
HVAC inspectors generally charge between $200 and $500 per inspection for a home and more for commercial buildings.
How to Become an HVAC Inspector
It’s important to have expert knowledge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and their components to work as a qualified HVAC inspector. You have a few choices for education.
There are many professional development and CE courses available to learn the HVAC specialty. Additionally, the National HVAC Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Association (NADCA) offers a Certified Ventilation Inspector (CVI) program. Many community colleges and trade schools also offer HVAC inspection training through certificate programs and associate’s degree programs.
Who Hires HVAC Inspectors?
HVAC inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, private companies, schools, contractors, and others.
The Costs of Becoming an HVAC Inspector
HVAC inspector CE and professional development courses run between $50 to $150 per course. NADCA CVI certification involves a self-study program and a fee of around $200 to take and pass an exam. Visit NADCA for more info. The costs of training at community colleges and trade schools can run into the low thousands.
Lead-Based Paint Inspection
Lead-based paint inspectors are still in high demand today, as many homes built before 1978 used lead paint inside or outside of the home. Lead exposure is toxic to both humans and animals – and it’s particularly dangerous for children.
Homebuyers and homeowners need the services of a skilled lead paint inspector if it’s suspected that lead paint was used in a home. These inspections are priced around $350 on average.
How to Become a Lead-Based Paint Inspector
The EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Abatement and Evaluation Program lays the foundation for country-wide lead abatement, lead risk assessment, and lead paint inspector education. If you plan to become a lead paint inspector, you are required to get certified through an EPA-authorized training program that meets both national and state requirements. You can find an approved training course in your state at the EPA’s site.
Who Hires Lead-Based Paint Inspectors?
Homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial property owners, municipalities, state agencies, schools, and others all hire lead-based paint inspectors.
The Costs of Becoming a Lead-Based Paint Inspector
The cost of lead inspector certification courses can run from around $500 upward to $1,000, depending on whether you choose in-person or online training. The cost of taking your exam is generally lower at under $100.
Once you begin working as a lead paint inspector, you’ll need to get recertified every 3 years by completing an EPA-authorized refresher course and paying a recertification fee of under $100 usually.
Landscape Inspection and Soil Analysis
A landscape inspector is a relatively new title in the inspection industry. Landscape inspectors closely examine the land parcel a home or building sits on and looks for issues related to the outdoor landscape. A landscape inspector will examine the land parcel, outdoor structures (decks, patios, play equipment), soil quality, drainage, irrigation systems, retaining walls, trees and root systems, plant life, and more.
Landscape inspectors usually offer soil testing and analysis as part of their services. Some are also experienced landscapers, and some may even be certified arborists. Landscape inspection is a higher-priced type of inspection for a homeowner in part because it requires specialized knowledge and may include the cost of soil testing.
How to Become a Landscape Inspector and/or Soil Inspector
There may be a state requirement for certification as a landscape inspector – similar to how certain states require certifications for landscapers.
Soil testing and analysis often requires completion of a certificate program through a state association or earning an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in soil science. It’s best to start by checking your state’s requirements when planning your education.
Professional development classes and CE courses are also offered for home inspectors to help increase knowledge in landscaping and soil analysis.
Who Hires Landscape Inspectors and/or Soil Inspectors
Landscape inspectors and soil testers are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, private land owners, municipalities, government agencies, and private companies. More education is likely needed if you want to work for a municipality or government agency.
The Costs of Becoming a Landscape Inspector and/or Soil Inspector
The cost of training to become a landscape inspector and/or soil inspector varies. CE and professional development classes to learn the general specialty run under between $50 to $150 per course. More comprehensive certificate training and degree programs run into the thousands.
A mold inspector is an inspector trained to look for illness-causing mold growth and/or evidence of water damage that could lead to mold growth inside and outside of a home. During inspections, mold inspectors usually also test for mold spores on surfaces and in the air as well as perform moisture testing. If mold is found, mold inspectors will identify the source of the mold and determine a remediation plan.
Comprehensive mold inspections are generally priced between $500 and $700.
How to Become a Mold Inspector
Mold inspectors need to have extensive knowledge of how to spot mold, the different types of mold, how it develops, moisture control, where mold can develop, and how to remove it. You’ll also need to check your state requirements for training necessary to legally work as a mold inspector in your state. Mold certification courses are available to give you the knowledge you need, and the EPA also offers its own mold course that can be used as CE.
Who Hires Mold Inspectors?
Mold inspectors and mold testers are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, and private companies.
The Costs of Becoming a Mold Inspector
The cost of training to become a mold inspector varies based on the training you choose. Mold inspector certification courses run on average between $300 and $500. More comprehensive mold inspection and remediation training can run into the thousands.
Plumbing and Water Systems Inspection
Plumbing inspectors are almost always licensed plumbers. Plumbing and water systems inspectors perform visual checks on all plumbing, pipes, connections, shutoff valves, and fixtures that make up a home or building’s plumbing system. They also use diagnostic cameras to check for leaks or signs of improper drainage.
Water testing and water systems inspectors are a little different in that they test a home’s water supply or well for major contaminants and pollutants.
Plumbing inspections are priced between $150 and $300 and more if using a camera. Water testing, depending on the number and type of tests performed, can run up to $600.
How to Become a Plumbing and/or Water Systems Inspector
You need in-depth knowledge of how plumbing systems operate in order to work as a plumbing inspector. Additionally, your state may require you to be a licensed plumber or certified plumbing inspector in order to legally offer these services. Trade schools and technical colleges offer these training programs.
Water testers and water systems inspectors generally need to become certified to offer these services. Your state may also have its own set of training requirements. The Water Quality Association offers various professional certifications in water testing and water systems inspections. You can also take water testing certification courses to become certified.
Who Hires Plumbing and Water Systems Inspectors?
Plumbing and water systems inspectors are hired by homebuyers, homeowners, sellers, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, and private companies.
The Costs of Becoming a Plumbing and Water Systems Inspector
Learning the plumbing trade at a trade school or technical college can run into the thousands. Water testing courses and water systems inspection certifications start around $100 and go up to around $500.
Pool and Spa Inspection
Pool inspectors check the condition of pools and spas, including evaluating the mechanical systems, electrical wiring, lighting, pool interior, deck condition, fencing, and tiling in and around the pool. Pool inspectors also check for safety issues that may need to be corrected. These inspections are priced usually between $150 and $300.
How to Become a Pool and Spa Inspector
Pool and spa inspectors generally need to have specialized training and/or a certification in order to legally perform these types of inspections. It’s important to check your state’s requirements. The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance offers a certification program for pool and spa inspectors. You can also take pool and spa inspection CE courses to learn this specialized area.
Who Hires Pool/Spa Inspectors?
Pool and spa inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, universities, and private companies.
The Costs of Becoming a Pool/Spa Inspector
Pool and spa inspection CE and certification courses are generally around $100 to $300 for completion.
Like asbestos, radon can cause serious health issues – including lung cancer – if unsafe levels are found inside a home. Radon inspectors are skilled inspectors who specialize in radon testing and mitigation. During a radon inspection, a radon inspector tests air samples for unsafe levels of radon gas or radioactive particles. If unsafe levels are found, the inspector recommends steps to take to reduce radon levels, including installing a radon mitigation system.
The price for a professional radon inspection usually runs between $100 and $300.
How to Become a Radon Inspector
Radon inspectors need to be certified to legally offer their services. The EPA has its own standards of practice for radon inspectors and your state may its own set of requirements, too. Both the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) and the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) offer certification training recognized by the EPA. You can also take radon measurement CE and professional development courses – and many of them use NRPP- or NRSB-approved curriculum.
Who Hires Radon Inspectors?
Radon inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, schools, and private companies.
The Costs of Becoming a Radon Inspector
The cost of radon inspection training and certification varies depending on whether you get certified as a radon tester or more extensively as a radon mitigation specialist. Certification courses run on average between $200 up to $600. There are also renewal requirements you’ll need to meet to keep your certification active every two years.
While roof inspections are a primary focus of a home inspection, if a roof is found to be in poor condition, a more thorough inspection is necessary. Licensed roof inspectors look for issues like leaks, structural damage, cracks on flashing, damaged or missing shingles, roof decay, and much more. A roof inspector might also use drone technology and infrared imaging technology to spot hard-to-see damage and check thoroughly for moisture problems.
Standard roof inspections are generally priced between $150 and $350 and higher when using drone and/or infrared technology.
How to Become a Roof Inspector
Each state has different licensing requirements for roofing professionals, so you’ll need to review your state’s requirements before considering your training. Many states require you to pass a state exam before becoming a licensed. The exam will typically test your general and regional roofing knowledge as well as your knowledge of the different types of roofing and the common problems you may find.
The National Roof Certification and Inspection Association (NRCIA) is the training authority for certified roof inspectors. The NRCIA offers a two- to four-week certification course to earn your roof inspector certification.
Who Hires Roof Inspectors?
Roof inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, private companies, roofing companies, and construction contractors.
Costs of Becoming a Roof Inspector
The cost of NRCIA certification training runs between $700 and $900, depending on the membership level you choose. Your state may also have its own fees and licensing requirements you’ll need to meet.
Septic System and Sewer Inspection
Septic systems and sewer lines generally fall outside of the realm of a standard home inspection. Qualified septic system inspectors are trained to inspect septic tanks and their components. Sewer inspectors – who may also be septic system inspectors – are trained to inspect sewer lines that are an extension of a home or building’s plumbing system. In some cases, a licensed plumbing inspector or plumber might also be a septic system/sewer inspector.
Septic system and sewer inspections are usually priced around $100 to $300 or more depending on the depth of a septic tank and if it’s a visual or full inspection.
How to Become a Septic System/Sewer Inspector
Your state’s Department of Environmental Quality likely has specific training and licensing requirements in order to work as a septic system and sewer inspector. You might also need to get certified as a wastewater systems management specialist. The National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT) offers a septic system/sewer inspector certification program and has relationships with many state wastewater associations. You can also take CE and professional development courses to learn septic system testing and assessment.
Who Hires Septic System/Sewer Inspectors?
Septic system and sewer inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, private companies, plumbing companies, and construction contractors.
The Costs of Becoming a Septic System/Sewer Inspectors
Septic system and sewer inspection certification programs generally run between $200 and $500, depending on the training program you choose.
Termites and other wood-damaging pests are bad news for any home or building. While home inspectors may spot-check for signs of termite damage, it’s always best to have a more specialized termite inspection done for a home. In fact, some home purchase contracts require a termite inspection to move forward.
Termite inspectors look for signs of a termite infestation, such as wood damage, mud tubes, termite droppings, moisture issues, termite exit holes, and wood-to-ground contact. He or she might also use special equipment to inspect hard-to-reach areas where termites are suspected to be.
Termite inspections are generally priced between $200 and $600.
How to Become a Termite Inspector
Your state likely has requirements in order to legally work as a termite inspector. You might also need an additional license if you plan to offer pesticide treatment as part of your inspection services. Check with your state’s regulatory office to learn about approved termite and pest control inspection training.
The National Pest Management Association offers a number of pest management courses. You can also train via CE courses.
Who Hires Termite Inspectors?
Termite inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, pest control companies, and construction contractors.
The Costs of Becoming a Termite Inspector
The cost of termite and pest control inspection training programs vary. Check with your state’s requirements for an accurate estimate of the fees needed to become certified.
Underground Oil Tank Inspection
Underground oil tanks were commonly installed with homes built between the 1930s and 1980s – before cities installed natural gas lines. Now, they’re a big liability that could negatively affect the environment and homeowner safety.
Underground oil tank inspectors are trained to locate underground oil tanks, test for gas leaks, test the surrounding soil and groundwater for chemical seepage, and evaluate the tank overall for safety. Some inspectors also remove underground oil tanks when necessary, as part of their service.
Underground oil tank inspections are generally priced at $300 to start and upward with additional soil, groundwater, and ultrasonic testing. The price for removing an underground oil tank tends to be $3,000 to $5,000 or more depending on how much cleanup is involved.
How to Become an Underground Oil Tank Inspector
There are many trade associations that offer training programs for underground oil tank inspection, testing, and removal. You can find a list of these organizations at the EPA site. Your state likely also has its own requirements you’ll need to meet to become certified through its environmental safety office.
Who Hires Underground Oil Tank Inspectors?
Underground oil tank inspectors are hired by homebuyers, sellers, homeowners, land owners, commercial building owners, municipalities, government agencies, and construction contractors.
The Costs of Becoming an Underground Oil Tank Inspector
The cost of training to become an underground oil tank inspector can run between $300 to over $1,000 because of the nature of this specialty. It all depends on your state’s training requirements.
AHIT Prepares You for Home Inspection and All the Specialties In Between!
As a home inspector, there are many specialties and certifications to consider that can help increase your annual income. Keep in mind that AHIT offers certification courses and professional development programs to help prepare you for all of these home inspector specialties and help you add to your services.