What is a Building Inspection Degree?

Building inspectors are responsible for ensuring that construction and renovation projects meet building codes and standards, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. Public health, fire safety, energy conservation and sustainability, and building accessibility are the objectives of building inspection.

Degree programs in the field teach students how to recognize construction defects in areas like building foundations and frames, electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation, heating systems, drainage, and sewers.

Program Options

Certificate in Building Inspection Technology – One Year Duration
Associate Degree in Building Inspection Technology – Two Year Duration

At most schools, the certificate and associate degree programs in building inspection technology have the same core course requirements. The additional requirements at the associate level are made up of general education courses in areas such as English, communications, mathematics, statistics, economics, foreign languages, general biology, general chemistry, psychology, and sociology.

Here is an overview of the core courses in a building inspection technology training program:

  • International Residential Building Code – Building Envelope, Structure, Exterior, Roofing
  • International Residential Building Code – Mechanical
  • International Residential Building Code – Plumbing
  • International Residential Building Code – Electrical
  • Non-Residential Mechanical Code
  • Non-Residential Plumbing Code
  • National Electric Code
  • Fire Inspection and the International Fire Code
  • Introduction to Building Plans
  • Applying Residential Codes to Building Plans
  • Applying Non-Residential Codes to Building Plans
  • Building Plans and Compliance with Basic Engineering Principles
  • Computer Applications for the Inspection Industry
  • Presenting Code Information through Electronic Media
  • Permit Tracking and Structural Calculation Software
  • Introduction to Building Inspection – professional ethics, technical mathematics for building inspection, how building codes are developed
  • Soils, Concrete, and Masonry in the Built Environment – soil types, concrete and masonry mixes
  • Interfacing the International Fire Code with the International Building Code
  • Building Code and Disabled Accessibility
  • Building Permit Officer Interactions with Consumers – basic building concepts, types of inspection, plan and map reading, collecting permit fees, records research, resolving difficult situations, intercultural communication
  • The International Energy Code and Building Codes for Sustainability
  • Existing Building Codes – codes concerning use and re-use of buildings, repairs and renovations, historic buildings
  • Legal Aspects of Administering and Enforcing the Building Code

Degrees Similar to Building Inspection

A degree in architecture will appeal to individuals who have an interest in and appreciation for both the sciences and the arts. This is because architecture is itself the art and science of designing and engineering structures and buildings. It is a field with a foundation in creativity, technology, and social and cultural trends.

Carpentry training programs teach the skilled trade of cutting, shaping, and assembling wood for buildings and other structures. Students of the trade learn about the two basic types of carpentry: rough carpentry and finish carpentry.

Civil Engineering
This degree field is focused on the processes of design and planning of civil infrastructure like roads, tunnels, bridges, dams, railroads, and airports. In their work, civil engineers are concerned with such things as how much weight a structure can support and the environmental issues presented by construction. The emphasis of civil engineering degree programs is math, statistics, engineering systems and mechanics, building codes, and statistical analysis.

Construction Management
Construction managers plan, organize, direct, control, supervise, and evaluate construction work. Construction management degree programs teach the various aspects of the occupation, which include preparing cost estimates and contracts, budgeting, hiring subcontractors, managing staffing schedules, enforcing building codes and safety regulations, labor relations, liaising with clients, and overall project management.

Drafting Technology
This degree field teaches students to use computer programs to create specialized drawings that are used in engineering, construction, and manufacturing.

This degree field prepares students to work as electricians – the tradespeople who install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring and systems, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, security, lighting, and computer networks. Programs may cover all types of electrical work, while others may focus on one of the four principal classifications of the electrical trade: residential, commercial, industrial, low voltage.

Engineering Technology
Engineering technology programs teach the engineering skills required to assist engineers in their work. Common classes are computers for engineering technology, construction methodologies, structural systems, strength of materials, and technical drawing.

Some of the subfields of engineering technology are civil engineering technology, construction engineering technology, aerospace engineering technology, and automotive engineering technology.

Plumbing degree programs teach the skilled trade of installing, maintaining, and repairing plumbing fixtures and systems. These systems include water, heating, irrigation, sewage, fuel, medical gas, and compressed air.

Real Estate
Degree programs in real estate teach students the processes involved in developing, appraising, buying, and selling land, homes, and buildings.

Surveying Engineering
Students of surveying engineering learn how to use geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and various technologies to measure and map land surfaces and their features.

Skills You’ll Learn

The process of earning a degree in building inspection leaves students with a wide scope of transferable skills:

  • Attention to detail – building codes are by definition very precise
  • Communication – interact with others and explain how problems need to be fixed
  • Critical and analytical thinking – critically analyze complex problems
  • IT skills
  • Judgement and diplomacy – know how to assess and when to insist upon corrections, negotiate, and compromise
  • Organization and time management – schedule and plan efficiently
  • Physical stamina – the work involves a lot of standing and maneuvering of tight spaces
  • Problem-solving – respond to issues in a calm manner
  • Report writing
  • Technical and mechanical – read blueprints drawings, and plans; understand standards and regulations; and use testing equipment

What Can You Do with a Building Inspection Degree?

The vast majority of building inspection grads go on to work directly in the field. These are their most common employers:

  • Local governments
  • State governments
  • Engineering firms
  • Construction companies
  • Architectural firms
  • Civil engineering consulting firms
  • Private building inspection companies
  • Self-employment

Within each of the above sectors, building inspectors may perform one or more of the following kinds of inspection:

  • Overall structural quality and safety of buildings
  • Steel structures
  • Reinforced concrete structures
  • Coating inspection – examination of exterior coatings and paint on infrastructure like bridges and pipelines
  • Electrical inspection
  • Elevator inspection
  • Inspection of newly built or previously owned homes on behalf of buyers and sellers
  • Mechanical inspection – inspection of heating/ventilation/air conditioning/refrigeration systems, commercial kitchen equipment, gas-fired appliances, and boilers
  • Plan review – examination of building plans to ensure compliance with building codes
  • Plumbing inspection
  • Public works and infrastructure inspection
  • Specification inspection – examination of construction to ensure compliance with design specifications


Find out what graduates typically earn.

Read about Salary