Building Code Inspector Shortage Looms

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Building inspectors perform a vital role in the construction process, but few young people are adopting this as a career. George Williams, a Salt Lake City building inspector is 34. While attending ongoing training at his local branch of the International Code Council (ICC), Williams had this to say; “Without fail, I was the youngest person in the room, every single time. Not slightly younger, but dramatically younger than nearly everyone else.”

60% of building inspectors in Williams’ native Utah are close to retirement. 85% are over 45 and only 3% are under 35. Building inspectors check that construction projects meet code, and they can manage projects and review plans.  

With the upturn of construction across the country, building inspectors can be a bottleneck where projects stall. Ensuring that there are enough inspectors will keep buildings safe and projects on time and within budget.

One of the reasons why being a building inspector is not a popular career choice is that students may not know that its an option. Most inspectors find the job when they are already in the trades where they can earn more money. While job security used to be better in the inspection game, most construction workers prefer to take their chances in the trades where they earn more. Cutbacks have eroded the benefits, salaries and job security that was once synonymous with a government job.

The ICC is taking measures to prevent a shortage of building inspectors by sponsoring programs in technical high schools. These programs help trades negotiate codes and encourage students to choose code inspection as a career.

States need to do more to encourage students to consider a careers as building inspectors to prevent a dearth that could affect construction professional’s ability to deliver projects on time. Municipalities and cities need to do more to ensure that a building inspector position holds with it a salary, benefits and job security that would encourage younger people to follow this career path.

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