Whether you’re starting a new career in home inspection or you’ve got years of experience under your belt, you have to study to keep up with changes in the home inspection industry.The realm of home inspection can provide a great career even if you’re switching gears later in life, but you will need to understand the continuing education requirements and learn how to find out what classes will meet these needs.
Depending on your learning style, you can earn and maintain your license in a wide variety of ways. Home inspection education courses and information managed by industry groups, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors, can be taken in local community colleges, through independent training schools, or even in your PJ’s at home.
Home Inspector Qualification
The first step in learning the trade is seeing what you need to become a home inspector. Currently, 39 states require home inspectors to be licensed and undergo continuous training.
Many states even require you to have hours of approved education credits before you apply for a license. Most of these hours will need to be in a classroom setting, though some may be in-field training to give you hands-on experience.
The National Association of Home Inspectors has created an interactive map that can help you quickly find the licensing requirements for your state. It’s important to read these requirements and check to see if your state requires inspector insurance. Even if this isn’t required, it can be a smart business decision because it gives you a lot of protection when opening your own small business as an inspector.
Once you’ve obtained your license, you’ll need to study continually in order to keep up with best practices and meet requirements for getting your license renewed.
Continuing Education for Home Inspectors
In most states, you’re required to do 32 hours of state commissioner-approved continuing education courses before you can renew your home inspector license. It’s best to check with your individual state’s home inspector licensing program—usually run by the Department of Commerce and Insurance—to verify your specific requirements.
Texas, for instance, requires 32 hours every two years; 16 must be done each year. Half of these hours must also cover “Standards of Practice” education. In most states, these courses typically cover:
- Legal and Ethics Content
- General Provisions
- Report Writing
For Florida, the home inspection CE requirement covers just 14 hours and breaks its requirements down as:
- Two Hours: Wind Mitigation
- Two Hours: Building Systems
- Two Hours: Inspection Methods
- One Hour: Report Writing
- One Hour: Professional Practices
- Six Hours: General Credits
You may have even more continuing education requirements depending on any associations you join. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) requires 20 hours of continuing education each year, while the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) requires eight hours each year—these may or may not count toward the CE requirements of your state license. Always check when it comes to your home inspection training.
Another great reason to check with your state is that it can provide you with a list of approved continuing education classes for home inspectors. For example, take a look at Tennessee’s here.
The problem that you’ll run into with these large lists is that they’re too tough to dig through yourself. Tennessee’s posted list, for example, contains 763 different classes and some of these will be from 2012 or even before.
Are Online Courses Legit?
Many great home inspector continuing education programs offer a mix of in-person and online courses. Online courses are accepted in every state that requires continuing education, though some CE needs will specifically state if a certain class must be attended in person.
When choosing an online service or an in-person program that offers parts or additional content online, it’s best to choose a program that’s approved by your association. Many online services work very hard to get their courses approved by both the American Society of Home Inspectors and the National Association of Home Inspectors.
Check for these seals of approval so you know that your online course is of the utmost quality.
One thing to be aware of is that online courses typically require mid- to advanced-level computer skills. For most courses, one hour of approved credit will take one hour of computer time. However, these are often split up into multiple lessons so you can work on your CE in 15 to 30 minute intervals.
With online classes you can access the content and materials 24/7, so you can fit it into your schedule however you want. This allows you to work from any location; but, if you’re always at home, you can also get printed course materials mailed to you for these courses.
Another great thing about online courses is that they offer “independent study” programs that many people may be familiar with from high school and college. These are self-guided CE programs that let you learn the content you want in the style that best fits you. Independent study programs allow you to repeat lessons and tests until you reach a certain level of competence. This means you can master the content at your own pace and not have to repeatedly pay for a single course.
Many online programs don’t have specific start and stop dates; therefore, you won’t have to wait for a certain time or enrollment period. You simply sign up and begin working through the online materials at your leisure.
Best Sources for News and Tips
The home inspection industry changes often with new trends, tools, and techniques that you’ll want to be familiar with in order to be a successful home inspector.
Your best news resources will initially be the websites of the top agencies and groups that you join for home inspectors. The great thing about the ASHI and NAHI websites is that they’ll offer you multiple pages for different types of information or needs.
Top services from the ASHI include:
- Its main page offers you featured inspection news stories as well as a calendar for important dates around training and inspector requirements.
- The ASHI Reporter is a monthly digital publication that gives you some great reads about running a home inspection business, learning new best practices and seeing in-depth reviews of new policies and practices.
- ASHI member news will tell you about upcoming CE courses, show you new standards, provide videos of society meetings, and give recaps of ASHI decisions.
NAHI offers a variety of different information sources. These include:
- NAHI main page will show you upcoming industry news and events. This includes their conference information as well as online resources and upcoming webinars that can help you choose a CE program or learn a new skill.
- NAHI general news information that focuses on member and industry news. This largely shows changes in inspection practices or new requirements that you’ll have to adhere to.
- NAHI webinar archives provide you with great videos that can boost your CE. Many videos show proper ways to perform inspections and can help with business practices, such as managing difficult customers. Videos also include new tests, such as how to detect Chinese Drywall.
You can also look to some smaller organizations, such as the American Home Inspectors Training Institute that provides you the most recent news from around the Web based on different industry sections like inspecting sump pumps, what’s new with tank-less water heaters, and properly bonding CSST.
Meeting Other Inspectors
There are two great ways to meet other home inspectors to learn what’s new with the industry and make sure you stay up-to-date on your profession.
The quickest way to find other home inspectors in your area is to join a national organization that has a chapter in your city or state. Chapters will run meetings and host events so you can show up for home inspector training, but you’ll also find many great people who share your passion.
Your geographic location may limit which organization you can join, but every state has at least one large organization that offers events and annual meetings.
After you’ve found those groups that can handle your continuing education and organizations for training, you may want to discuss your trade with other people more often. Social media is often your best bet for a lively discussion about what’s new in the home inspection market.
Your best online option is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn offers message boards and forums for each of the big, national home inspection and real estate inspection groups. These LinkedIn pages will be monitored and managed by a member of your organization so they typically include all of the upcoming CE information you need.
On top of that, LinkedIn groups also allow members to post content they’ve read or questions they have. For home inspectors, conversations often revolve around new inspection techniques or concerns, such as using continuous monitors for radon in-air testing.
Members are great at sharing new blogs and information that can help you every day. This even includes notices from the government, such as a recent air conditioner recall from Trane. LinkedIn members have engaged in a vigorous debate over the quality of the Trane XB300 and American Standard Silver SI air conditioning systems, but now they’re talking about the best way to remove these systems and get the recall properly serviced.
Asking for Help
There’s only so much work we can do on our own. When you’re running a business, even in the home inspection industry, it’s always okay to ask for help when you’re getting started or trying to increase your revenue.
An interesting thing about the home inspector market is that customers won’t typically come to you, even if you hang a shingle and tell all your friends about your new business. Many homeowners won’t actively seek you out, especially first-time home buyers who aren’t aware of what your industry does.
One big tip for home inspectors is to start networking to get your name out there and establish relationships with someone who can refer business to you. A top way to start generating new leads and referrals is to look for people whose business is similar to yours or has a customer who would overlap. Among the most common is the local real estate agent.
There are two top places to meet real estate agents in your area:
- Their office. Real estate agents often have a central office for their organization where many agents congregate and work. These can be your best networking opportunities because you can meet with their ringleader and get multiple referrals through a single office. The office manager can let you know if they have an existing partnership. If they’re unsure or unaware of a partnership, take the time to speak with them about your capabilities and list the benefits you provide. Keep all your information useful to real estate agents so it lets them know exactly how it will benefit their clients: home buyers and home sellers.
- Open houses. Nothing stops you from walking into an open house and speaking with the agent on-site about your work. A great way to make a good impression is to bring the agent some coffee or bottled water. You can also give them coupons for your business. Talk to the agent when no one else is around, that way you’re not imposing upon their business and work. Exchange business cards and use the information on the card to follow up. A great way to follow up is mailing a letter to the agent’s office that asks how the open house went.
One category you should ask your new connections about is trends in your industry. One big trend so far in 2014 is the use of pre-sale home inspections to make it easier to sell a home. Many real estate agents are using “pre-inspection” notifications in their listings and can provide the inspection information to anyone interested in a home.
Making connections with your local real estate agents can help you cement this business because their customers will demand this inspection and agents can’t do it. These inspections provide you with a new customer base that is also likely to be a repeat.
There are four simple reasons that the trend will likely continue and be embraced by sellers:
Maintaining Your License
The most important part of being a home inspector is keeping your license up-to-date. Without this, you’ll be in a lot of hot water for any of the work you do in your state or elsewhere.
Keeping your license in order is all about getting the right continuing education for home inspectors through well-qualified programs. Find a partner who offers flexible study and can fit with your daily business operations.
Don’t stick with a CE company that makes you come in to a class at a certain time or on a specific day. You don’t want to lose out on business today for the CE requirements that keep your license for tomorrow!
Another big item to check is that your education partner offers you CE that works for multiple states and comes with a guarantee to protect your investment. Pick a plan that will match the published pricing of other competitors. This means you get your choice of a top CE provider at the best cost you can find.
State CE offers the right home inspector training and lets you meet your home inspector qualifications through courses from instructors who are certified by your state’s licensing body. Stay in compliance and keep your business strong.