If you are not currently a licensed home inspector, read this first

Home Inspection is a licensed profession and a trade in-and-of itself; much like electricians, plumbers, chimney professionals and HVAC technicians. Many people think home inspectors must have years of experience in contracting to gain the necessary knowledge. As a matter of fact, that is the furthest thing from the truth! The best home inspectors we’ve met have had very little (if any) experience in contracting. Why is that? Well, we’ve found that contractors tend to look at a home as though they were the one that built it. In home inspection, you need to look at the entire house as a system to determine if everything is functioning as designed. Side note: honestly, if you are a contractor looking for an easy career change – this will be a wake-up call. You have to come into home inspection with an open mind and forget most everything you know. You will probably even learn that you’ve been doing things wrong for many years (sorry)! The best inspectors we’ve met have made the jump from other professions where attention to detail is key – veterinary offices, eye doctors, pilots, retail management, law enforcement, firefighters, etc…

Home Inspectors are an independent third party during a real estate transaction and it’s our job to be a generalist. A home inspection is much like going to see your doctor for a check-up. If your doctor observes symptoms of a problem of one of your systems, he or she will likely refer you to a specialist. That’s exactly what we do as home inspectors. Sometimes we find an item or system that is not operating correctly, and we’ll refer you to a specialist as well (only in this case, the specialist will be an electrician, HVAC technician, etc…). We spend much of our day educating our customers on how things work and then sitting in front of the computer writing thorough, non-biased reports.

If you are not currently enrolled in a training program or do not currently hold a home inspection license, it will take some time, energy (and money) before you can become a home inspector. You must go to school, pass tests, and have a clear criminal background check before you can even submit an application to the state for a license. So if you’re looking for a quick career change, this might not be it. Many prospective home inspectors will enroll in school part-time to learn the new profession while still working in their current career.

You’ll pay for my training, right?

Do NOT expect a home inspection company to hire you and pay for your training. There may be apprenticeship opportunities available part-time, especially during the busy summer months, but don’t expect full-time hours, benefits or more than $12-14/hour. This may be the best way to gain some experience if you can afford to do so. It is a lot like going to college or trade school – you can’t expect a prospective employer to foot the bill, especially if there’s a high likelihood that you’ll jump ship before you even earn your keep.

It may be in your best interest to reach out to a trusted local home inspector (ask around on your town Facebook page, check with your local Realtor, etc.) and ask if you can ride along for a day or two to get a taste of what a home inspector’s day is like.

If you decide you want to work for a company, you will likely be asked to sign a Non-Compete agreement that will prevent you from taking their trade-secrets and going out on your own for a specific amount of time. And yes, these are enforceable in NH!

Most home inspector positions are listed as part-time. Why?

Well, it does take some time to ramp-up to a full schedule and it takes time to build a reputation. We do have a slow-season. Typically November-February the real estate market in this area slows down. That’s when we get caught up on training and continuing education classes (most take 20+ hours of courses each year). You need to be able to budget your earnings. We joke around and say you have 9 months to earn a year’s worth of income; however, there is some truth to that! We do still have a number of inspections each week during the winter, but don’t expect full-time hours (and pay) year-round. Many inspectors pick up other part-time jobs during the winter to keep themselves occupied. Some plan longer vacations and getaways during the slow season. If you’re looking for flexibility in your schedule so you can spend 4-day weekends at your lake house every weekend during the summer – home inspection is probably not a viable career for you.

Keep in mind, there are hundreds of licensed home inspectors in NH. Many of which thought this would be an easy career change and they’d be stuffing their pockets with rolls of cash. Most will tell you it wasn’t worth their time, which means they didn’t have what it takes to be a home inspector. Only a small percentage of those licensed can make a career in the profession. However, there is an extreme shortage of well-trained, knowledgeable, customer-service oriented (what I call professional) home inspectors in NH. If you think you have what it takes, please continue reading!

OK, I’m interested! What are my next steps?

Step 1: Visit the State’s website to search for accredited Pre-Licensing training programs and learn more. There are a lot of courses available online, however hands-on training tends to give the best results. Do some research on the courses as not all are created equal!

Step 2: Visit the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) website: nachi.org. Research and educate yourself about the profession as much as you can. Take their online courses in addition to your pre-licensing course work!

Step 3: Talk with your local home inspectors.

You may find the local Facebook group helpful:

NH Home Inspectors Group