How Do I Become a Building Official?

Bryce Clinton

To become a building official it's necessary to receive training or study on your own, and to pass one or several exams to get needed certifications. These certifications can be on a local or more national level depending on different building official careers. Experience, or even extensive experience, may also be required to reach a certain rank. Building official training for lower level building officials needing only a local license may be minimal; however in most cases, one must pass a rigorous exam.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Some building officials are the main jurisdictional administrator for building codes, permits, and various engineering and construction procedures. These officials might act as a project manager or engineer and may oversee other building officials who are in a lower capacity. Building official requirements for these roles are many, and one might have to receive a number of certifications, in addition to having comprehensive on-the-job experience.

To become a building official who is an inspector or a contractor will generally require less work, but you'll still have to pass certain tests. For example, in the United States, there are a number of tests that are administered by a nonprofit organization called the ICC (International Code Council). This organization oversees the building codes for most parts of the United States, and establishes many of the guidelines used to certify those hoping to become a building official. Most countries have their own organizations that function similarly; however, there can still be many differences on the local level.

One of the best ways to find out all the requirements you'll need to become a building official is to first decide what specific type of work you want to do. Since there are usually several certifications, each for different kinds of inspection or building code related work, you'll need to pursue them one at a time, especially if you want to advance beyond a certain point. There are a number of things you'll need to learn about, and you'll probably do best if you take some courses before trying to pass a test.

Among the skills you'll need to have to become a building official is knowledge of building and construction materials, tools, and methods; knowledge of technology and engineering principles and equipment; communication and customer service skills; and thorough knowledge of public safety, codes, and policies. After passing your exams and certifications, sometimes you may also need to complete an apprenticeship program. For more information about building official duties, training, and requirements, contact your local city government.

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