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Electrical inspectors verify that proper connections, wiring methods, and materials are used during construction and remodeling projects.
This includes lighting, security systems, major appliances, and HVAC systems to guarantee that efficiency and safety standards are met.
Other tasks they handle include the following:
- Checking and testing electrical wiring, equipment, and circuitry in homes, buildings, and industrial installations
- Approving the type and size of wiring and the ratings of electrical connectors and panels
- Verifying that installations meet the local and national electrical code requirements
Most inspectors start their careers as regular electricians, growing their expertise through years of experience.
This expertise they gained makes their work less physically demanding, focusing more on utilizing their hard-won knowledge.
So let’s take a look at their journey from being an apprentice to journeyman, and, later on, master.
- Electrical Inspectors at Work
- Electrical Inspectors and the National Electrical Code
- Becoming an Electrical Inspector
- Potential Salary and Job Prospects
Electrical Inspectors at Work
Electrical inspectors are independent workers.
They are responsible for making appointments and contacting contractors and project managers who perform tasks that require inspections.
As they move up the career ladder in the field, electrical inspectors may acquire more responsibilities, including:
- Taking part in code review conferences
- Reviewing other inspectors’ reports
- Providing input on possible changes and additions to local building codes
The work environment of electrical inspectors is usually less demanding than electricians.
That doesn’t mean, however, they won’t have to squeeze in tight spots and climb ladders.
On the Job Site
Inspectors often have to work on active construction sites with open walls and exposed wiring.
This brings an array of difficulties and hazards you can expect, including working around other workers finishing their projects.
Like everybody else on the construction site, they have to wear protective equipment like high-visibility vests and helmets.
Inspecting finished constructions can be even more complex.
Walls and ceilings are in place, so they may have to get into the service areas with limited access.
They will use mirrors and flashlights to check wiring and equipment.
Also, they will use electrical test equipment, including:
- Wire tracing, tone generators, and locating tools
- Moisture meters
- Multimeters and multi-purpose scope meters
- Earth/ground and insulation resistance testers
- Thermal imaging cameras
In the Office
Electrical inspectors work mostly in the office.
After conducting an inspection and making notes on a specific site or building, they will write a report about their findings.
This involves frequently checking code manuals and records from past inspections.
With the Government
Some inspectors will work for municipal, county, or state government agencies.
There, they are tasked with approving and issuing permits.
Permit issuance will involve the following on their part:
- Site or building inspections
- Review permit applications
- Deal/communicate with contractors and homeowners
In addition, they should deliver the requirements for electrical installations clearly.
This includes any deficiencies in the plan and the steps required to make the system according to the codes.
Electrical Inspectors and the National Electrical Code
The National Electric Code (NEC) is the leading authority of the electrical trade.
Many local and state governments adopt the NEC as their building codes and amend it according to their specific needs.
It contains nine chapters, covering practices and conventions, including the following:
- Limitations and differences between branch circuits and feeders
- Separating high-voltage and low-voltage electrical systems and determining what constitutes each
- Ground requirements
- Insulation, conduit, and cabling standards
- Requirements for wiring size and conductivity for different voltages and types of service
So it’s important for inspectors to know the NEC and any state and other regional code variations.
For more information, visit the National Electrical Contractors Association for the code(s) adopted by states.
Becoming an Electrical Inspector
An electrical inspector will start as a licensed electrician, gaining experience in preparation for the role.
At the least, employers will require a number of journeyman experience before considering you as an inspector.
Your employers will most likely be the following:
- Local and state government agencies that handle code compliance and enforcement
- Construction companies
Or, if you choose, you can work as an independent contractor for homeowners, builders, and real estate.
Electrical inspectors don’t usually need more than a high school diploma.
However, you can opt to go to a community college and earn a/an…
- Associate’s degree in electrical technology or building inspection
- Bachelor’s degree or PE in electrical engineering
With it, you can boost your qualifications and speed up the path toward electrical inspection.
Licensing requirements can vary from state to state.
Some will offer a separate electrical inspector license, while others will consider them as part of a journeyman or master license.
In any case, to offer and provide electrical inspection services, you need a contractor’s license.
Sometimes, professional certification is enough for state licensing boards to issue a specialty inspector’s license.
At other times, they will require you to successfully pass the statewide licensing tests.
Professional certifications are required often if you want to become an electrical contractor.
The International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) offers certification programs and continuing education to electrical inspectors.
They offer three certification programs:
- Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI)
- Canadian Certified Electrical Inspector (CCEI)
- National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI)
Of the three, CEI is a widely accepted certification for electrical inspectors.
It has two exam options:
- Certified Electrical Inspector Master (CEI-M)
- Certified Electrical Inspector Residential (CEI-R)
To qualify for either, you need a high school diploma or GED and meet one of the following:
- A journeyman or a master electrician license
- BS or PE in Electrical Engineering
- An associate degree in Electrical Construction Technology or equivalent
- Complete a registered apprenticeship program
- Meet the required hours of experience
- CEI-M – 8,000 hours of experience as an electrician or 4,000 hours in electrical inspection
- CEI-R – 4,000 hours as an electrician or 2,000 hours in electrical inspection
In addition, the IAEI operates on behalf of the Canadian Certification Committee (CCEI).
It offers electrical installation and product approval inspectors’ certifications in Canada.
- CEI-APP for Electrical Product Approval
- CEI-EI for Electrical Installation
National organizations developed the National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI) for code enforcement.
It offers three certification exam options for plan reviewers and construction code inspectors.
- General (2B)
- One- and Two-Family (2A)
- Plan Review (2C)
These will assess your competency and technical knowledge of the electrical code.
Many inspectors can also get certifications through the International Code Council (ICC).
Although ICC doesn’t offer specialized electrical inspection certifications, some of its national certificates are valuable for inspectors.
- Energy Conservation
- Residential Inspector
- Code Enforcement
- Green Building
If you aim to become a home electrical inspector, you can get the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) certification.
They offer the Certified Electrical Inspector as a residential certification only.
Potential Salary and Job Prospects
The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes electrical inspectors together with other construction and building inspectors.
The median salary nationwide for the entire category stands at $57,340 per year.
You can expect considerably higher pay, as demonstrated by the listings from August 2016 (data for illustration purposes only):
- Electrical Inspector in Durham city, North Carolina – $45,825/year to $71,467/year
- Field Investigator for electrical trades in Oklahoma – $3466.47/month to $3648.92/month
- Electrical Inspector in Gresham city, Oregon – $59,496/year to $75,984/year
Also, since many inspectors work for the government, they have better job security and benefits.
The employment rate is projected to grow by 8% over the next 10 years, which is about the same as other occupations.
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