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Electrical inspectors verify that proper connections, wiring methods, materials are used in everything during construction and remodeling projects.
This includes lighting, security systems, major appliances, and even HVAC systems to guarantee that efficiency and safety standards are met.
Electrical inspectors are tasked with checking and testing electrical wiring, equipment, and circuitry in homes, buildings, and industrial installations.
They approve the type and size of wiring, the ratings of electrical connectors and panels.
They are also responsible for verification that installations meet the local and national electrical code requirements.
Most inspectors start their careers as regular electricians.
They grow their expertise in the field by gaining years of hands-on experience.
They advance from apprentice to journeyman and master.
The job of electrical inspectors is less physically demanding and focuses on the hard-won knowledge electricians have obtained from years of experience in the area.
- Electrical Inspectors In the Office on the Job Site
- Electrical Inspectors Should Comprehend the National Electrical Code (NEC)
- How to Become an Electrical Inspector
- Salary and Job Prospects
Electrical Inspectors In the Office on the Job Site
Electrical inspectors are independent workers.
They are responsible for making their 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 all the difficulties and hazards you can expect, including the necessity to work around other workers finishing their projects.
Like everybody else on the construction site, inspectors have to wear protective equipment like high-visibility vests and helmets.
Inspecting finished constructions can be even more complex.
Wall and ceilings are in place, so inspectors may have to get in the service areas with limited access, using mirrors and flashlights to check wiring and equipment.
In all instances, inspectors widely 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.
Electrical inspectors work mostly in the office.
After conducting an inspection and making notes on a specific site or building, they have to write a report on what they found.
This involves working on a computer, typing, and frequently checking code manuals and records from past inspections.
Inspectors who work for municipal, county, or state government agencies are also tasked with approving and issuing permits.
This includes inspections, reviewing permit applications, as well as dealing with contractors and homeowners who want their permits approved.
Inspectors should deliver the requirements for electrical installations clearly, together with any deficiencies in the plan, and steps required to make the system according to the codes.
Electrical Inspectors Should Comprehend the National Electrical Code (NEC)
The NEC (National Electric Code) is the authority of the electrical trade.
Even though the National Fire Protection Association, not the federal government, developed the code, it was adopted by almost all local and state municipal governments as their building codes.
The technical title of the up-to-date code is “NFPA Standard 70”.
The NEC has been operating since 1897, which is almost the same as electricity was in use in industrial applications.
The current code was last updated in 2014 and was to be updated in 2017 once more.
It contains nine separate chapters, which cover such practices and conventions as:
- The limitations and differences between branch circuits and feeders.
- Separating high voltage electrical systems and low voltage ones, 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.
Despite the NEC being the basis of most electrical codes, many jurisdictions adjust the fundamental code up to their specific requirements.
They may also use the National Electrical Safety Code a.k.an NFPA Standard C2.
Some states use a state-wide code.
Others authorize cities and counties to regulate the electrical installations locally.
Inspectors should know any state and other regional code variations.
The National Electrical Contractor’s Association has a complete page, which describes the code basis state-by-state, and how it’s used everywhere in the US.
How to Become an Electrical Inspector
Most commonly, inspectors have years of experience as licensed electricians before considering the position of an inspector.
This experience is critical for the job.
All employers expect applicants to have at least a few years of experience as a journeyman electrician.
Most inspectors are employed with the municipal, county, or state government agencies handling code compliance and enforcement.
They can also work for construction companies.
Alternatively, inspectors can work as independent contractors for home buyers, builders, and real estate professionals.
Licensing requirements can vary from state to state.
Some jurisdictions don’t have an electrical inspector’s license separately from the journeyman and master licenses.
Others, though, offer such a 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 inspectors’ license.
In other instances, comprehensive statewide licensing tests are involved, which you have to pass to obtain a license for inspection.
Professional certifications are required almost in all cases if you want to become an electrical contractor.
The IAEI (International Association of Electrical Inspectors) is a professional group and membership organization with training partners and chapters throughout the world.
IAEI offers continuing education for journeymen, supervisors, and electrical inspectors.
They partner with organizations such as IBEW, IEC, NEMA, and more.
IAEI offers three certification programs for plan reviewers and electrical inspectors:
- Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI).
- Canadian Certified Electrical Inspector (CCEI).
- National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI).
Certified Electrical Inspector (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 of the exams, you need a high school diploma or GED as a minimum and meet one of the requirements listed below:
- A license as a journeyman or a master electrician.
- BS or PE in Electrical Engineering.
- An associate degree in Electrical Construction Technology or similar degree.
- Complete a registered apprenticeship program.
- For CEI-R – 4,000 hours of job experience as an electrician or 2,000 hours of experience in electrical inspection | For CEI-M – 8,000 hours of experience as an electrician or 4,000 hours of experience in electrical inspection.
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 Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI) was developed by national organizations for code enforcement.
It offers three certification exam options for plan reviewers and construction code inspectors.
These exams are designed to assess competency and technical knowledge of electrical code:
- General (2B).
- One-and Two-Family (2A).
- Plan Review (2C).
Certification Options Available Through Other Organizations
Many inspectors can also get certifications through the International Code Council (ICC).
They don’t offer specialized electrical inspection certifications, but some of their national certificates are valuable for inspectors:
- Energy Conservation.
- Residential Inspector.
- Code Enforcement.
- Green Building.
Other certifications you can obtain include the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) Certified Electrical Inspector.
This option is meant primarily for home inspectors as a residential certification, and it might not be valid outside that field.
Electrical inspectors don’t usually need more than a high school diploma.
However, with an associate’s degree in electrical technology or building inspection from a community college, you can boost your qualifications and speed up the path to the electrical inspection area.
Inspectors may also obtain a bachelor’s degree or PE in electrical engineering, which can be very helpful.
With a degree, you can also become eligible to sit for the CEI certification examination.
Salary and Job Prospects
The US 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.
In total, inspectors can expect considerably higher pay, as demonstrated by the listings from August 2016 (the data is provided only as an example):
- Electrical Inspector in the Durham city, North Carolina – $45,825/year to $71,467/year.
- Field Investigator for electrical trades in Oklahoma – $3466.47/month – $3648.92/month.
- Electrical Inspector for the Gresham city, Oregon – $59,496/year – $75,984/year.
Also, since many inspectors work for the government, they have better job security and benefits.
The employment rate growth is projected by 8% over the next 10 years, which is about the same as other occupations nationwide.