What’s the Difference Between a Home Inspector License and a Home Inspector Certification?
Home inspector licenses and home inspector certifications—what’s the big difference?
At first, you might think these terms mean the same thing. After all, they’re both credentials you can earn as a new home inspector. But there’s a big difference between the two. Read on to find out what it is and why both are ideal to build a strong foundation for a successful home inspection business.
What is a Home Inspector License?
Just as a plumber or an electrician needs a license to legally provide services in most states, a home inspector needs a license to inspect homes. This isn’t the case for every state, but currently, 35 states require home inspectors to have licenses before opening up for business. Regardless of your state licensure requirements, completing a home inspection training course is important.
As a professional home inspector, you will evaluate the overall condition and safety of a home and share your educated opinion with your clients. This means you need to have the technical know-how to inspect the major home systems and ensure they function correctly. You need to be able to quickly identify problems that could affect your clients’ safety.
Earning your home inspection license (or, in unlicensed states, completing a training program) ensures you are qualified to perform this work. It improves your chances of being hired and recommended by clients and real estate agents. Plus, it’s a necessary step to take before you pursue a home inspector certification program.
What are the Requirements for Getting a Home Inspector License?
Earning a home inspection license in states that require them generally involves:
- Completing a home inspection training course
- Passing your state’s home inspector licensing exam
- Passing the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE)
The home inspection training program you choose may combine online and/or live classroom courses where you’ll learn about major home systems and how they work. It might also include field training time, where you can practice inspecting homes and writing reports.
For example, in Virginia—a state that requires a home inspector license—you must complete a 120-hour Virginia-approved home inspection course, pass the NHIE, and complete 25 “ride-along” home inspections with a licensed home inspector.
In Missouri—a state that doesn’t require home inspection licenses—there are no education requirements to meet. But it’s still important to complete a home inspection course to gain the technical knowledge you need to be successful.
Similarly, in some states, you might be able to complete your training hours fully online. Others might require live classroom and field training hours only. It all depends on your state requirements.
Keep in mind that field training with an experienced home inspector is beneficial even if you plan to complete most of your training hours online. There’s no substitute for practicing real inspections at real homes.
What is a Home Inspection Certification?
Home inspection certifications are a bit of a different animal. A home inspection certification is a credential you earn that means you’re qualified and trained to perform a certain type of home inspection. Certifications are popular among home inspectors because they expand the services you offer and help increase your revenue.
For example, becoming certified in mold inspection means you’re qualified to inspect homes for mold and moisture issues, properly report them, and recommend a mold remediation plan.
With a radon measurement certification, you’re qualified to test homes and buildings for unsafe radon levels. Depending on the type of radon testing certification you earn, you may also be able to perform radon mitigation in your state.
Becoming certified in different types of specialty inspections means you can potentially charge more per inspection by providing them as add-on services and even offer them to clients separately.
What are the Requirements for Getting a Home Inspector Certification?
There are lots of home inspection certifications available. Popular ones include:
- Mold Inspections
- Radon Inspections
- Asbestos Inspections
- Indoor Air Quality Inspections
- Termite Inspections
- Water Testing and Sampling
- Commercial Building Inspections
- HVAC Inspections
- Roof Inspections
- Pool and Spa Inspections
- Soil Testing and Analysis
- Plumbing Inspections
- Septic System and Sewer Inspections
- Sprinkler System and Irrigation Inspections
- Lead Paint Inspections
Here’s a complete list of certifications you can earn.
As with general home inspection training, certification courses involve online or classroom training to learn the specialty and, in some cases, field practice to learn how to perform these inspections.
How to Find the Right Home Inspection Training for You
Whether you live in a state where a home inspection license (and training) is required—or one where it’s not—it’s important to complete comprehensive home inspection training. Doing so ensures you know the Standard Operating Procedures of home inspection, helps you win more jobs, and is a prerequisite before you earn any home inspection certifications.