The Pros and Cons of a Construction Safety Inspector Career
Construction safety inspectors inspect building projects to ensure compliance with safety standards, codes and regulations. There are many factors to consider when choosing a career, so keep reading to learn more about the construction safety inspector occupation.
|Pros of a Construction Safety Inspector Career|
|Job benefits (health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave)*|
|Variety of work activities (reading blueprints, inspecting different phases of construction, conducting tests, maintaining daily records)*|
|Variety of work environments (frequent travel to construction sites, some paperwork done in office)*|
|Can perform most job duties without supervision*|
|Cons of a Construction Safety Inspector Career|
|Potential conflict situations with people who disagree with the inspector's evaluations*|
|Exposure to contaminants, such as mold and other toxic materials*|
|Pressure to meet deadlines*|
|Irregular work schedules*|
Construction safety inspectors examine various structures, such as roads, dams, sewer systems, buildings and bridges. They ensure that all work and materials comply with zoning regulations, contract terms and building codes. Construction safety inspectors maintain daily inspection records and monitor all phases of construction. When violations occur, the inspectors immediately halt construction until the project is brought into compliance. Construction safety inspectors typically work full-time, but may have to work evenings and weekends during periods of peak activity. They spend the majority of their workday conducting inspections on construction sites, and spend part of their time writing reports and reviewing plans indoors.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction safety inspectors earned a mean annual wage of around $58,000 in 2014. Jobs for construction safety inspectors are projected to grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is about average.
Construction safety inspectors must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some employers prefer to hire construction safety inspectors who have a certificate or associate's degree in a construction-related field or some postsecondary training in engineering or architecture. The requirements for employment as a construction safety inspector vary with the location. Some cities and states require licensure or certification before one is legally able to work in this occupation. A construction safety inspector must have knowledge of construction materials and processes, building codes and zoning regulations. Other skills a construction safety inspector must demonstrate include:
- Complex problem-solving
- Oral and written comprehension and expression
- Critical thinking
- Near vision
- Time management
- Inductive and deductive reasoning
Job Listings from Real Employers
Job listings for construction safety inspectors typically explain the type of projects that the inspector will be working on. These listings often describe the duties the construction safety inspector will be required to perform. Following are some actual positions for construction safety inspectors that were open in May 2012:
- A Maryland firm seeks a construction inspector with a high school diploma or GED certificate and at least three years of experience inspecting bridges and roads in Maryland. Candidate must have or be able to obtain Mid-Atlantic Region Technician Certification and traffic control training.
- A construction consulting company in Virginia Beach has an opening for a senior construction inspector to work on road projects in the region. The job duties include traffic control, construction project scheduling and ensuring that all phases of construction are in compliance with specifications. Six years of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) construction inspection experience and VDOT certification are preferred.
- A Connecticut engineering and construction firm has a seasonal position available for a construction inspector to perform daily inspections of a sewer project and to ensure contractor compliance with the safety plan. The preferred candidate will have an associate's degree in civil engineering and experience with AutoCAD/Civil3D drafting.
How to Get an Edge
There are several strategies you can pursue to improve your chances of becoming a construction safety inspector. Obtaining several years of experience working in construction or a relevant industry will increase your chances of becoming a construction safety inspector. Training in construction technology, engineering or architecture will also improve your chances of securing employment as an inspector.
You can also receive certification from a professional association to increase your value in the job market. Some states mandate certification by a specific professional association as a prerequisite to licensure. The National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council, International Association of Electrical Inspectors and National Association of Home Inspectors are some organizations that provide the certification required by some states.
Alternate Career Paths
If you like to work outdoors and would prefer an occupation with brighter job prospects, surveying might be the field for you. Surveyors take measurements to determine land, water and airspace boundaries. They travel to various locations to measurement distance and angles and write reports on their findings. The data they collect is used to establish property boundaries and create maps. Most surveyors enter the field with a bachelor's degree, and a license is required in every state. According to the BLS, surveyors earned a mean annual wage of around $59,000 as of 2011, a little more than construction safety inspectors. The career outlook for surveyors is better, too, with a projected job growth of 25% between 2010 and 2020.
If you'd like to make more money in the construction field, you might want to consider a career as a construction manager. Construction managers oversee a broad range of construction projects, including bridges, roads and different types of buildings. They hire workers and tell them what to do. Also known as general contractors, they negotiate budgets, plan schedules and coordinate the different phases of construction. According to the BLS, construction managers earned a mean annual wage of around $84,000 as of 2011, considerably more than construction safety inspectors and surveyors. The career outlook for surveyors is about the same as for construction safety inspectors, with a projected job growth of 17% between 2010 and 2020.