How to Become a Home Inspector in California

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How to Become a Home Inspector in California

Many regard a house as a sanctuary, yet it only truly becomes a home when lived in.

Typically, houses undergo inspection during construction or significant renovations.

Additionally, homeowners often require the services of a home inspector when planning to sell their property.

In California, the requirements for becoming a home inspector are relatively straightforward, making this the right page for you if you aspire to join this profession.

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Home Inspector Job Description in California

The fundamental aspect to understand about a home inspection is that its primary goal is to identify any issues the house might have.

It’s essential to distinguish this from a home appraisal, which determines a house’s value based on various factors.

A home inspector assesses:

  • The functionality of heating and cooling systems.
  • Plumbing.
  • Electrical systems within the property.
  • The roof’s condition.
  • The structural integrity of the house.
  • Any damages caused by fire, water, insects, or other environmental factors.

Following the inspection, the inspector is obligated to compile a comprehensive report detailing their findings.

This report can significantly impact the house’s appraisal value and its chances of a quick sale.

Depending on the age of the house or building, a specialized home inspection might be needed.

This could involve assessments for:

  • Termite infestations.
  • The presence of other pests.
  • The presence of lead-based materials.
  • Asbestos.
  • Mold and mildew.
  • Radon gas.
  • Chimney integrity.
  • Other unique elements.

Specialized inspections often incur additional fees. While there are no stringent prerequisites for becoming a home inspector, holding a valid license is mandatory.

Complete Your Home Inspector Training in California

In California, home inspectors are overseen by the Division of Construction Management.

This division requires candidates to complete a 120-hour training course in home inspection.

Furthermore, you’ll need to perform some inspections under the guidance of a licensed home inspector.

Here are some schools you can consider for your training.


Consider enrolling in Inspection Certification Associates (ICA), which offers an online course for aspiring home inspectors.

This course costs $695.

It offers several advantages, such as:

  • A free report-writing software,
  • A one-month free membership with InterNACHI,
  • No time constraints for course completion
  • One-year access to Edcetera Home Inspection (it usually costs $99)
  • A certification number,
  • The necessary practice hours for licensing.

InterNACHI School

InterNACHI School is a well-known institution for those aspiring to become home inspectors.

The college offers free training to association members, with the course accessible online for convenience.

The membership costs only $49.

This organization also provides numerous benefits to its members, including support for marketing and business development.

School Name Address
ICA online
InterNACHI School online
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Pass the Licensing Exam as a Home Inspector in California

It’s important to note that there is no state-specific exam to become a licensed home inspector in California.

Instead, you must pass the national-level exam, which is conveniently available online.

Only after meeting these criteria can you register for the exam, which comprises two parts:

The National Home Inspector Exam (NHIE) consists of 200 questions (25 unscored) and lasts four hours.

It covers property and building inspection, site review, analysis of findings and reporting, and professional responsibilities.

The exam fee, approximately $225 (varies by location), applies, and candidates failing the test must wait 30 days before retaking it.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) exam, is free of charge.

Insurance as a Home Inspector in California

In California, home inspectors are not bound to have any insurance.

It is good practice to have at least one though.

Sometimes, home inspectors working for companies might be covered by the company’s insurance policy.

These are the most common policies:

  • General liability policy at around $40 per month
  • Errors and omissions insurance at around $59 per month

After completing all these steps, you can submit your license application and the associated fee.

The application must be notarized, and both documents can be submitted online.

Home Inspector Salary in California

For those embarking on a career that involves training and passing exams, it’s natural to want to know potential earnings.

In California, the average salary for this position is around $60,779 per year.

To provide a more detailed perspective, here are salary figures from cities with the highest median salaries in the state.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Alviso $69,155
Sunnyvale $69,155
Stanford $69,023
Sausalito $68,879
Alameda $67,226
Alamo $67,072
San Ramon $67,006
Vineburg $61,760
Tomales $61,716
Acton $61,502

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA260$83,210$40.01$125,770$46,840
Chico, CA50$90,650$43.58$130,470$49,520
Fresno, CA280$81,090$38.99$123,060$45,320
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA3,720$91,180$43.84$158,200$49,940
Madera, CA50$93,000$44.71$133,280$50,270
Modesto, CA150$82,940$39.88$127,910$42,960
Napa, CA30$106,780$51.34$130,390$76,610
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA240$89,880$43.21$128,000$44,450
Redding, CA60$88,460$42.53$128,590$46,400
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA1,270$82,400$39.62$111,030$47,470
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA1,060$93,930$45.16$142,500$51,680
Salinas, CA80$93,540$44.97$120,430$62,770
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA1,200$81,980$39.41$115,170$47,820
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA2,380$110,960$53.35$160,280$61,340
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA820$108,750$52.28$140,520$64,450
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA150$87,230$41.94$128,470$56,210
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA90$104,710$50.34$147,850$62,110
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA150$95,920$46.12$148,180$49,060
Santa Rosa, CA160$101,410$48.75$136,200$57,980
Stockton-Lodi, CA170$84,970$40.85$131,500$51,330
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA340$97,580$46.91$130,700$61,960
Visalia-Porterville, CA150$75,100$36.11$122,740$50,440
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Construction and Building Inspectors, OCC Code 47-4011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What skill are needed for a home inspector in California?

Here are the most useful skills for this occupation:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • A Working Knowledge of Construction
  • Self-Motivation

What other requirements are there to become a home inspector in California?

As a rule of thumb, there are no requirements for this position.

However, employers can require for:

  • A background check
  • High school diploma or GED
  • A personal insurance policy

Can I work as a freelance home inspector in California?

The short answer is yes.

You can work on your own, open your own home inspection firm either as a sole proprietor or LLC, or become an employee of an already established firm.

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