How Can I Become a Code Enforcement Officer?

Code enforcement officers verify that structures are built according to code.
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Code enforcement officers verify that structures are built according to code.

Code enforcement officers work for city or county governments and private firms. They are tasked with performing inspections to enforce laws governing public welfare and safety. Becoming a code enforcement officer means learning and understanding laws governing land use, public nuisance issues, property maintenance, structural design and business permits.

Education and Training

Basic education requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may require higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree in public administration. Work experience of at least two to five years in code enforcement, public service or municipal government is also required. Some employers will consider a combination of experience and education. Some states require licenses or certifications before working or the ability to obtain certifications within a specific time-frame of becoming employed. Code enforcement duties require problem-solving skills, math skills and the ability to read and evaluate data.

Qualifications and Job Duties

Code enforcement officers must recognize and identify code violations and interpret codes that pertain to variety of public issues. They must practice sound investigative techniques and research. Code enforcement officers are well-versed in effective public relations practices that involve interpersonal and communications skills and can respectfully communicate to the public, plaintiffs and property owners about violations and resolution procedures. Code enforcement officers also know applicable state and federal laws that have a bearing on public welfare, including building access for disabled citizens. Job duties require compilation of official reports and documents.

Work Environment

Work environments vary, but a routine day for code enforcement officers typically includes walking, standing, stooping, crawling, handling tools, lifting objects and observing. Since visual observations are a key component to the job, code enforcement officers must have vision abilities that include close and distance sight, peripheral vision, depth perception and color recognition. Code enforcement officers frequently work outside in all types of weather. Depending on the nature of a violation or inspection requirements, code enforcement personnel may be exposed to noise, toxic chemical and other environmental hazards.

Job Outlook

Employment opportunities for code enforcement officers are expected to grow at a rate of 18 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, especially for those with construction, architecture and engineering work experience. This growth rate is as fast as the average for all occupations. The strongest growth is expected in government agencies and private firms that specialize in engineering and architectural related services. Additionally, those individuals with experience and certification are likely to be ahead of the pack with potential employment opportunities.

2016 Salary Information for Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors earned a median annual salary of $58,480 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, construction and building inspectors earned a 25th percentile salary of $45,010, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $75,250, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 105,100 people were employed in the U.S. as construction and building inspectors.

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