In the view of some prospective students, and in reality, this intense training seems prohibitive as far as the time involved. However, I can tell you from experience that even this level of intensity only takes students to an entry level position in the profession. Inspection is not a simple field as there is always something to learn or something changes so you have to learn about it again.
This college level program is listed by the state as a fast-track program. It is intense but it does get the job done in four weeks, 40 hours per week. The students are in class, or on field inspections, the whole time. They take some rigorous tests as well. The inspectors in training are taught to conduct structural pest inspections -- which is a mandatory duty in Washington. Students need a broad base of knowledge, and have to be studious, if they are to effectively work in the inspection field. Students realize the financial risks of a sloppy job as soon as they pay their first errors and omissions insurance premiums. Home inspectors need to understand structure, exteriors, concrete, roofs, interior, attics, roof systems, electrical, plumbing, furnaces, air conditioners, wood stoves, kitchen appliances, the wood destroying organisms, etc. It is an awful lot to learn, even in four intense weeks.
Having established that there is an overwhelming amount of material to cover, I will get back to the original point. People want this training Online or on a DVD. Although the college and I have discussed putting some basic information Online, to abbreviate this training down to a three week session on campus, anything beyond that drastically decreases the depth and the quality of the instruction. In the time currently spent, students see and feel different sidings and roofing materials, they explore electric panels and any number of other complex systems. The key word is hands-on -- they envelop themselves in the work for four weeks. Then, on five supervised field inspections, they go into every area of a home that would normally be inspected: Crawl spaces, attics, under decks, on roofs, in electric panels, in furnaces. It is my view, based on watching students progress and then work in the field, that no Online, armchair training, can do a satisfactory job of preparing a student to actually work in this dangerous, litigious and complex field. I have worked with, or tutored, a few inspectors whose full education came from videos. They could recognize the photos, but had a hard time identifying the problems and things they should know instantly, when they were under the stress of working out in the field. Obviously there are some individuals who do not wish to be serious professional inspectors, but would like to have a better understanding of the field, for those people this type of Online information or a video might be great.
My view is that, realistically, we must acknowledge that there is a place for some virtual training in the serious inspection field. Perhaps it makes sense for teaching marketing, laws, standards of practice, code of ethics, that kind of thing, but the real field work and much of the education needs to stay that way -- learned out in the field and hands-on in the classroom!
Thanks for reading this.
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA home inspector