Plan Examiner

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Related roles: Building Inspector, Construction Plans Examiner, Code Compliance Officer, Permit Technician, Zoning Inspector, Development Review Specialist, Construction Compliance Officer, Regulatory Compliance Inspector, Land Use Planner, Building Standards Inspector


Similar Titles

Building Inspector, Construction Plans Examiner, Code Compliance Officer, Permit Technician, Zoning Inspector, Development Review Specialist, Construction Compliance Officer, Regulatory Compliance Inspector, Land Use Planner, Building Standards Inspector

Job Description

Have you ever looked at an impressive building and wondered “How did they do that?”

The process of erecting a new building starts with an idea that’s visually fleshed out by an architect. The process ends once construction crews finish building the structure. But somewhere in between these stages comes the vital work of Plans Examiners!

Plans Examiners work closely with architects, engineers, and builders, going over every detail of the proposed building plans to address potential issues and ensure compliance with codes, zoning laws, and fire regulations.

From residential homes to commercial and public infrastructure projects, Plans Examiners also ensure energy efficiency and accessibility standards are met. Their work helps to prevent costly delays or mistakes that might have to be fixed later. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Contributing to urban development which, in turn, helps the economy and provides housing, workplaces, and public spaces
  • Engaging in a wide range of exciting residential and commercial projects
  • Helping to keep building occupants and communities safe
2022 Employment
2032 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Plans Examiners typically work a standard 40-hour week, with overtime as needed to meet project deadlines. The work is primarily office-based, though some examiners may travel to perform site inspections.

Typical Duties

  • Participate in pre-construction meetings with architects, contractors, and building owners to discuss projects and compliance strategies
  • Promote the adoption of green building practices and energy-efficient designs
  • Review building plans, building codes, zoning regulations, and fire safety standards
  • Guid architects, engineers, and builders on how to comply with codes and regulations
  • Evaluate proposed building materials and construction methods to ensure they all meet safety and quality standards
  • Coordinate with fire departments, environmental agencies, and other stakeholders to address specific safety and environmental concerns related to building designs
  • Advise property developers on permit processes
  • Issue permits for construction, renovation, and demolition (after confirming that plans comply with local, state, and federal regulations)
  • Maintain records of plan reviews, inspections, and communications, and track status updates
  • Conduct site inspections during and after construction to ensure plans are followed

Additional Responsibilities

  • Help develop and revise local building codes and standards
  • Provide expert testimony in court cases or public hearings
  • Engage in continuous education to stay informed about new codes, regulations, technologies, sustainable practices, and other innovations
  • Develop and deliver training programs for construction professionals
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Adaptability
  • Analytical thinking
  • Clear communication
  • Compliance-orientation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Customer service
  • Detail-oriented
  • Integrity
  • Precision
  • Problem-solving
  • Public relations
  • Resolve
  • Safety-conscious
  • Scheduling
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Technical Skills

  • Proficiency in reading and interpreting architectural and engineering plans    
  1. Understanding floor plans, elevations, and engineering schematics for structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems
  • Understanding of building codes, zoning laws, and fire regulations
  1. Including knowledge of the International Building Code and International Residential Code, local zoning requirements, and fire safety measures.
  • Knowledge of construction materials and methods (for example, concrete and steel)
  • Awareness of modern construction techniques
  • Familiarity with energy efficiency and sustainability standards, such as LEED certification criteria and sustainable construction practices like solar panel installation
  • Use of computer-automated drafting software for plan review
  • Use of building information modeling tools like Revit for design analysis
Different Types of Organizations
  • Municipal and county building departments
  • State government agencies
  • Private consulting firms
  • Educational institutions
  • Hospitals
Expectations and Sacrifices

Plans Examiners must be meticulous and extremely thorough in their work. The safety and compliance of construction projects rests largely on their shoulders! In addition, they may have to work on multiple projects at once and must therefore stay highly focused and on track with timeframes and deadlines.

Building codes, regulations, and technologies can change frequently, so Plans Examiners must stay up-to-date on the latest developments. Sometimes codes and regulations can be complicated and fairly boring, but it is vital to read and understand the fine print. 

Current Trends

Building designs are becoming increasingly sophisticated, requiring Plans Examiners to stay current on new architectural concepts, specialized modern materials, and green building practices.

In addition, buildings are getting smarter! As Construction Today notes, “Smart building technology is transforming the way we interact with structures. Features like IoT-connected systems, automation, and energy management solutions are making buildings more efficient, comfortable, and secure.”

Processes are becoming more streamlined thanks to digitalization and the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software in the plan review process. This can enable more efficient and accurate assessments, but it does take time to learn how to use these technologies effectively. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

In their youth, Plans Examiners might have enjoyed puzzles, building models, or drawing detailed designs. They may have had a fascination with architecture and engineering, curious about how ideas can be transformed into real-world structures.  

Education and Training Needed
  • Becoming a Plans Examiner typically involves a mix of education, work experience, and certification
  • Plans Examiners typically need a bachelor’s degree in architecture, civil engineering, urban planning, construction management, or a related field
  1. Note, that some may get started with an associate degree in building inspection technology, drafting, engineering, fire prevention, or a related field, if they have sufficient certifications, training, and experience
  • Common courses may include:
  1. Computer-Aided Design
  2. Building Codes and Standards
  3. Building Inspections and Compliance
  4. Civil Engineering Fundamentals
  5. Construction Materials and Methods
  6. Energy Efficiency in Building Design
  7. Fire Protection and Safety Systems
  8. Fundamentals of Engineering
  9. Introduction to Architecture
  10. Structural Analysis
  11. Sustainable Design and Construction
  12. Zoning and Land Use Planning
  • In addition, employers may look for certifications to show proof of proficiency in building codes and standards. Certification options include:
  1. International Code Council -

                   - Certified Building Official

                   - Building Plans Examiner

                   - Electrical Plans Examiner

                   - Mechanical Plans Examiner

                   - Plumbing Plans Examiner

                   - Residential Energy Inspector/Plans Examiner

                   - Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner

                   - Commercial Energy Plans Examiner

  1. International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials - Residential and Commercial Mechanical Plans Examiner
  2. National Fire Protection Association - Certified Fire Plan Examiner
  • Certification exam takers should become familiar with the exam content areas, number of questions, format, and allotted time
  • Exam takers should buy or borrow ICC study guides to prepare or consider enrolling in an exam preparation course at a local community college technical school, or online course provider like WC3 Academy
  • Plans Examiners may start a related field such as construction, architecture, engineering, or building inspection. Work experience in these areas can provide a practical understanding of building practices, materials, and codes
  • Familiarize yourself with the International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC), and any local building codes and standards. This can be achieved through self-study, workshops, and on-the-job experience
  • Familiarity with other applicable local, state, and federal regulations is critical for ensuring compliance in construction projects
  • Experience with digital plan review software and geographic information systems (GIS) is increasingly valuable
  • Knowledge of sustainable building practices and energy efficiency standards is beneficial as the industry moves towards greener construction
Things to look for in an University
  • Plans Examiners should seek universities with strong undergraduate programs in architecture, civil engineering, urban planning, construction management, or a related field
  • Check if the program is accredited by the ABET
  • Look for programs offering hands-on experience or opportunities for internships
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid via the FAFSA)
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, excel in math, physics, and science courses plus any engineering or architecture classes offered
  • Take drafting or computer-aided design to get experience with plans and blueprints
  • Join construction or engineering clubs for practical experience and teamwork skills
  • Volunteer for real-world urban planning, construction, or architecture projects
  • Look for internships or part-time jobs in construction and architectural firms or government planning departments
  • Develop communication skills through debate club or public speaking classes
  • Pursue a relevant college major like civil engineering, architecture, urban planning, or construction management
  • Study building codes, construction standards, and inspection techniques
    Get certified in CAD software
  • Join organizations like the American Planning Association or National Association of Home Builders
  • Obtain certification through organizations such as the International Code Council
  • Develop your professional network by going to industry conferences and seminars
Plan Examiner Roadmap
Plan Examiner Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • Use your school’s career center to prepare for job applications and to learn about possible job openings
  • Plans Examiners may start working in a related field such as construction, architecture, engineering, or building inspection before moving to plans examining
  • Scan job postings on portals like Indeed and Glassdoor, as well as Craigslist for smaller local jobs
  • Check out examples of Plans Examiner resumes for ideas
  • Tailor your resume to highlight relevant experiences and skills. Include relevant keywords such as:
  1. Building regulations
  2. Civil engineering
  3. Code Compliance
  4. Construction standards
  5. Permit application
  6. Plan analysis
  7. Safety protocols
  8. Structural inspection
  9. Technical documentation
  10. Zoning laws
  • Prepare for interviews by researching the hiring organization’s operations
  • Review common Plans Examiner interview questions such as “What process would you follow to inspect potential structural deficiencies in a building?”
  • Ask a friend to help you run through mock interviews to practice your responses
  • Stay informed about industry trends, developments, and applicable terminology
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Speak with your supervisor about career progression. Let them know you’re willing to undergo additional training courses to enhance your skills
  • Pursue additional certifications. Ask your employer if they would be willing to cover tuition or exam costs
  • Communicate effectively with architects, engineers, property owners and developers, regulatory agencies, and other involved parties
  • Be open to relocation, if needed. Sometimes bigger job opportunities come up in different cities or states
  1. The states with the highest employment levels for Construction and Building Inspectors are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania
  • Join a professional organization such as the American Planning Association. It’s a great way to network, learn, and make friends!
  • Take on leadership roles in project teams or professional organizations
  • Volunteer to work on larger, more complex projects as you become qualified
  • Consider earning a graduate degree that could qualify you for management positions
  • Seek a mentor for guidance and professional development
  • Specialize in a niche area, such as sustainable building practices or accessibility
  • Enhance your technological skills in GIS, BIM, and CAD
  • Stay informed about industry trends and innovations through continuous learning
Plan B

Plans Examiners are crucial for the safe construction of the buildings we live, work, and play in. But the field may be too uneventful for workers who don’t want to spend their days scrutinizing building plans and complex regulations and codes. If you’re curious about related jobs that require similar skill sets, consider the below options!

  • Architect
  • Aviation Inspector
  • Carpenter
  • Civil Engineering Technologist
  • Construction Manager
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologist
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineer
  • Electrician
  • Energy Auditor
  • Construction Trades and Extraction Worker
  • Government Property Inspector
  • Maintenance and Repair Worker
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
  • Plumber, Pipefitter, and Steamfitter
  • Property Appraiser and Assessor
  • Solar Energy Installation Manager
  • Surveyor
  • Transportation Vehicle, Equipment, and Systems Inspector


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