I thought that I would title this post in honor of Sidney Chaisson, by using his most familiar quote: “Education, education, education.” Sidney is one of the venerable inspectors in our industry. He was the first home inspector licensed in Louisiana (LA LHI# 10001) served as chairman of the Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors and an active member of ASHI. He is famous/infamous for his constant promotion of home inspector education. He believes that the more education an inspector has, the better inspector they will become.
The home inspection industry is known to be one of the most demanding industries in regards to continuing education. In most states, inspectors are required to perform continuing education (CE), and the number of hours required of inspectors often exceeds other industries, including attorneys and engineers. In Louisiana, inspectors are required to get 20 hours of CE every year, in order to renew their license, and first year inspectors are required to get 30!
While some people may consider this to be an onerous amount of education, it can certainly be argued that the number is justified, considering the vast amount of knowledge that a home inspector must retain. When we take into account the fact that inspectors must have a working knowledge of various industries (electrical, HVAC, roofing, construction, plumbing, etc.), it’s quite impressive that home inspectors are able to effectively perform their jobs in this constantly changing landscape.
I, like Sidney, am a proponent of continuous education. I believe that to be a professional, a home inspector can never stop learning. A few years ago the Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors (LSBHI) had a rather heated discussion about raising the required number of yearly CE hours. As most changes proposed by the LSBHI go by unnoticed, I was amazed by the response that this proposal generated. Inspectors were coming out of the woodwork to oppose the increased amount of CE.
During the Board meeting where the change was being discussed, the Board asked for my opinion of the proposed change. As I am a provider of CE, and stood to gain (financially) from the increase, I declined to endorse the proposal. However, my personal opinion was that I didn’t believe that the increase was necessary. The inspectors that are interested in advancing their knowledge were already getting more than 20 hours of education each year. The other inspectors were attending the required minimum 20 hours of class, and were spending their class time sleeping or fiddling with their electronic devices. My point was that you cannot force someone to learn; motivation must come from within.
In our digital age, where the entirety of man’s collected knowledge resides in the tech device in the palm of our hand, obtaining information has never been easier or more convenient. Within seconds we can have the answer to almost any question we can pose. We should be using this technology to our advantage.
There are many places online to learn things that can help our inspection career, and these sources should be used to our advantage. Many industries and manufacturers provide free, online education for their technicians, and these classes can often be accessed by the inquiring home inspector. While we may not necessarily obtain CE credits from their material (depending on our state’s rules), we will expand our knowledge and increase our value to our clients. I encourage everyone to do their own research, discover additional educational opportunities, and share them with your fellow inspectors.
One of my favorite quotes regarding education comes from Arthur Wellesley, 19th century British Field Marshall and 1st Duke of Wellington (The Iron Duke), who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. He said: “Wise people learn what they can; fools learn what they must.” The more knowledge that we acquire, the better prepared we will be to handle the rigors of our industry. Everyone’s profession is constantly changing and advancing, and the people who don’t change and advance with it will be left behind.
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