An electrical inspector is a specially trained building inspector who focuses on electrical systems. He or she may work for a government agency which handles inspections, or services may be provided independently. In both cases, the electrical inspector's primary job description involves the examination of electrical systems to confirm that they are safe and usable.
Electrical inspectors generally like to get involved in new construction as early as possible, so that they can inspect the building site and the plans, which should include electrical diagrams. This early inspection can save money and time, as the inspector may identify flaws and issues which will need to be addressed before he or she will sign off on the building as safe for use. In the case of remodels and retrofits, electrical inspectors can also provide valuable advice at the beginning of a project which will be useful in the long term.
In the case of fully installed systems, the electrical inspector is concerned with several issues. The first is whether or not the system meets building codes such as the National Electrical Code® used in the United States. The second is whether or not the system is safe, a concern which is usually addressed by systems which are up to code. Finally, the electrical inspector must determine whether or not the system will operate as desired, and handle the load which will be placed on it. In some cases, a system may be up to code, but not fully able to deal with the situations it may encounter.
Electrical inspectors examine everything from the connection of the main line to the wiring of individual outlets. They also inspect appliances which are hardwired into a structure, and they may examine appliances which are simply plugged in to confirm that they will work properly with the electrical system.
Government employees are required to inspect electrical systems and to sign off on them if they are safe and ready for use, or to make recommendations for changes which must be followed to get the system certified. These inspectors are concerned with public safety and upholding basic standards in construction. Private inspectors may be hired to inspect a prospective real estate purchase, provide advice about the retrofit of an existing system, or to investigate the causes of an electrical problem. Training to become an electrical inspector typically includes a college degree in electrical engineering, and/or extensive experience with real world electrical installation.