A major component of the building safety industry is the people. Well-trained, engaged code officials are integral to safe buildings and a comprehensive system of modern building codes and standards that are regularly and consistently applied. Over the next 15 years, the building industry will experience a loss of 80 percent of its existing skilled workforce. While this may initially seem to be a daunting challenge, it presents a great opportunity for students, military veterans and other job seekers looking for a rewarding career. The International Code Council is committed to helping make the transition to the next generation and has already made great strides in bringing in new talent.
We know that building safety is a great field to get into, but, in general, it’s not on the top of job seekers’ radar. The codes and standards that keep our families and our communities safe are rarely discussed except after a major disaster. Part of what the Code Council is working on is higher visibility for this exciting field. Code officials avert disaster and tirelessly work behind the scenes to keep us safe every day of the year. Also, this field offers great salaries! According to a 2014 study, the median starting salary for code officials is between $50,000 and $75,000 per year. This is significantly above the median household income of $51,017 reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012.
The ICC Learning Center provides training and education developed by nationally-recognized experts on a wide variety of code-related subjects for those new to the field as well as continuing education for experienced code officials. In addition, ICC is a leading testing and certification provider. We recently launched the Proctored Remote Online Testing Option (PRONTO), which allows test takers to take many of ICC’s national certification exams online, at their convenience, from any secure location.
In addition to providing a wide range of convenient training and certification options, the Code Council runs a number of programs to welcome the next generation of leaders to the building safety profession through the Safety 2.0 initiative. Safety 2.0 includes technical training programs for high school and college students; a military families career program; and a membership council for emerging leaders. Over 12,000 individuals have already participated and benefited from these programs.
The ICC High School and College Technical Training Programs are divided into four parts: building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical. This four-part structure enables technical schools to integrate one or more parts of the program into its current construction trade curricula to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of construction trades. Students completing all elements of a part, including a final exam, will receive a nationally-recognized certificate of completion. This program includes the necessary course materials, exams and certificates to ensure easy implementation.
The ICC Military Families Careers Path Program helps veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and their family members learn more about building safety career options. Individuals who enter military service develop skill sets ideally suited to the building safety profession – attention to detail, a strong work ethic, technical knowledge and teamwork. Military family members often have the necessary skills for the building safety profession such as discipline, organization and commitment to a cause. The Code Council offers veterans a variety of training and testing options and provides basic information about the building safety industry, job postings and connections with local code professionals that have volunteered to help shepherd veterans through the process of finding a job.
To emphasize the importance of building safety, each year the Code Council and its 64,000 members host Building Safety Month. This public awareness campaign, celebrated by jurisdictions worldwide during the month of May for the past 38 years, helps individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. The campaign reinforces the need for the adoption of modern, regularly-updated building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system. In particular, the theme for week 5 this year is “Improving Education & Training Standards for a Safer Tomorrow.”
Mentoring and guiding the next generation is everyone’s responsibility. How are you helping?
Sara Yerkes is the Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the International Code Council, a member-focused association dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures.