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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 28, 2021 04:04 PM
From: Representative Sheryl M. Delozier
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Create a Building Code Official “Trainee” Program (former House Bill 422)
In the near future I plan to reintroduce former House Bill 422 from last session.  This legislation creates a building code official “trainee” program to ensure we have sufficient number of building code officials in the future. This legislation will help address a growing problem in this state which is the decreasing number of certified inspectors and plans examiners; the number of certified inspectors and plans examiners has decreased from over 4200 to less than 2500 in the last several years. Certified inspectors, in particular, are a rapidly aging population in Pennsylvania; municipalities and third party agencies are both reporting shortages in qualified, certified persons to fill vacancies.
Under the current regulations, an employee, whether for a municipality or a third party agency, cannot truly be of any significant value to their employer until they possess a number of UCC certifications.  Employers cannot afford to pay an employee to “learn and take certification exams” until they have a sufficient number to be of economic value to the employer.  This holds true for both municipal and third party employers. Unless there are some dramatic changes made to the structure of the certification system in Pennsylvania, there will be a significant shortage of certified inspectors and plans examiners in a very short period of time.
This new trainee allowance gives future code officials on the job training and experience.  At this point the certification system established by the Department of Labor and Industry allows individuals to receive their “credentials”, via certification, without any requirement for practical field experience.  Most states require some type of field experience as well as certification before being “licensed” or “certified” as inspectors.  This bill would provide important experience before doing the job on their own. 
The trainee classification system proposed in this legislation is being advocated for by the Pennsylvania Association of Building Code Officials and it is believed that this proposal addresses all of these issues with the current system. Structured much like systems employed in the practice of architecture and engineering, the trainee classification system would be based on a current, certified person agreeing to assume “responsible supervision” of a trainee, for a time period of relatively short duration.  During this time, the trainee would be working in the field, performing supervisions or plan reviews, under the watchful eye of their sponsor.  They would be studying and taking certification exams during this period, until they would qualify, by passing certification exams, to perform the inspections or plan reviews without having to be supervised by their sponsor.
The trainee status could only last for 2 years for residential certifications and 3 years for commercial.  The trainee would not be allowed to continue beyond those time periods unless they were successful in passing certification exams in one or more plan review or inspection disciplines. This trainee classification would provide for supervision and accountability, while providing new people wanting to enter the plan review and inspection professions under the UCC with practical field experience – and a method by which municipal and third party employers would be able to experience the economic contribution of the trainee prior to them possessing permanent certifications
This legislation is strongly supported by PABCO, and the PA Builders Association supports the bill as well.  There is no known opposition to it.

Introduced as HB1089