My Path to Becoming a Building Inspector

By Hannah Pittman (Dodge City, Kansas)

I moved to Dodge City from Winfield, Kansas when I was eleven years old. Changing schools and moving to a large city so culturally diverse was a shock at first, but I soon grew to love the community. I graduated from Dodge City High School and set my mind to be successful–while still unsure of my career path.

I chose the construction field, a hands-on, “attention to detail” field dominated by men. I registered for the Construction Trades Program at Dodge City Community College. I had the impression that anyone going to college to study this trade was frowned upon, because of the mindset that “to learn to build you first jump in as a laborer and work your way up as you train.” While it is hard to decide on a single career path, I saw myself going on to become a building inspector one day and possibly teaching secondary education in the future.

A door opened when I heard about an OC Community Internship in Development Services at the City of Dodge City.

The first week of my internship–right off the bat, I had the privilege to shadow the City of Dodge City Inspections Department in a natural flooding disaster survey in Natoma, Kansas, inspecting the area for major damage after the waters had resided. In the following weeks, I worked side-by-side with the staff to find city property violations, inspect roofs, footings, and basement walls, and electrical inspections, just to name a few. We had to write specific notes detailing property violations to mail out to the residents, so that gave me experience with improving my written communication, as well as bettering my verbal communication when I would meet local contractors in town. I also had a leadership goal at the end of this internship—to conduct a site inspection by myself.

My favorite part of the internship with Dodge City Inspections had to be all the new relationships I gained with the community, citizens, and local contractors. The firsthand experience of following the inspectors around and learning what their job entails was invaluable. I’ve learned another side of building trades that I did not get to experience going through the DC3 (Dodge City Community College) Tech program.

Oh yeah, on the last week of my internship–I conducted my first inspection by myself on a plumbing rough-in, and gas test. I made sure that the plumbing of the house was up to code, and that the gas line was pressurized to 20 pounds.

OC Intern Alum Hannah Pittman works as a full-time Inspector for the City of Dodge City, KS—in addition to raising her daughter and finishing up her Associates in Building Construction Trades at the community college.

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