What would be a perfect background?
ISHI does not explicitly require formal course training. However, inspectors lacking exposure to more disciplined and formal training are at extra risk of having difficulty distinguishing between arm-waving "opinion" and well-researched authoritative sources of information. This is a critical distinction if you are to practice as a qualified professional rather than simply as a generic business operator.
ISHI's advanced certification requirements specify a combination of experience, training, and field work. ISHI, CHI and PhI Certifications require a number of qualification "points" which are made up of education, experience, field work, a minimum of a specific number of fee-paid inspections and written reports which meet ISHI's Professional Inspector Standards (subject to audit).
ISHI's founders recognized that a combination of formal training AND hands-on experience would produce the best field performance for the profession, and for that reason did not limit certification to professional engineers, nor to licensed contractors. Rather, combinations of the two types of background produce the best-informed inspector.
o College-level formal education, possibly including engineering, architecture, construction management is a plus but definitely not necessary.
o High skill level in clear written and oral communication. You can be the greatest technician in the world, but if you can't communicate effectively, you are of little service to your clients.
o Hands-on construction experience in all aspects of residential construction, both new construction and repair/renovation work.
o Familiarity with building codes, electrical and plumbing codes, etc.
o Intimate familiarity with good construction practices for every major residential construction topic, in depth, in great detail. (God, and leaks and rot, are in the details.)
o Familiarity with computers, word processing.
o Financial strength to support not only living while training, but to self-insure against likely errors and omissions in inspections and reports.
o Familiarity with real estate practices, sales, legal and marketing issues.