Since 2016, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition’s Physical Issues Committee has been working to increase the number of certified building instructors in the state’s reservation communities. Building inspectors play a critical role in ensuring homes are safe and healthy for new homeowners. As part of these efforts, the Coalition hosts annual inspector certification workshops that provide attendees with code books, professional training, study materials, and the required fees to take the International Code Council (ICC) certification exam. So far, six individuals have passed the challenge and become certified inspectors for new residential construction.

Archie Marshall, a lead inspector for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, attended a workshop and passed the test about a year ago. He heard about the workshop from another Coalition member and thought it would be a good opportunity since he was already doing some inspection work.

“I never knew this type of training existed. I was aware of a lot of the codes already, but I had never seen an ICC book,” says Marshall.

He says that even with 35 years of construction experience, he still learned a lot from the workshop and had to work hard to pass the 60-question certification exam within the designated two hours.

“The instructor was really helpful. We learned how to use our code books as a resource guide,” says Marshall.

Once Marshall passed the test, he received a certificate and an identification card from ICC. His certification will be good for three years. Within that time, he must complete a certain amount of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to stay current on the ever-changing construction industry. Without the CEUs, he’ll have to retake the test.

“I was always told that construction is an evolving industry. Anybody building anything has to have ongoing training,” says Marshall.

Immediately following his certification, he was contracted as the Lead Inspector for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Construction Office. Since then, he has completed over 150 inspections for remodeled roofs, windows, ADA ramps, door replacements, and more. Amid all of this, he has received several employment opportunities, and he knows of a handful of openings for inspectors.

“So yeah, I have job security,” affirms Marshall.

This year, the Coalition will host two inspector certification workshops – one in March and another in September. These events are being facilitated as part of a $5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA’s) Good Jobs Challenge. Through grant activities, the Coalition and our partners will create 100 jobs over three years.