So, how do you choose? Here are a few things to consider in no particular order of importance.
Do some homework. Find out what you can about the inspector or the company. Is the inspector familiar with building and construction methods in the area? Is the inspector open to your questions?
Licensing. The state of Virginia does not require licensing. It does offer a voluntary certification. Keep in mind though, that the license does not insure the best inspection. Like any other profession the results are only as good as the individual, and securing a license is done by showing knowledge and not practice. Do not decide based solely on this one factor. (I am certified by VA, just in case you are curious)
Cost. This is most likely the biggest reason many decide on an inspector. While understandable, this is not always the factor that should determine who you hire. As is the case in many things, you get what you pay for. Ultimately, the end result is what you are paying for.
Credentials. In the state of VA, anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves an inspector, with or without any formal training. There are many sources of training and education for this industry. Make sure your inspector has received the proper training and education. Ask! Many schools offer designations based on additional education, usually denoted by letters added to the end of a name, much in the same way as in the medical profession.However these are school specific and are not a normal part of a inspectors designation.
Talk to the inspector. Gathering information about the inspector is crucial, and nothing beats a phone call, or a face to face conversation. You can gather more information with a 10 minute conversation than in an email and can give you a better "feel" for the inspector.