What Does an Aviation Safety Inspector Do?
Research what it takes to become an aviation safety inspector. Learn about the job duties, the education requirements and salary range to find out if this is the career for you.
What is an Aviation Safety Inspector?
Aviation safety inspectors evaluate and ensure the proper function and safety compliance of all instruments, systems and parts of aircraft prior to their operation. Their role is very important, as the lives of the passengers, flight attendants, and pilots on board the aircraft depend on the proper functioning of the aircraft. As a safety inspector, you will schedule routine maintenance checks and keep detailed logs of when they occurred, as well as when various parts were last broken or repaired. If before a flight, you notice an abnormality in the aircraft, it is your responsibility to decide the next step, sometimes resulting in a delay of the plane until a questionable part can be further analyzed, fixed, or replaced. The following chart provides an overview of the general requirements for a career in this field.
|Education Required||High School diploma or equivalent, minimum|
|Certification||FAA certification through accredited school|
|Key Responsibilities||Check aircraft for airworthiness and safety compliance, make repairs, and keep records on aircraft|
|Job Growth (2018-28)||3% (for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians)*|
|Median Salary (2019)||$93,466 (for aviation safety inspectors)**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
What Would I Do As an Aviation Safety Inspector?
Skilled aircraft safety inspectors are often responsible for performing safety inspections on planes before each takeoff. As a safety inspector, you'll check instruments, landing gear, engines, brakes and pressurized systems to ensure they're working correctly. Inside the plane, you'll verify air conditioning, ventilation, pump and valve systems function properly. If you find something that could cause a malfunction, you might be required to perform the necessary maintenance.
Additionally, you'll need to keep records of the maintenance performed on each aircraft. On larger, more sophisticated planes, you'll need to be familiar with the systems that allow you to gather data from electronic consoles, and use it to evaluate other parts of the plane.
Do I Need Formal Education?
Some companies require only a high school diploma and train you on the job; however, many require or strongly recommend that you complete an aviation maintenance program administered by a school accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These programs train you in aviation servicing, avionics, repair and maintenance. Generally, you'll need FAA certification to become an aviation mechanic and inspector; however, this requirement can be waived if your duties are restricted to airframe maintenance and you have FAA-approved military or aircraft manufacturing experience.
What Is the Work Environment Like?
As an aviation safety inspector, you'll often work in hangars or on airfields. You'll usually need to complete assessments under tight deadlines to keep up with flight schedules. Since you must often work fast while maintaining a high quality of safety, this job can be stressful. Physical ability is also a consideration because you could be required to lift and move heavy objects.
What Is the Job Outlook and Potential Salary?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is anticipated to increase only three percent between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). This growth is below the national average for all professions; the BLS indicated that outsourcing, specialization, and newer aircraft will reduce the total number of openings, though skilled and certified technicians may still find positions. According to PayScale.com, aviation safety inspectors were earning median annual salaries of $93,466, which included bonuses and profit sharing, as of November 2019.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
You may also be interested in a job as an aerospace engineering and operations technician. This job, which requires an associate's degree, involves developing, testing, and producing new technologies in the aerospace field. You may develop and design these technologies using computer software and specialized programs and then bring them to life by building and testing them. Another option is a job as a automotive technician and mechanic. This professional would do many of the same things as an avionics mechanic, differing in that they focus on cars and vehicles. A high school diploma as well as some on the job training is required for this career.