What Education Is Required to Become a Transportation Inspector?

Transportation inspectors ensure passenger and cargo safety. Read on to learn about how to become an inspector, from education and training to certification requirements, and get information on the average transportation inspector salary. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Transportation Inspector?

A transportation inspector inspects goods and equipment associated with transporting people or cargo to ensure safety. They typically work for federal, state, and local governments or private companies. There are a few different types of transportation inspectors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are aviation, freight and cargo, and transportation vehicle equipment and systems transportation inspectors.

Career Title Transportation Inspector
Median Salary (2018)* $73,780
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 4%
Education High school diploma required, undergraduate degree preferred for some positions
Training On-the-job training
License and Certification Required for some positions

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Become an Inspector

The BLS states that the minimum education requirement for transportation inspectors is a high school diploma or equivalent and that on-the-job training is available. Each specialty has varying requirements, but in general, fluency in English and previous experience in a related position is a must. Starting in a related entry-level position and working up is common.

Aviation Inspectors

Aviation inspectors ensure safe conditions for airplanes. They need at least a high school diploma, but some positions prefer an associate's degree in aviation. On-the-job training may be available, but some employers require training from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

This training, known as AMT training, can be done by aspiring inspectors or it can be required as part of continuing education for experienced inspectors. Participants in this program learn about topics such as aircraft exhaust systems, landing gear systems, maintenance, and safety, among others.

Aviation inspectors usually need certification or a license. One example is an FAA airframe and powerplant license, which is designed for aircraft mechanics. However, it can be helpful for inspectors because aviation inspectors often benefit from previous experience as mechanics. Some additional skills required of aviation inspectors include reading comprehension, physical fitness, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Freight and Cargo Inspectors

Freight and cargo inspectors handle maintenance, safety, and load regulations for cargo that is transported by trains, trucks, airplanes, and ships. The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma, however, many employees hold a bachelor's degree or a postsecondary certificate. Freight and cargo inspectors need knowledge of the transportation specialty they work in. For example, a truck inspector needs to know the proper methods of transportation and safety regulations for trucks.

Freight and cargo inspectors must submit reports of their inspections; therefore, they need strong reading, writing, communication, and data entry skills, as well as knowledge of the technology used for data entry, such as spreadsheets. Data entry certificate programs may be beneficial to aspiring freight and cargo inspectors.

Certification varies by employer, but one available certification is the Certified Cargo Security Professional certification. Candidates need at least a bachelor's degree, a high school diploma with one year of cargo/transportation experience, or five years of supervisory cargo/transportation experience.

Transportation Vehicle Equipment and Systems Inspectors

These inspectors handle equipment maintenance regulations for transportation vehicles, excluding airplanes. They will need knowledge applicable to the industry they work in. For example, a vehicle inspector will need to know car mechanics. Auto mechanic school could be beneficial in breaking into this career.

Regardless of their specialty, transportation vehicle inspectors need at least a high school diploma and mechanics, transportation, and public safety and security knowledge. They will also need reading, writing, communication, and Microsoft Office skills, as well as the ability to listen actively and think critically.

There are different certifications available for these inspectors according to specialty and some employers require or prefer them. An example is eRailSafe certification. This is an industry-standard credential for railroad employees. Applicants complete training offered by eRailSafe and then take a test to earn the credential.

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