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Transportation Inspector Job Description, Career as a Transportation Inspector, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Varies—see profile

Salary Median—$47,920 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Transportation inspectors examine equipment and procedures to ensure that planes, public transportation systems, or railroads conform to federal or state safety regulations.

Aviation inspectors examine aircraft, maintenance procedures, air traffic controls, air navigational aids, and communications equipment. If they find the aircraft in compliance with federal safety regulations, they issue certificates of worthiness. Most aviation inspectors work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Public transportation inspectors review the operation of public transportation systems to ensure that they comply with federal, state, and local regulations. They also investigate accidents and equipment failures and determine the need for repairs and changes in service.

Railroad inspectors monitor railroad equipment, roadbeds, and tracks to determine if repairs are needed. If repairs are made, they inspect again, testing equipment and facilities to ensure that they are in working order.

Education and Training Requirements

Educational and training requirements vary according to the job. In general, inspectors have advanced from other positions in their fields. For example, aviation inspectors usually start out as aircraft mechanics who have fulfilled the requirements for that job: two- to four-year degree, government certification, and eighteen to twenty-four months of instruction at an FAA-approved school. They then accumulate several years of experience before they qualify to become inspectors with the FAA, which may require a special authorization.

Railroad inspectors usually work their way up from railroad maintenance worker to signal operator and then to inspector. They must have years of experience in railroad maintenance and be very knowledgeable about safety procedures. They have been tested at every level of advancement to prove their skills and ability.

Public transportation inspectors usually advance from maintenance positions. They are experienced with the mechanics of subways, buses, trolleys, streetcars, and other forms of public transit. They have undergone substantial training, in the classroom and on the job, and are thoroughly acquainted with federal, state, and local safety regulations. They have been repeatedly tested on their knowledge and skills.

Getting the Job

Transportation inspectors usually start out in maintenance positions in their given fields and then advance to the job of inspector. Job seekers should first choose a field of interest and then apply for entry-level positions in that field. School placement offices can provide information on job opportunities.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Transportation inspectors can become chief inspectors or heads of their departments. They may also move into other administrative or supervisory positions within their companies or departments.

Employment of transportation inspectors is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. Openings should occur as experienced inspectors retire or move into other positions.

Working Conditions

Transportation inspectors usually work forty-hour weeks. They work outside, in railroad yards, or inside, in garages and airplane hangars. Their tasks may be physically demanding, as inspectors have to climb and move into precarious positions to inspect some machinery and equipment. The job may be stressful, as their work can affect transportation schedules and the safety of passengers and crew.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary, depending on the type of work and level of experience. In 2004 the median salary of all inspectors was $47,920 per year. Experienced inspectors earned much more.

Where to Go for More Information

American Public Transit Association
1666 K St. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 496-4800

Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees
20300 Civic Center Dr., Ste. 320
Southfield, MI 48076-4169
(248) 948-1010

National Air Transportation Association
4226 King St.
Alexandra, VA 22302
(703) 845-9000

Transport Workers Union of America
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
(212) 259-4900

Benefits include health and dental insurance and retirement plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesTransportation & Logistics