How to Become a Concrete Inspector: Career Guide
Research the requirements to become a concrete inspector. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in quality control.
Do I Want to Be a Concrete Inspector?
Concrete inspectors monitor and evaluate construction sites to guarantee that the materials are strong enough to withstand placement of concrete. They also examine and test concrete batches to ensure that the composition meets construction specifications and industry standards.
In order to perform job duties, they often travel to construction sites or work in a plant or shop environment. At such sites, concrete inspectors may be exposed to uneven ground or other hazardous environments; they must follow safety protocol in order to ensure no injuries occur. Inspectors usually work full-time during the day, although some evening hours may be required to write reports.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction inspectors usually receive much of their training on the job. Most employers require candidates who have a minimum of a high school diploma and relevant experience; however, employers may also desire experienced candidates who have completed postsecondary education in the form of an associate's degree or certificate program. Employers also commonly require concrete inspectors to hold various certifications, such as the American Concrete Institute's (ACI) Concrete Field Technician Certification. The following table shows the core requirements for concrete inspectors:
|Degree Level||No degree required, but an associate's degree or certificate may help with career prospects*|
|Degree Field(s)||Construction engineering technology, civil engineering technology or related****|
|Certification||Employers commonly require ACI and/or Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute's (PCI) certification***|
|Experience||3-5 years experience with precast/prestressed concrete fabrication***|
|Key Skills||Communication skills, mechanical knowledge and detail-oriented*|
|Computer Skills||Knowledge of label making and spreadsheet software, as well as analytical or scientific, optical character reading and industrial control software**|
|Technical Skills||Experience with gauges, accelerometers, leak testing equipment calibrated resistance measuring equipment and integrated circuit testers**|
|Additional Requirements||Valid driver's license with clean driving history, background test and drug screening***|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine, ***Employer job postings (February 2013), ****American Concrete Institute
Step 1: Earn a Certificate or Associate's Degree
Associate's degree programs typically take around 2 years of full-time attendance to complete; certificate programs are generally shorter in length and are designed for job training or advancement purposes. Majors like concrete technology and civil engineering technology provide the knowledge needed to enter into the quality control field and prepare aspiring concrete inspectors for certifications. Certificate programs may focus on basic concrete knowledge, such as material testing, repairs and testing methods. Associate's degree programs offer a broader scope of learning with topics including construction materials, concrete mix proportions, construction inspection. Some employers may count the completion of a formal educational program as work experience.
- Develop strong communication skills. Employers searching for concrete inspectors typically list communication skills as an important quality. Students completing a formal educational program may consider elective courses in subjects designed to improve communication, such as human resources, public speaking or psychology.
- Complete field experience for academic credit. Most associate's degree programs include hands-on training in the form of field experiences or capstone projects that are designed to implement theoretical learning. Students may be placed with a construction company or be asked to complete and present a concrete-related project for a grade.
Step 2: Gain Experience in Concrete Construction
After completing an associate's or certificate program, individuals can gain the work experience typically required by employers searching for concrete inspectors through entry-level concrete construction worker positions. Employers typically require around 3-5 years of relevant experience when hiring concrete inspectors. In addition, employers commonly desire certified candidates, and certifications requirements can include work experience.
Step 3: Get Certified
Many employers searching for concrete inspectors require candidates to have ACI Concrete Field Testing Technician-Grade 1 certification. The ACI doesn't have educational or experiential requirements for this certification; however, candidates need to pass both a written and practical exam. ACI certification lasts for 5 years and requires passing written and practical exams for recertification.
Another typical certification employer's desire is PCI's Plant Quality Personnel Certification Level 2. PCI certification for quality control has 3 levels and includes experiential requirements. Level 1 certification must be earned prior to achieving level 2 and requires 6 months of relevant experience (PCI also counts formal education/training as work experience). Level 2 certification requires current Level 1 certification and 1 year of industry experience. After obtaining two years of experience, having level 2 certification and completing a 4-day training session, individuals can pursue level 3 certification. All levels require the successful passing of a written exam.
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