How to Become an Aerospace Inspector: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn about how to become an aerospace inspector. Read about the duties of such inspectors, the education requirements, and the pros and cons of a career as an aerospace inspector.

Should I Become an Aerospace Inspector?

Aerospace inspectors examine and evaluate the work and safety of aerospace bodies such as airplanes, satellites, missiles, and even spacecraft. Like other types of inspectors, aerospace inspectors are responsible for understanding through blueprints and models the specifications of the machinery they will examine and inspecting such equipment for quality of assembly and function. They also write reports on their findings and make recommendations for potential changes. Many aerospace inspectors work on airplanes and may be employed by the federal aviation administration (FAA).

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma (minimum), associate's degree or postsecondary training (preferred)
Degree Name Aerospace or aviation technology
Certification Certifications are available in various nondestructive testing (NDT) methods, the SpaceTEC certification offers 3 concentration options: composites, aerospace manufacturing and aerospace vehicle processing
Experience Several years of experience; apprenticeships are available to gain work experience
Key Skills Good communications skills, proficient in math and blueprint reading, knowledge of the aerospace process
Salary $63,780 per year (Median salary from May 2014 for aerospace engineering and operations technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

The minimum requirement for aerospace inspection jobs is typically a high school diploma. For students interested in aerospace technology, excelling in math and science courses in high school may help prepare them for further specialized training.

Step 2: Enroll in an ABET-Accredited Associate Degree Program

While there are no official educational requirements for working as an aerospace inspector, employers may desire individuals with postsecondary training or an associate's degree. Aerospace and aviation technology programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET, Inc.) are offered at many community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and even through universities. It may mean receiving an applied technology degree with a concentration in aerospace or aviation technology. The program will likely consist of general education requirements, in addition to courses in safety, assembly, computer technology and print reading.

Step 3: Consider an Apprenticeship

Aerospace apprenticeships predominately consist of on-the-job training, but may include classroom instruction as well. Meant to provide practical experience and better job opportunities, apprenticeships allow students to work with real aerospace technology employers for several years while supplementing their knowledge. They may provide an official certificate and industry-wide recognition upon completion.

Step 4: Get a Job as an Aerospace Inspector

Employers hiring aerospace inspectors look for candidates with several years of experience, according to a search of CareerBuilder.com job postings in August 2011. Experience can come from apprenticeships or working as assistants to aerospace engineers and technicians. The job postings stated that aerospace inspectors should be competent at math and blueprint reading and have a good communication skills and knowledge of aerospace processes.

Step 5: Obtain Certification

Becoming certified in certain aerospace inspection specialties may provide industry recognition and lead to advancement and increased job opportunities. Certifications are available in various nondestructive testing (NDT) methods, which may be required by employers (www.ndt-ed.org). Aerospace inspectors might also seek SpaceTEC certification, which offers three concentration options: composites, aerospace manufacturing and aerospace vehicle processing.

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