Experience and expertise in their field is the most important tool for aviation safety inspectors. Two specializations exist for aircraft safety inspectors. Depending on the specialization, different experience and certification is required.
Aviation safety inspectors use technical skills to inspect aircraft or confirm the proficiency of pilots, flight instructors and navigators for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They apply knowledge of aviation safety, federal regulations and aircraft maintenance. Requirements for these jobs vary depending on the position sought, but in general, experience is the deciding factor in this profession. For instance, some positions require a commercial pilot certificate or an FAA mechanic certificate.
|Required Education||Varies, but the experience is the main consideration for hiring|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||2% for transportation inspectors*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$97,177 for aviation safety inspectors**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale
Job Description for an Aviation Inspector
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASIs) in two areas: operations and airworthiness. Job applicants for each role have to meet unique qualifications and requirements; however, for both roles, candidates must be U.S. citizens and pass criminal and drug screening tests.
ASIs specializing in operations evaluate airmen who are seeking certification. They also ensure that training programs for these professionals meet federal standards. Other duties include evaluating programs and operations in commercial airlines to ensure the safety of the flight crew. Inspectors in this specialization are experts in aircraft operations and may acquire knowledge through training as pilots or flight instructors.
ASIs who focus on avionics evaluate aircraft mechanics and mechanic training programs, as well as aircraft repair and maintenance facilities. These professionals monitor maintenance programs and schedules to ensure the safety and airworthiness of aircraft. They inspect an aircraft's systems, such as engines, instruments, landing gear and brakes. Inspections occur according to a preventive maintenance schedule that considers the number of hours the aircraft has flown and the number of days since the last inspection. Avionics and maintenance inspectors may work as aircraft or avionics equipment repairmen to acquire knowledge and skills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all transportation inspector jobs are predicted to grow by 2% between 2019 and 2029. This growth is considered to be below the national average for all occupations.
According to data compiled by PayScale.com in September of 2020, FAA aviation safety inspectors earned a median wage of $97,177. Additionally, it was noted that the total pay for most of these professionals ranged from $58,000-$139,000.
Operations and airworthiness are the two specialization categories for aviation safety inspectors (ASIs). An inspector with a background in aircraft operations, perhaps a former pilot, is a good candidate to become an ASI in operations. An inspector with experience in repairing aircraft or aircraft equipment can become an Airworthiness ASI.