Aviation Safety Inspector: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an aviation safety inspector. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Aviation safety inspectors perform inspections of planes for safety, including checks of mechanical work done to the plane. They usually need to complete a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program. They must be also be certified by the FAA.

Essential Information

An aviation safety inspector's job is to ensure that an aircraft and its associated equipment is working correctly. This professional is responsible for inspecting many different mechanical parts as well as approving mechanical work done by other professionals. Inspectors generally complete some form of college training and receive professional certification prior to working in the field.

Required Education Work-related experience or FAA-certified degree program
Other Requirements Aviation inspector's authorization
Projected Job Growth* (2018-2028) 3% (aircraft mechanics and technicians)
Mean Salary*(2018) $62,920 (aircraft mechanics and technicians)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of an Aviation Safety Inspector

Aviation safety inspectors are required to have a strong understanding of aviation safety principles, aircraft operation and maintenance, aviation policy and federal laws. Primarily, inspectors make sure pilots, mechanics, technicians, planes and other equipment function properly. Troubleshooting, diagnosing and repair skills are also part of the job.

Duties

Inspectors spend much of their time examining parts of the plane as well as inspecting work done by mechanics and technicians. Inspectors monitor maintenance records and all equipment such as new aircraft, gauges, meters, access plates and various mechanical parts of the plane like landing gear and tires. Inspectors are also in charge of investigating accidents and determining what went wrong.

Based on their extensive knowledge of aircraft operation and safety, inspectors make repair recommendations and, when necessary, recommend changes in policies, procedures and regulations. Inspectors need a strong understanding of communication and computer skills, mechanical techniques and processes, physics, critical thinking, law, government and design.

Requirements

Aviation safety inspectors typically have completed some form of college education. Many inspectors start out as mechanics and work their way up to become inspectors. The majority of mechanics and inspectors earn certification from one of many programs that are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These FAA-accredited programs last 12-24 months and require students to complete a minimum of 1,900 hours of course work.

Aspiring safety inspectors may also earn 2-year or 4-year degrees in management of aviation maintenance, avionics or aviation technology. Core courses in either of these degree programs might include:

  • Aircraft systems
  • Powerplant, general and airframe maintenance
  • Aircraft rigging, inspections and assembly
  • Aircraft finishes, covering, wood systems and welding
  • Engine inspection and electrical systems

Certification

The FAA requires all aviation mechanics to be certified. Generally, mechanics need to be certified as an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic, which is done by completing an FAA-accredited degree program or completing minimum work experience requirements and passing written examinations. Once earned, A&P certification must be kept current via continuing education courses.

In order to work as an inspector it is generally required that professionals obtain an aviation inspector's authorization. Inspectors need to have been A&P certified for a minimum of three years and have at least 24 months of experience prior to earning the FAA-authorized title of inspector.

Employment Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have salary or employment outlook information specifically for aviation safety inspectors. Instead, the BLS provides data for avionics equipment and aircraft technicians and mechanics, a group that earned a mean annual salary of $65,230 as of May 2018. These workers were expected to see only three percent growth in employment during the 2018-28 decade, the BLS indicated.

An aviation safety inspector makes sure that aircraft meet safety standards for flight. Aviation safety inspector certification includes gaining sufficient experience or completing an accredited degree or program, and passing an exam. The job growth outlook is slower than the job market as a whole. Their average salary is around $65,000.

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