Bridge Inspector: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 19, 2019

In order to increase job prospects, it is recommended that aspiring bridge inspectors earn a postsecondary degree or complete a certification training program. Bridge inspection courses are available at many universities, where topics such as steel deterioration, waterway evaluation, and how to understand federal codes are covered.

Essential Information

Bridge inspectors evaluate bridge conditions to ensure public safety. Inspectors look for bridge deterioration and damage, and they make recommendations about necessary repairs. Typically, a high school diploma or GED is required for entry-level bridge inspector positions, but certification training programs are also available. Applicants who hold associate degrees or undergraduate-level certificates related to construction inspection may have better chances of finding employment. Licensure and certification may be required for bridge inspectors, but this varies by state.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent at minimum; postsecondary degrees recommended
Other Requirements Comply with state licensure and/or certification requirements
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% for all construction and building inspectors
Average Salary (2018)* $59,700 for all construction and building inspectors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Description

Bridge inspectors use strict standards and specifications to ensure a bridge is safe for public use. A bridge's the deck, superstructure and substructure are evaluated. Specific methods of inspection are determined by a variety of criteria, such as a bridge's type and age. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, most bridges require repairs after inspection. Common repairs include cleaning, replacing rotten wood and fixing cracks in concrete. Some bridge inspectors become SCUBA-certified to perform underwater substructure inspections. Bridges are given numerical ratings and may be subject to closing if an inspector finds particularly poor conditions.

Education Requirements

Most entry-level jobs require a high school diploma or GED and certification. More advanced positions require higher education such as a bachelor's or master's degree in civil engineering.

Many universities offer bridge inspection training courses for certification training. The National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) requires that such courses to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration. A typical training course explores steel, concrete and timber bridge evaluation; tools and safety; steel deterioration and waterway evaluation. Students also learn how to understand federal codes and inventory forms.


The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers four levels of certification in bridge safety inspection from entry-level to senior level, which can be sought after an inspector gains relevant work experience. Applicants must pass a written exam to become certified. Depending on state requirements, bridge inspectors may also need to gain SCUBA certification to evaluate bridge conditions underwater. To become SCUBA-certified, bridge inspectors must complete a diving training program. Similar to NBIS-approved training courses, colleges often offer bridge inspection refresher courses to keep inspectors current on regulations and practices or to renew their inspection certification.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that construction and building inspectors could expect to see a 7% growth in employment between 2018 and 2028. Public safety concerns and the desire to improve construction quality are thought to be contributing factors to this growth projection. In 2018, these workers made an average annual salary of $59,700, stated the BLS. September 2019 figures supplied by show that construction inspectors earned a median annual salary of $55,167.

Due to the strict standards and specifications associated with bridge safety, a bridge inspector must have a solid understanding of various types of structures and building materials. It is an inspector's responsibility to recommend any necessary repairs to ensure a bridge is safe for public use. Some bridge inspectors conduct substructure inspections by becoming certified SCUBA divers.

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